The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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374            HOW THE REINDEER LIVE
evening, so that the work of the milkers may be lightened. These folds are made of the stems of birches placed close together and strengthened with cross pieces and strong props. They are about seven feet high, and have two wide doors. At milking-time, which the dogs know as well as the men, the animals are driven inside by their faithful guardians, and milking begins busily. The young ones are generally left outside to graze or play, under the watchful eyes of the dogs, who see that they do not wander too far away. Inside the fold the noise is really deafening. The reindeer run to and fro, giving loud cries and throwing their heads about; which, as their horns are very big, is not pleasant for the milkers. Any one walking that way would be struck, first, with the sound of the movement and commotion going on in the enclosure, and this would most likely be followed in a few minutes by a crackling noise, as if a hundred electric batteries were at work at once.
In the middle of the fold are thick tree trunks to which the reindeer which have to be milked are fastened, for without these they would not stand still one single instant. The milkers have a thong which can be thrown round the neck or over the horns of the animal, and this is drawn closer till it is tied by a slip noose over the creature's mouth, so as to prevent it from biting. Then the ends are made secure to the milking block, and the milking begins at last—the animal all the while struggling hard to get free. But the Lapps know how to manage them, and only draw the cord tighter over the nose, so that the creatures are bound in self-defence to remain quiet. The milk flows into a sort of large bowl with handles, but the Lapps are both careless and dirty in their ways, and not only waste a great deal of the milk, but leave so many hairs in it that it is necessary to strain it through a cloth before it can be drunk. However, the milk itself is very good, and as thick as cream, and makes excellent cheese. The milking
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