Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Day I: Traveling and Getting Settled

Hello Everyone!
   This is my first time posting as I just arrived in Iceland today. So far today has been rather uneventful, lambing is not supposed to pick up for another week and to tell the truth, I slept through most of this morning.
The plane was named after a volcano and this was adhered to the outside of the plane so you saw it as you boarded.
   My flight left Logan airport in Boston at 9:30 pm last night and the plane was older and small.  That meant the seats were very hard and stiff, so 5 hours in an uncomfortable seat meant no sleep, so when I arrived this morning at 6am Iceland time, it was 2 am in Boston. Then I didn't get a chance to sleep for another 3 hours. Coincidentally Maria met one of her American friends, Shane Mitchell, who is a writer and is publishing a book on different foods from all around the world (Iceland being one of those countries) in October, at arrivals in the airport. We gave her a ride into downtown Reykjavik and it was beautiful, so I got to see the city without traffic as it was almost 7am and nobody was awake yet. We dropped her off and made our way into the country for a 2 hour drive up north to the farm. It was cloudy and cold but that didn't take away from the view as we drove further from civilization.  On the plane, I read this factoid about Iceland being the most trees planted per capita in the world, but strangely enough there aren't any trees. Maria explained that people like to buy up land and just go crazy planting saplings for no reason other than tax benefits from the government, but other than that, the land is rock, grass, and moss; very different than back home.

   We got to the farm at 9:30am and I got settled in my room by taking a quick nap, what was supposed to be an hour turned into four. When I finally woke up it was close to 2 so I decided to get dressed in some barn clothes and make my way down to the 'sheep stables', there Maria showed me around and pointed out the different organizational pattern for her sheep. They were separated depending on how many babies they are expected to have, so twins, singles, and triplets or more. There is also a separate pen for the yearlings because they are more likely to have trouble having their babies. Then we spent the day tagging all the newer lambs.
Maria calls this ewe Crazy, so I told her about our Crazy's Girl at UMaine and she really liked that name so the little ewe Maria is tagging in the picture is now Crazy Girl 2.0

  Maria has this yellow book that is specifically for lambing season. It lists all the ewes that are pregnant with their names (if they have one) and their ear tag number. It also lists descriptive traits in code form so if a ewe has a 10 in that column, that means she is white. There are about 20 different descriptive codes, like brown, or white with black, or black with white, or one horned, two horned, etc. It gets very specific. Then in the ewe's row, there are also columns for birth date, how many, sex of the lambs, descriptive code, and lamb identification number. Each lamb gets their own lamb number and thats just numerically how many lambs have been born (in multiple births the ram is tagged before the ewe if they are twins), then once they are a yearling, having a baby for the first time, they get an adult number, which is more specific, like the year they were born and the number lamb they were that year and those are registered in the yellow book.

   Nothing else really happened today, its been pretty calm but thats because the storm comes next week.
This is just a really cute grey ewe lamb that I was holding right before Maria tagged her.

Until next time!!


  1. Glad you got there uneventfully and, as long as you can hold a lamb, you won't miss us at Fiber Friends on Friday! So enjoying this blog and so looking forward to more from you great students! Nonni

  2. SO glad to hear that you had a safe trip. Arriving in Iceland for the first time is a bit like landing on another planet...