Pat and Sharon in a bicycle taxi near the Eiffel Tower
Faithful blog readers may have noticed a lack of posts for the past few weeks. We have a good excuse–right in the middle of gathering, sorting, shipping, etc., Pat and I told Meghan and Eamon “Good luck!” and left for Iceland and France.
We met several of our old (meaning long-time, of course) friends for a reunion. Luckily, several speak French and know a lot about Paris. We also visited Julia and Benoit, who spent a few days on the ranch last spring. They live in the farming area near Laval, and gave us tours of both farms and a nearby medieval castle, and an abbey, which happened to be the fantastical Mont Saint Michel.
Our friend Bob hanging out with the locals in Reykjavik.
This is a sheep truck at a processing plant in Selfoss.
sheep by lava field, near Grindivik, Iceland
Benoit and Julia’s sheep near Laval, France
Pat with Julia in front of their 400-year-old farmhouse
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
Icelandic ewes, descended from Viking stock
Icelandic sheep in barn, where they spend most of the winter
Pat with our new-found farmer friends
Icelandic cat and cow
Proud farmer. Each cow has a name, production records and lineage going back to the Vikings.
Sharon visits with a farmer about his sheep
church near Vic
Looking south to the sun over the North Atlantic
the mountains north of Vic
Two night trolls were pushing a ship when they were caught by the morning light and turned to stone
Patrick and Sharon O'Toole are ranchers in the Little Snake River Valley on the Wyoming-Colorado border. They represent the fourth generation on the six-generation family ranch. The O'Tooles raise cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and children on their high country ranching operation. The transhumance operation stretches from north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado to Wyoming's Red Desert.
Pat has served in the Wyoming House of Representatives, the Western Water Policy Commission, and is currently President of the Family Farm Alliance, representing irrigators and water users in the western United States. He is active with several conservation and agricultural organizations.
Sharon is a writer and poet. She writes extensively on western issues, and the relationship between landscape, animals and people. She is widely published as an author, essayist and editorial commentator.
Pat and Sharon have three children. Their daughter, Meghan and her husband Brian Lally, live on the ranch with their children, Siobhán, Seamus, Maeve and Tiarnán. Meghan has also served on the Wyoming Board of Agriculture and the Environmental Quality Council, She and Brian are active in community service.
Daughter Bridget lives in Phoenix with her husband, Chris Abel, where she works in health care communications. Chris works in the food distribution business.
Son Eamon and his wife Megan live on the ranch with their sons, McCoy and Rhen. Eamon is a horseman and natural resource manager, and Megan is a flight nurse. Eamon is a member of the Wyoming Beef Council and is active in the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
The blog traces the activities and life on the ranch, from the mundane to the fabulous.