Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 11, 1996)
She said, ‘Well, I don't
know how you did it,
but you put horns on
\ reindeer rancher
RIGHT: JINGLE BELLS, one of Barb and
Leon Bindenagel’s 15 reindeer, pulls on his
reins while Barb Bindenagel holds tight.
BELOW: LEON BINDENAGEL shows off
a pair of antlers in a barn on his reindeer
ranch near Dannebrog. Reindeer shed their
antlers each year and grow a larger pair in
the following year.
Reindeer draw crowd, boost holiday spirit
By Erin Gibson
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer
and.Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and
But they are more than Christmas carol lyr
ics for two Nebraskans who can see 15 of
Santa’s reindeer at a ranch on Highway 58 near
Leon Bindenagel, who owns the ranch with
his wife Barb, said the rural central Nebraska
highway teemed with traffic after they bought
their reindeer — the only ones in the state —
two years ago.
“It was a traffic jam,” Leon said. “If I had
$5 for every car that stopped out here to look at
them, I’d be rich.”
After climbing the last hill on the way to the
reindeer ranch, it’s clear to see why Nebraskans
stop for a peek. /■.
The heavy, pointed antlers poke up over the
fence posts, immediately capturing the curios
ity of passers-by. Closer up, the small creatures
look almost comic with their large crowns of
antlers, knobby knees, soft, furry nosesand wide
brown eyes. V
And like the lyrics “up on the housetop,
click, click, click,” their hooves make a clidk
ing noise as they walk.
Leon said that either the tendons in the
reindeer’s lower legs or the cartilage in their
hooves is responsible for the clicking noise,*feut
thejMgt cause is a mystery.
JSjlrreindeer themselves also are a mys
tolpife who have seen them, he said.
Biriaenagels often lease their reindeer for Christ
mas parties and events, where children can learn
about the animals and take their picture with
Santa and his herd.
Leon said that at one such event in Topeka,
Kan., a disbeliever approached him and said it
was horrible for the Bindenagels to mislead chil
dren by implying reindeer actually existed.
“She said, ‘Well, I don’t know how you did
it, but you put horns on those goats,”’ he said.
But Barb said children greet the reindeer
with less cynicism. One young boy in Hastings
tugged at his older brother’s coat sleeve for min
utes, breathless and jumping up and down and
pointing at the reindeer.
“It’s cute when the kids enjoy it,” she said.
“That makes it worth it.”
The kids aren’t the only ones who enjoy the
^ In fact, the Bindenagels have sold some of j
*their reindeer as pets, and have received phone
calls from others who want to start raising the
No calls have come in from Santa yet, but
the Bindenagels’ herd will be ready Christmas
Eve in case his sleigh needs a spare.
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