RANTOUL — You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen ...
Now meet Cupid and Pearl and Aleyaska, three baby reindeer born in April at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in Rantoul.
All three are girls, according to co-owner Julie Hardy. And there are two more babies on the way, she said.
How soon they’ll be born, she doesn’t know, but she expects one of them any day now, she said.
“I go out and check every day,” she said.
Visitors typically don’t get a chance to see the baby reindeer at Hardy’s, which reopens for the season each year in September. But this year, they will.
For the first time ever, Hardy’s is opening for late spring through early summer on Saturdays only, starting Saturday, through June 26.
If you want to see baby-size reindeer, now is your chance, because they grow fast, Hardy said.
“Normally, when we open in the fall, they are half-grown by then,” she said.
Weighing in at 8 to 12 pounds when they’re born, the reindeer will be 100 to 125 pounds by early September, Hardy said.
Two of the three new calves are pintos, with markings, Hardy said. With their births, Hardy’s now has 20 reindeer in all, she said.
For those planning to come for a visit, there won’t be any food service at Hardy’s yet. But in addition to reindeer tours, the paintball gallery and pedal-car races will be available, and the gift shop will be open.
Saturday hours through June 26 will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with reindeer tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Despite the pandemic, Hardy said the reindeer ranch’s mostly outdoor activities were busy during last year’s fall and Christmas seasons.