punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

My reindeer pelt

Latte is same color as a Swedish reindeerSo, I brought my reindeer pelt out.

It had been sitting in a closet for the last 6 or 7 years, and now that I have a den with a couch (stodgycat's old couch), I thought it would be nice to have the pelt out and shedding instead of slowly shedding in a closet.

My cats love it. Both as a kind of beef jerky and something to sleep on.

Of course, there's going to be the inevitable "you cruel animal-hating bastard!" from somebody, and my defense is this: I got this pelt in a gift shop in Glösa (I think, maybe Tanum), and my cousin stared at me funny. He did not understand why I'd pay $60 (and it came to $80 when I shipped it home) for one. "You know, reindeer skin up here is so common, it's often recycled for other purposes," he said. And when I went to visit his uncle Janne, sure enough, his shed was full of them. To translate this into more American terms, reindeer pelts are a little like those blue tarps you buy or find at hardware stores, a little like spare newspaper and foam peanuts you use to ship things to eBay buyers, and like outdoor rugs you don't care about. Janne uses them for lining the ice when he drags his shed out to go ice fishing, kind of to cover the floor and insulate the heat from the ice, and also as a form of padding you put on benches. In some museums, they line the benches with reindeer pelts to make them more comfortable, although you see them more in "life as it was 2000 years ago or earlier" exhibits up north.

Penny and the Reindeer skinWhy are they so common? Well, the Sami (known elsewhere as "Laplanders," but they look at that term the same way we'd use the word "negro" in civilized America) keep the reindeer for only one major purpose: meat. Northern Sweden's "beef" is often reindeer or moose, although nobody farms moose; there are too many of them as it is, so they are hunted seasonally to keep down car accidents. Since the reindeer are more systematically slaughtered, there are a lot of pelts that pile up, so they are sold or given away, and considered to be like large smelly rags. The ones in the gift shop have been treated so they don't shed as much, and don't smell like old beef jerky.

The reindeer coat has two layers of fur, a dense woolly undercoat and longer-haired overcoat consisting of hollow, air-filled hairs. This gives it a soft density like padding, but the fur itself is a little coarse.

So now I have a faux-Scottish plaid sleeper loveseat with a reindeer pelt on it.
Tags: pelt, reindeer
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