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Rudolph's a dear for Route 2 drivers

December 27, 2011

Special to the Standard

EXETER – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer does, in fact, have a very shiny nose. It is made of the largest size red gazing ball typically found on pedestals in flower gardens.
Since October, this particular deer, perched in a Large and In Charge fashion in the field next to Schartner Farm on South Country Trail, has had several incarnations. Made of huge bales of hay – both rolled and rectangular – it was a witch for Halloween and a Pilgrim for Thanksgiving.
The artist channeling his inner Rodin in a brown and crunchy medium is Dave Oliveira, who normally works in Schartner’s greenhouse. He also produces Hay Man, a figure that presides over the maze each autumn.
“I just look around and find things,” he says in describing the materials used in his creations which are extremely popular with drivers who stop to take photos. “The day we built Rudolph, every car that passed beeped the horn.”
Besides the gazing ball, Rudolph’s parts include tree branches serving as antlers, a red fabric scarf, huge black eyes made of trash bags wrapped around inverted coco shell hanging baskets and boots (boots?) fashioned from two rectangular hay bales wrapped in black trash bags.
Apparently, hooves are too difficult.
“Rudolph doesn’t have an hourglass figure,” Oliveira laughs. After being used for two months and sitting out in all sorts of weather, the hay was turning into what-the-hay.
“There were only a few bales from the witch and they weren’t good, so I filled in.”
It took an entire morning to position the big round bale that’s the head atop a vertical bale, wrapped in burlap to represent the torso; a band of natural hay made a belt. Finishing with the legs – there are only two, but then Rudolph’s sitting up like a begging dog – was a matter of pushing the two smaller bales into place.
There was a bow tie, adds Oliveira, but it’s gone with the wind.
Martha Smith is an award-winning journaist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN and can be reached at

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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