Friday, 30 September 2016

Sheep Gathering

Sheep gathering in Skidadalur, North West Iceland
Autumn is the time for sheep gathering in Iceland and this postcard shows the farmers in the Skidadalur valley on their horses,  I can't spot the sheepdogs but perhaps they are still trying to get the sheep to go over the hill.

Icelandic sheep are kept under cover from November to May and set free in the mountain pastures a few weeks after lambing when they will enjoy the summer grazing on grass which will be spotted with sedge, willow, thrift and campions.  Their mountain idyll will be interrupted by the roundup, in Icelandic called réttir.  Everyone gets involved, as the sheep will be scattered far and wide and need to be maneuvered down steep hillsides and over mountain streams, this will take about a week with overnight stays in mountain huts.  The sheep have distinctive ear markings which identify which farmer they belong to and when they are all eventually herded to their destination will be sorted into pens by these markings.  Many more people will appear on the last day of the sorting to take part in the celebrations of the end of sheep gathering for the year, part of the Icelandic cultural heritage.  One can imagine those early Viking settlers who brought the first sheep all those centuries ago doing the same thing.

 Postcards for the Weekend theme - Domesticated Animals - enjoy more at Connections to the World 
 
    

6 comments:

Maria said...

Sounds like a fantastic experience to join in that activity! Thanks so much for sharing this postcard & telling the story about Icelandic sheep gathering.

John Edwards said...

A beautiful and interesting card.

Helen said...

Really interesting! I don't see any sheepdogs either, I wonder what kind they use if they do?

DawnTreader said...

Lovely view. Iceland would not have been the first country to jump to mind for me at first glance.

Joy said...

I believe the Icelandic sheepdog is like a spitz Helen. The ones I've seen are brown with a curled tail.

Eva A. said...

Nice postcard. After publishing the reading animals, I realised that I have some postcards showing sheep, too. As a knitter, I love them!