To the untutored observer it is all a blur. But Ms Korpela has spotted something. In the throng are familiar calf marks. They belong to a reindeer that goes by the name of Kepo (pictured, with Ms Korpela, on the previous page). She had thought this member of her herd to be lost for good. “Kepo has found her home!” she says with delight.

As friends gather around to stroke Kepo’s furry antlers, it seems she is not the only one.

The two paragraph is cited from the Economist Talo on the range

Could someone explain the phrases in bold for me, please? The photo mentioned in parenthesis is of a well alive reindeer. I don't get it, why did the author say calf marks?

I'm guessing it has something to do with a previous paragraph (Down below) but I'm not sure what is the correspondent saying and why he or she says that (the relation between calf marks and calf marking).

Another question is that why are antlers furry? They doesn't seem furry in the picture... Are they furry? Never seen one with my own eyes. I googled it but it's hard to tell from photos.

She shows the pendant her partner gave her, a replica of her bespoke calf marking. For a herder this is a sure sign of commitment.

Thank you!

  • 1
    Furry antlers: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet_antler
    – Kreiri
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 10:38
  • 1
    I think calf marks are used for identifying livestock, e.g. tags or branding.
    – user42526
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 10:41
  • 1
    @JamesP I believe it is but don't know why the correspondent use the word in the sentence that way. Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 11:01
  • 1
    Here's a video showing the herders cutting a notch into the ear of the baby reindeer. youtube.com/watch?v=PwI5v6kiFV0
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 10:04
  • 1
    Santa's reindeer😆 Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 4:06

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure which piece of the sentence is giving you a hard time, so I'll break it down and then put it back together.

Throng - A large group where individual pieces exist but are not able to be easily separated by eye. It implies something living and "milling about." You could refer to a throng of school children, for example.

Reindeer calf marks - Ear markings made on a reindeer by a human herder. This is not a general English term, I had to google it specifically. It looks like a herder makes a series of cuts and notches on the reindeer's ears to easily identify it as theirs. Each herder will have their own unique set, which is called their "calf marking". Here's an article with a photo.

There is a similar concept in cattle and sheep farming, where each animal is given an "ear tag" which is a piece of metal or plastic with a number that identifies the animal and their owner. The tag is pierced through the animal's ear when it has just been born and heals like a human earing.

It is worth noting that if I hadn't been able to google the reindeer term "calf marks," I would have assumed that it meant some other sort of natural markings, maybe a pattern of speckles or spots that only calves have and then grow out of (like deer).

So, in the throng means that Ms. Korpela is looking at the herd of reindeer and seeing something in the mess of bodies. It is hard to make out because there are so many.

In the throng there are familiar calf marks.

Means that in that herd, she sees ear markings that she recognizes.

As Kreiri pointed out in the comments, Furry antlers is talking about "velvet antlers," where antlers that have just been grown are covered with a soft layer of fuzz, similar to the texture of a peach. As the antlers finish growing, they put down more calcium and become smooth and hard instead of fuzzy or furry.

In the photo that you saw, the antlers did not look furry because the picture was taken later when the antlers had finished growing. In the link above, there's a photo with a reindeer who has "furry" antlers.


The answer is in the article:

Paliskunta [Reindeer Herders Association] issue every reindeer owner a pattern that they cut into the ears of newborn calves. Today there are about 12,000 unique marks. Looking at hers, Ms Kotala says: “Once you start with reindeer then you can’t give it up.”

This immediately follows the sentence describing the owner's replica calf marking pendant.

As for why the antlers are furry, you'd have to ask a biologist.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .