The only female contestant participating in machine shearing at the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in New Zealand, February 8-11, is from Iceland. The 38-year-old Heiða Guðý Ásgeirsdóttir is better known in Iceland as ‘Heiða the mountain valley farmer’ after a popular book by that name about her life as a farmer came out before Christmas, written by Steinunn Sigurðardóttir.
Heiða has been farming at a remote farm in South Iceland for 15 years. Before becoming a farmer, she was considered a promising model. “My interest was just incredible limited. This was like an exhibition of rams, and I was the ram. Everyone gazing at me,” was how she described her experience with modeling in an interview with DV.
The other Icelandic contestant in machine shearing, Hafliði Sævarsson, is a three-time winner of the Icelandic championship, first held in 2008. He ranked 35th and 42nd out of 54 contestants in the first two rounds, while Heiða ranked 52nd and 53rd, according to RÚV. In an interview published on the championship’s website, she remarked, “One could say I won the ladies’ [division].”
The two Icelanders had to pay their own airfare to New Zealand to participate. “I was just crazy enough to go,” Heiða confessed. “I just love shearing.”
She attended a pre-championships training courses, which taught her more in a couple of days, she stated, than she had learned during five years of shearing.