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Experiencing the enchantment of reindeer

The goal of The Aurora Acres is to create a memorable encounter for kids and adults alike

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December 12, 2023

MARINETTE COUNTY – You may know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen.

Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen – maybe even Rudolph – but do you know Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga), Norse, Essi and Jupiter?

These four furry friends call The Aurora Acres, LLC in Marinette County home.

And though they may not be responsible for hauling a certain bearded man around the world on Christmas Eve, Owners CJ and Jilane Truax said they are determined to spread holiday cheer.

Working the past decade as full-time photographers in Northeast Wisconsin, the Truaxes said it made sense to add reindeer to their lives.

“Being a family who loves the outdoors, Scandinavian culture, Viking history, Christmas and animals – reindeer were simply destined to cross our path,” Jilane said. “It is a full family endeavor, and we love spending time together traveling with our reindeer.”

Opening earlier this year, The Aurora Acres team travels to events throughout Northeast Wisconsin creating reindeer encounters.

“We bring our reindeer to Christmas and winter events to spread educational awareness and a little extra Christmas magic to families in the holiday season,” she said. “We do anything from private home visits to large town functions. We also offer photoshoots for families and businesses.”

On the road and on the farm, Jilane said, “care is our top priority.”

The Truaxes offer photography sessions with The Aurora Acres reindeer on their farm in Marinette County. Photo Courtesy of The Aurora Acres, LLC

“First aid (for the reindeer) is always on hand, and they have a great vet team on call in case anything arises,” she said. “Of course, fresh water, food and clean bedding are important on the road and at home.”

Jilane said it’s The Aurora Acres’ goal that “every single person has a truly magical experience.”

“We aim to provide a magical experience that slows down the daily rush and gives families a memory they can hold onto forever,” she said.

Jilane said their mission is to intertwine history, education and magic together.

“We’ve grown up with animals, but have a special place in our hearts for the deer family – yet reindeer are even more uniquely special,” she said. “There is so much history behind their connection to people along with their interwovenness to the holiday season. Being around reindeer is like living in a fairytale.”

At each encounter event, Jilane said they bring two reindeer, a sleigh and a pen with ground covering to keep the location clean.

They are also on hand to care for the animals and answer any questions folks may have about them.

A labor of love
Starting a reindeer farm, Jilane said, isn’t easy.

“There are a lot of things that go into it but, it’s worth every bit of hard work,” she said. “It all started with a dream more than 10 years ago, and I guess you could say Santa finally granted our Christmas wish.”

Though the reindeer’s public appearances only happen during the holiday season – “the reindeer love traveling and meeting people, but get a nice relaxing break during the warmer months” – Jilane said caring for the herd is a year-round responsibility.

“Our daily chores include brushing, feeding a balanced mix of hay and grain and supplements, regular health checks, pen cleaning, watering and in the summer gathering fresh leaves for treats,” she said. “We also dedicate a lot of time to simply being with the reindeer so they can bond and enjoy some attention.”

At each encounter event, The Aurora Acres team brings two reindeer, a sleigh and a pen with ground covering to keep the location clean. Photo Courtesy of The Aurora Acres, LLC

Reindeer, Jilane said, need a large amount of space to roam, graze and run.

“They run, jump, bounce like you wouldn’t believe, and we give them the space to enjoy that,” she said. “Reindeer love shade, and we offer protection from the elements though they rarely need it since they love being out in the snow. In the summer, they get regular ice pools to play in. All in all, they are spoiled rotten.”

The Aurora Acres, Jilane said, is the perfect balance of working at home and on the road.

“It is such a rewarding job,” she said. “One of the parts that drew us in was the Sami culture and history of reindeer being one of the earliest domestic animals. There is so much to learn about the history and modern-day care of reindeer. Plus it’s never boring because you never have a repeat day when working with animals. We love a challenge and lifelong learning, so this lifestyle is the perfect fit.”

Though The Aurora Acres farm isn’t open to the public yet, Jilane said that may change in the future.

“We would love to have the ability to host events in the future,” she said.

More reindeer added to the herd, Jilane said, is also a possibility.

“We have (four reindeer) – two girls and two boys – on our farm currently, with plans to grow in the future,” she said.

Adding reindeer to their family, Jilane said, also works in tandem with their photography business – Resolution Photography – offering a furry friend as a photo prop.

The Truaxes offer photography sessions with the reindeer on their farm in Marinette County – including reindeer Christmas mini sessions and reindeer fairytale sessions – as well as a photography add-on option for traveling events.

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A bit more about the reindeer
Jilane said each reindeer has its own personality, “so it’s fun to have a different connection to each one.”

“For example, one loves to jump straight up into the air – working on her flying skills, I’m sure,” she said. “Another loves to cuddle. And another loves to play chase with our kids in the pasture.”

Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga), whose name is Danish for cozy winter togetherness, is the head herd reindeer. Photo Courtesy of The Aurora Acres, LLC

Hygge – whose name is a Danish word meaning cozy winter togetherness – is the head herd reindeer, keeping everyone in line, yet Jilane said her playful side will surprise you with hugs and kisses at any moment.

“She entertains us all day long with her carefree attitude,” she said.

Norse, Jilane said, is the big boy of the group – but is a sweet gentle giant.

His name, she said, relates to medieval Norway or Scandinavia.

Jilane Truax said Norse, whose name relates to medieval Norway or Scandinavia, is the gentle giant of the group. Photo Courtesy of The Aurora Acres, LLC

Essi, Jilane said, is the shy, yet sneaky one of the bunch.

Her name, she said, is a derivative of Esther, which is Persian for star – “the star of our aurora.”

Last, but not least, Jilane said, is Jupiter – the baby of the herd, and may or may not be a bit spoiled.

The Aurora Acres is also home to two Pyrenees, who Jilane said keep the reindeer safe.

“As well as chickens who clean up any bugs that wander in,” she said. “It’s a perfect team to support the reindeer.”
Jilane said The Aurora Acres has a couple “exciting things in the works” for the future.

“We can’t wait to share soon – it may or may not involve a couple of brand new experiences in the evening snowy forest,” she said.

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