The Icelandic sheep sailed across the ocean with our ancestor and settled down in Iceland.
Through the time it has adopted to Icelandic conditions and always been part of our rural landscape and nature. The role that it has played has changed, in the beginning the products were used to feed the family and keep it warm. Times change and the farmers too, and it became business to sell meat and wool and is still done that way today.
The Icelandic sheep is known for the wool which has great quality to keep you warm, the variety in colours is special; white, grey, black, brown, and sometimes a mix of those colours. Few are those homes that don ́t have a hand-knitted wool sweater. The Icelandic wool sweater is known for a wide variety of patters, known as “Íslenska lopapeysan” in Icelandic. The wool has been used to keep humans warm since the settlement, it is part of our culture and history and still today wool sweaters are knitted and sold. There are some brands that especially manufacture from Icelandic wool.
A year in a sheep life is divided in seasonal periods, in the wintertime they stay at the farm and are fed, in the spring they are taken to the mountains with their young ones and roam free over the summertime. In the fall they are gathered, and the main social event for the farmers is when they collect their sheep which is conducted in a round-up where each farmer has a space to collect their sheep. Then the farmers take their herd to the farm where the future of the lambs is decided. Each farm has a number for their sheep, so they can know which belongs to them. The title of the photo is the number that my farm had, our number was 3M6.
The photo is symbolic for me personally where this is the last time that we collected our sheep from the mountains. We like so many other farmers had to sell our farm. Where there are harsh circumstances in Iceland for sheep farmers, low market price for products is the main reason. But this will always be a big part of me and my family, a big part in our family history. It is special to be a farmer’s daughter and a landscape architect, and often I use my heritage and knowledge in my landscape design.
Rural landscape category:
- Food and livelihood security
- Local and Traditional Knowledge Systems
- Cultures, Value Systems and Social Organisations
Author(s): Íris Reynisdóttir
Photo Credit: Íris Reynisdóttir