Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Icelandic Sheep

The raise and eat a lot of sheep in Iceland. In May, all the pregnant ewes give birth. There is something so pure about a mom an babe together, no matter what the species. As we traveled all around Iceland, we saw hundreds of Ewes with new baby lambs. Some had twins and triplets. They were cute, pretty much no matter what they were doing.

These poor guys somehow has missed what the rest of the flock was doing and the sheepdog decided it's job was done and went back home without rounding up these last two. They were wandering down the road in front of us, afraid of the car. I felt sorry for them.

There were black and white sheep.

Dave found a farm tour where you could watch the lambs being born and hold a new little lamb. We were quite excited to do this. Especially once we figured out that it was 10$ and not 100$. Pesky decimal point.

When we walked into the lambing barn, the smell of sheep, sheep pee and sheep poop was overwhelming. We went in and after a few minutes it didn't seem so bad. William was a nice guy from France who was working here. He had no prior experience with sheep, but the farm taught him what he needed to know. He helped some sheep give birth so we could be sure and see some. And then he went and got some slightly older lambs for us to hold.

They were quite cute although mine pooped on me.

The sheep dog was very vigilant about the sheep. Monitoring them and making sure they knew who the boss was.

There were also a few Icelandic goats in the pens. They are endangered. At one point there was only 90 of them. They breed them just to increase their numbers.

The lambs are kept in the barn with their moms for about a week and then turned out to pasture. After about a month in the pasture, all the sheep in Iceland are just turned loose to roam wherever they want until about October. In October, they are all gathered and then divided into these wagon wheel pen, going back to each farmer that owns them. They can tell by the ear tags.

In the fall, the lambs that aren't saved for breeding are sent to slaughter. And yes, I did eat some lamb while in Iceland, as cute as they are.
At the end of our visit, we went to the bathroom and cleaned up as well as we could. We then went on to the rest of our day at a national park and then into Reykjavik. We settled into a restaurant to have a nice dinner for our last night in Iceland. The waiter came up. paused, looked like maybe he sniffed. Then he said, "Have you been horse back riding?"  I looked at him kind of horrified. I said, " No, we had been to a sheep farm though and held baby lambs. Why do we smell?"  He went on to say how special it was to see baby lambs being born. Obviously we stunk like a barnyard all day long and had no idea. It was hilarious.

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