Every autumn or more specifically, every September in Iceland, is a very special time of year. It’s the time of one of Iceland’s oldest traditions and cultural events called Réttir, or in English “The round-up of sheep”. During this time, farmers and local community all over the country get together to collect their sheep – and most notably, it’s the time when the sheep gain the ability to fly… more on that shortly! ;-)
In late May or early June, each localfarmer let’s out his sheep to roam wild during the summer season. The newbornlambs, which are just a few weeks old at that time, finally get the chance toexperience the Icelandic nature. It’s one of the secrets behind the incrediblequality of the Icelandic sheep and is something that has been practised by theIcelanders since early settlement. The sheep spend the summer in the pristineIcelandic nature, free from any pollutants and medication. During this time,they live a happy life and the fact, that the new-born lambs gain up tosix-times their own body weight in just 3-4 months, speaks for itself.
Come autumn, it’s time for the farmers togather their sheep, which by then, have spread to the far corners of theirregion. It’s a joint effort by the entire community, with youngsters joining inon the round-up, and it is traditionally performed on horse back. Obviously,the sheep do not follow roads or common walking paths, meaning that it can be abit of a challenge for the farmers to reach their woolly friends. Even with theavailability of quad-bikes and modern machinery, the Icelandic horse often turnsout to be the only way to access the sheep, crossing both lava fields, riversand mountains. The unique experience of each individual farmer plays a big partin fine-combing the landscape and more often than not, the farmers know thebehaviour of their own sheep.
Once gathered and led by the farmers, they headback to the corral, often a historical one which has been used for decades, andin some instances, even centuries. We, from Live Icelandic, paid a visit to theroundup in West Iceland – named Fljótstúngurétt located close to the townReykholt. Situated in a stunningly beautiful landscape, the corral itself is inlarge made up by volcanic rock, known as “hraun” in Icelandic. Standing by the corral,it’s easy to recognise the arrival of the sheep as there is an army of “baaaas”gradually approaching. It’s at this very special moment, that the Icelandicsheep decide to unleash their very own superhero skill, the ability to fly! Theyfly over one another, or just straight up in the air with an unbelievable forcethat seems effortless. Now we know why counting flying lambs is an insomniaremedy, looking at this definitely calms you down J