Farmers in Northeast Iceland embarked on a different kind of rescue mission this week: to bring over a dozen sheep to safety after the animals had spent almost an entire year outside. In an interview with Iceland Review, Hermann Herbertsson of Sigríðarstaðir farm explained that after sighting the wayward flock in January, he and a group of farmers in the area had finally been able to rescue 16 sheep and one newborn lamb last Sunday.
[media-credit name=”Hermann Róbert Herbertsson” align=”alignnone” width=”860″] [/media-credit]
Icelandic sheep are generally ‘free range,’ grazing far and wide around their farms until they are brought in during the annual fall réttir, or round-up. It isn’t uncommon, however, for there to be stubborn hold-outs who either elude capture or simply can’t be found before winter sets in. Hermann explained that he and his neighbours knew there was a group of sheep in Hjaltadalur valley, located just south of Fnjóskadalur valley, although they didn’t realise there were so many. But the valley is enclosed by steep cliffs and the rivers did not freeze over this winter. So it wasn’t possible for the would-be rescuers to reach the animals on sleds, as they normally would have.
Finally, last Sunday, Hermann and his neighbours were able to reach the valley in 4WD vehicles and snowmobiles. He said that many of them had never been to the valley, so not only was it a rescue mission, it was also something of a sightseeing adventure as well. When they arrived, they expected to find maybe ten sheep in total. Instead, they found ten from Brúnagerði farm alone, and then three each from two other nearby farms. Moreover, one of the ewes from Brúnagerði had just given birth to a lamb and another was pregnant. All of the animals, including the newborn lamb, were recovered safe and sound, and the pregnant ewe gave birth to two lambs on Thursday, warm in a sheep shed.