"Farm Life Stories from Iceland" were written as emails for some friends. Now the story continues here. If you know me in real please dont let that show in your comments.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Year Ago and Today

Year ago I woke up at Muck Site for first time and for first time saw Hawk Dale and mountain view from kitchen windows in day light. I still remember the "WOW" feeling.
 I still love viewing from the kitchen windows.

Today has been so beautiful day. Frosty and sunny and still. After milking and feeding and mucking cows and calves and bulls we were driving back and fords the valley between farms with sheep in horse box behind Terrano. There is this yearly rally with sheep every autumn farmers driving around with them. At the end each sheep should end up to the farm where it belongs to.

When Bergur left me and Fjóla home and drove away with last sheep to be transported today I turned my attention to two lambs who had escaped the day before from our hunt at Hædirs. I checked their current location from the kitchen window with binoculars, asked Fjóla to be ready to help me if it looked I was getting them home wards, took Teddy with me in Micra and drove along the track below Hædirs about 1 and half kilometer to get close to were I had seen the lambs. On the way I saw a very ill lamb lying on the grass and knew it would have to be shot. Also I saw small flock of sheep near the lambs I was after. I had not seen the sheep with binoculars but them being there could be good help with getting the lambs. When driven little past the lambs I left the car and keeping Teddy tied with me started quietly up Hædirs. I hoisted Teddy over bar wired fences twice and when we had got above the lambs I shouted at them and Teddy barked. The sheep started running home wards and the two lambs joined them. Excellent. I rang to Fjóla and told this was looking possible and asked her to open gates ready at home. She said she would send Bergur. Soon I saw Terrano on the track and Bergur rang.

He   - Are you with all these sheep?

Me   - Yes.

He   - What sheep are they? Are they ours or some new sheep?

Me   - I dont know but the lambs are with them now. They just happened to be
          near them.

He    - Ok. I try to see you, bye.

It was getting dark and I probably was camoued against the rocks.

The sheep are not slow and I could see them far ahead starting to head up. I knew if they got to the narrow grassy way between rocks they would have way open to run higher and they would escape. Bergur from the track could see the same and rang to tell that that was what they were planing. I run as I could. When I came to the rocks at mouth of the grassy way I could not see the sheep and was wondering had they already gone up or were they just below the rocks I was. Called Bergur.

Me              - Were are they?

Bergur        - Now you should run and shout and let the dog run too.

Me              - I can not see them.

Bergur        - Run!

So, I undid the string to let Teddy go and urged him shouting "Go! Go! Go" and run forward myself. For a short moment we just shouted and barged and run. Teddy could not see the sheep either and was doing high jumps trying to get more view. Then we saw them. They were just round the rocks and close. Not a moment too early we blocked their way up. And without Teddy they would have gone regardless of me and my running and shouting. Teddy has not been trained for herding and I didnt think he can be in any use with sheep. But now I know better. I learned only this week that I can use him and he is good help and it is a joy working with him. Its not possible to tell him exact directions, he just runs straight at the animals the line he happens to be and barks and sometimes gives a nip at their hind legs. But he comes to me when I call, even with a delay sometimes, and he does not go if I tell him not to, even sometimes he can not stop himself, but mostly. With these simple commands I can use him. "Come Here!", "Go, Go, Go!" and "Teddy, No!",  If he chases animals wrong way I call him to me, then I keep him with me and move myself to right line with the animals and let him go again.

Now seeing us the sheep turned and Teddy shot after them. There was a battle of wills on the rocks the sheep wanting to get up the Hædirs and I wanting to get them down and home. They tried to head put Teddy and Teddy is a softy and easily runs away. I urged him at them again and finally the sheep went down the rocks and they and Teddy disappeared with speed. Soon I saw the sheep standing at the gate behind sheep shed and Teddy was back with me. That gate was closed and I was worried I would panic the sheep if going closer. I tied Teddy in string again and called Bergur.

Me     -What should I do now? Can you see them at the closed gate?

He     - Yes I see them. I opened the gate below in the corner and the gate other
            side the sheep shed. Im thinking should I call Fjóla and ask her to come
            and open this gate?

Me    - Yes, ask, I'll wait here.

I sat down with Teddy to wait. When Fjóla came the sheep fled from that gate and disappeared from my sight. I run closer and when I saw them next they were just walking in to fence trough the gate other side the sheep shed. Success!

Bergur to me            - That was good work there, you are getting good.

Well, certainly getting better. Im learning. Sometimes it works but many times this autumn I have been beaten by sheep and been very very annoyed.

Fjóla                          - Getting so good that she could be a farmer herself. I'll go
                                     and start milking.

Me                             - I'll put cows ready for you but Bergur, I would then like
                                    you to give me lift by JD (John Deere tractor) to get my
                                    car back and you should take the gun with you, there is
                                    a sick lamb on the way.

Bergur                       - I have never liked to kill an animal. Can we not wait till

Me                             - No. We can not. It will not live till tomorrow but we are
                                    not going to just leave it there.

   When days work is done I sit in darkness outside the house wearing thermal overalls. I have my arm round Teddy the Icelandic Sheep Dog and the northern lights on the Icelandic sky and the Icelandic people who I like inside the house and nothing more I need. Im happy.

There is some changes from year ago with some things.
     Year ago I failed even to see the sheep. I remember Bergur trying to point them to me on hillside but I just could not see them and Bergur was losing his hope on me. It was not about bad eye sight. It was about not being used to the wide view and finding something from it. But now it has been often me spotting the sheep first.
     Year ago when Bergur got me from Reykjavik he did not like Subway. He reluctantly entered because I wanted. He wanted me to order first so he could see how it works. Recently when he and Fjóla returned from Reykjavik Fjóla told with laugh that Bergur had taken her to Subway. And never before even Fjóla likes Subway. Now he had gone in first and made his order with confidence and eaten his bread with good appetite.
      Year ago Bergur thought that women were not allowed to work in garage. I wanted to hear why.  He said, "because they are women". Had I been 15 years younger I had gone furious but not anymore. I have fixed quite a few broken things for him since. As it happens that some point in life before Iceland I did work a few years in a garage and learned some farm useful skills.  "You are not so stupid. Do you want I call the local garage and ask if they want an expert?" Bergur said when I found out why Terrano was not starting and got it going. And his face was worth seeing when I came to show him joint axle from slurry wagon I had got fixed. He had tried and failed with it saying, "needs to take it to real garage". He could carry on slurry driving instead of driving to "real garage". I take these fixing things as interesting challenge and get quite excited about welding broken wheel barrow for example. And there is no big pressure as if I fail then the thing can be taken to "real garage" and if I manage, then bravo!
     Bergur has not let me drive slurry though. He says there would not be anything special left for him then. I still hope he yet will let me but I have been busy enough with everything else there is to do to push it.



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