Sunday, May 7, 2017

Day 1

Jess and I left at 9:30pm on Saturday night to take the red eye to Iceland. We arrived with about an hour of awkward plane ride sleep between us to find an equally as exhausted Dana in the airport at 6:00am Iceland time. Snædis came to pick us up with the first priority being food! We stocked up on lots of, as Snædis would say, energy dense food... aka chocolate milk, hot dogs, etc. Apparently, in the morning at Icelandic grocery stores, it is uncommon for people to make large purchases and we got a lot of stares bringing our three carts of groceries to check-out. We have a lot of people to feed and when you wrestle with irritable pregnant ewes you need all the energy you can get! We had a nice tour of the southeastern part of Iceland as we made our way to Hestur.

As you can see in the pictures, Iceland has almost no trees. Snædis explained that most of the trees were cut down when Iceland was being colonized and they never replanted. They have made an effort to plant pine trees recently and some could be seen on the sides of the mountains. One of the things Hestur has in surplus is swans! They were all over the fields, we were told that they were protected by the government even though they rip up plants in the fields damaging their crop. We arrived at Hestur, unpacked and prepared to get straight to work. We all agreed that given we needed to accustom ourselves to the 4 hour time change we needed to stay awake all day. Cue Dana and Jess 15 minutes after that conversation. 

We eventually got going and headed down to the barn for our lesson in how to run an Icelandic sheep farm with ~800 sheep. Our first lesson was that with lambing there is life but also death when our first ewe went into labor. She had a large ram lamb who was positioned backward. All of the rams here have large horns (I will post a picture later) and when horn buds come out backward, it creates big problems. The lamb came out dead, Snædis made every attempt to revive him but it did not work. It was sad but we had to keep moving because we had many other ewes that were also in labor. Everyone else was successful and had healthy robust lambs. We were shown the art of moving lambs around to different moms to ensure that the lamb would get the best care. (It involves a lot of after birth.) We also learned that horns are the best handles ever when moving a sheep, but also hurts A LOT when that sheep hooks you with them. A lot of the ewes are adverse to our affection and seemed offended by my attempts to scratch them. 
(Miss One-horn Fuzzy Bottom)

(All of the many, many white ewes)

However, this is only day 1 and I will do my best to earn their love. With that, plan for more of an informational post tomorrow because right now (even though it is only 7:30 pm) I need sleep!!

Here is the sight I get to see from my room, a beautiful landscape with Icelandic horses!


  1. I am here crying over your post. Everything you wrote about brought back so many fond memories for me as I relive my first days in Iceland through you. You guys are going to rock this lambing season! And no joke, chocolate
    Milk will be your new Red Bull! So proud of you guys!!!!!

  2. So excited and happy you ladies get to have this experience! I look forward to reading your posts!