STORY HIGHLIGHTS


Rettir-Iceland's sheep roundup

CNC
Added On September 24, 2015

Icelandic sheep are free to roam the mountains and valleys during summer, but every September, they will be all rounded-up and brought home for the winter.

 
Today we take you to join the group to help out sheepherders to get their flock back...
 
The annual sheep round up has become one of Iceland's oldest cultural traditions, an event called Rettir in Icelandic.
 
With sheep outnumbering humans by a ratio of about 3:1,  farmers invite family members, friends and even visitors to join the Icelandic game all over the country before the chilly winter comes.
 
For the second time joining his family, Gudmundur Kristinsson said the idyllic event brings the children  good experience of nature.
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) GUDMUNDUR KRISTINSSON, Farmer's family member
"It's a good experience for the kids to experience the gathering of the sheep. They are living in the city and have no experience the nature. It's quite a experience where they get experienced the nature and see how it was a hundred years ago."
 
But it is really a time consuming job. According to Farmers' Association of Iceland, rounding up the flock in the highland and leading them to the fold may cost one to seven days. 
 
When the search is over and all the sheep are accounted for, the fat frisky lambs, ewes and rams, are herded into a corral.
 
Then they are inspected and sorted into the correct pens belonging to individual farms by the plastic ID tag attached to the lamb's ears.
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) GUDMUNDUR KRISTINSSON, Farmer's family member
"And individual farmers, they find the sheep, take them on the trucks to the home and decide which one should live and which one should go to the slaughter house for the dishes."
 
Gudmundur said they managed to find about 60 fat sheep out of 80 of the farm for gourmets.
 
Running a farm is more likely a family business. Sigrun Jona Jonsdottir said his farm has been passed on for four generations.
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SIGRUN JONA JONSDOTTIR, Farmer
"We are four generations as my families are here. I took over my grandfather's farm and I have always lived here and been always running after sheep in these mountains since I was seven."
 
Estimating a harvest of four tones of mutton in this season, the 34-year-old woman farmer said her family has done a better job this year.
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SIGRUN JONA JONSDOTTIR, Farmer
"I have got more than last year. I have really many sheep now. I am surprised how many are here already. But half my sheep are home already, so I am filling up the rest."
 
Known as an ancient Nordic breed, Icelandic sheep have been regarded as one of the keys to survival in the country, as people feed themselves on their meat and milk and make warm clothes from the wool.