RÉTTIR – Chasing sheep in Iceland

RÉTTIR – Chasing sheep in Iceland

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White Walkers! Anton cheers gleefully, a cheer which is absolutely not relevant if one sees a white walker. The White Walkers we see are fluffy, funny and look like they’ve got no idea what’s going on (and they don’t really care). They don’t like independence. They stick together, like a shoal of fish. They are the Icelandic sheep.

icelandic-sheep

 

We met them for the first time at the Rettir – the annual day when all farmers in Iceland collect their sheep from the green mossy mountain slopes. The sheep in Iceland have an awesome summer – they live wild and free in the mountains between May and October. In October, to protect them from the Icelandic winter, the farmers go to the mountains and collect them. That happens through chasing the sheep with running and hollering. They don’t really wanna go back to the farm because as we all know, it’s nice in the mountains.

It’s a big thing here, the Rettir – there is much joy and excitement in the farmers’ families as they gather together for a day of hiking and running after sheep. It all ends with very tasty reward meal and super expensive beer (there is no other type of beer in Iceland).

We were a part of the Rettir, helping a family in East Iceland on their herding sheep day. It was really nice to see the excitement of their children as relatives and friends came to the farm to help. There was anticipation in the air. We were all given chocolates, signal jackets, walkie-talkies and send to the mountains. It was well organized with a plan for action and a constant communication between all of us sheep chasers. The sheeps stand no chance. At all.

Signal Jackets and Walkie Talkies. And laughter of course
Signal Jackets and Walkie Talkies. And laughter of course

 

The view from the mountain where we collected the sheep
The view from the mountain where we collected the sheep

 

The image of a running sheep is a funny thing to see. They run chaotically like they’ve got no sense of direction. Their legs – too thin to carry all this future-Icelandic-wool. So confused.

At the end, when all the sheep are collected from the mountains, farmers from nearby farms come to pick up theirs. They sort them using the number of the farm and after that, they just chill around looking at the sheep. Just like that for an hour.

The place where all the sheep were being sorted from the farmers
The place where all the sheep were being sorted from the farmers

 

Chilling around the sheep
Chilling around the sheep

 

Farmers from the nearest farms sort the sheep
Farmers from the nearest farms sort the sheep

 

sheep-iceland

 

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