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Iceland, the Northern Lights and Buckets

20 Feb
Sharon and Pat at the beach near Vic, Iceland

Sharon and Pat at the beach near Vic, Iceland

riders near Vic

riders near Vic

Icelandic horses near Selfoss

Icelandic horses near Selfoss, descended from Viking stock

It has been my dream (read Bucket List) to visit Iceland in the winter to see the Northern Lights.  When I have expressed this goal to friends, the usual reaction is something like,”Whadaya, nuts?!”  I recently turned 60, and at the end of a really wonderful party attended by family and friends, Pat handed me a book on Iceland.

“We leave on Wednesday,” he said.  This was a Saturday.

We did get to see the Northern Lights, which as it turns out, is not at all a sure thing.  We also stayed on two farms and were treated to tours and long discussions about livestock and farming in Iceland.  Almost all of Iceland’s many tourists visit in the summer months (go figure) so folks had time to spend with us.

We learned that not only are the horses, sheep and cows descended from the original animals that came from Scandanavia in the late 800’s, but most of the people are too.  Turns out the Vikings stopped by Ireland and Scotland to pick up “thralls” on their way to Iceland, so the people are of both Nordic and Celtic descent

Here are some photos of Iceland in winter..

farm with shelter belt to protect from rock slides

farm with shelter belt to protect from rock slides

Icelandic ewes, descended from Viking stock

Icelandic ewes, descended from Viking stock

Icelandic sheep in barn, where they spend most of the winter

Icelandic sheep in barn, where they spend most of the winter

Pat with our new-found farmer friends

Pat with our new-found farmer friends

Idelandic cat and cow

Idelandic cat and cow

Proud farmer.  Each cow has a name, production records and lineage going back to the Vikings.

Proud farmer. Each cow has a name, production records and lineage going back to the Vikings.

Sharon visits with a farmer about his sheep

Sharon visits with a farmer about his sheep

church near Vic

church near Vic

Looking south to the sun overt the North Atlantic

Looking south to the sun overt the North Atlantic

the mountains north of Vic

the mountains north of Vic

Two night trolls were pushing a ship when they were caught by the morning light and turned to stone

Two night trolls  were pushing a ship when they were caught by the morning light and turned to stone

sign on the beach--sadly I couldn't read it

sign on the beach–sadly I couldn’t read it

Sharon with waterfall

Sharon with waterfall

Pat and host, sheep

our host and Pat with Icelandic sheep

 

Blue Lagoon bathers

Blue Lagoon bathers

not the Northern Lights, but sunrise near Selfoss

not the Northern Lights, but sunrise near Selfoss

 
 

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8 responses to “Iceland, the Northern Lights and Buckets

  1. Andrea Graham

    February 20, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    You lucky duck! What a great present. Iceland’s on my list, too, but in the summer.

     
  2. Pat H

    February 20, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    Wow! I’m envious. I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland also, and have suggested a winter trip, to which I’ve received no enthusiastic replies!

     
    • Ladder Ranch

      February 25, 2013 at 10:25 PM

      I had a lot of trouble finding enthusiastic companions to Iceland in the winter (except you, Robin Bois!). Luckily, my husband decided that it was a great idea.

       
  3. Dina ♥

    February 21, 2013 at 2:50 AM

    Great post, you make me want to go there!
    best regards
    Dina

     
  4. muriel

    February 25, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    Thanks for all the nice photos. I’m also interested in visiting Iceland and the Faroes. (The Faroes is named after sheep, so you’d also be at home there. 🙂

    Do they cut fodder all summer for the winter? How much do the sheep go outside in winter? Did you see any “Leader Sheep”? Do the Icelandic horses winter postly outdoors ? Do they shelter under roofs much?

     
    • Ladder Ranch

      February 25, 2013 at 10:22 PM

      They do put up hay in the summer months to feed the cows, sheep and horses in the winter. As far as we could tell, the horses winter outside. The cows, who are short-haired, are shedded all winter, just like in Europe. They produce both milk and meat. In general, the sheep are shedded in the winter. On some farms they are let outside on nice days, but are fed hay inside. We did not see any Leader Sheep, but read about them. We visited two farms in the Southwest, and asked a lot of questions. The sheep are outside on meadows in the spring and fall and spend the summers, unherded, on mountain pastures. Their only predator is the Arctic Fox so they do not have a lot of predator loss. Most of the fall gather of the sheep is done on foot since the ground is so rough from volcanic activity. I think where it is feasible to gather the sheep with horses, they do so. It seemed to me that they could make use of herding dogs more than they do. I am just conveying my observations and conversations, but it may vary on other parts of the Island.

       
  5. muriel

    February 26, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Many thanks for the additional info!

     

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