Thursday, 24 September 2015

Réttir, Joining the Annual Sheep Roundup in Blonduos

Sheep heading into the sorting pens at the Blonduos Réttir.
I created a sense of movement by shooting at 1/25s and panning the lens at (approximately) the same speed as the sheep.
It's a bit of a hit and miss because it depends on the light, the speed of the sheep and the (up and down) stability of the lens as you pan.

Every year in late September there's a sheep roundup in Iceland called Réttir. Farmers and their families spread out across the mountain ranges, with the help of sheepdogs and Icelandic horses, to bring in their sheep.
They've been out grazing since May but, sheep being sheep, most have have strayed far and wide  from home turf - as well as possibly being mixed up with many other farmer's sheep.
Once the sheep that can be found are rounded up into a large field somewhere the rest of the community turn up and herd the lot into the sorting pens - you see these pens dotted about the fjords as you drive through Iceland.
For two days the lost sheep are sorted by ear tags into each of the farmer's pens, then loaded into a truck, trailer, van or ute for the ride back to the farm where they will spend the colder winter months under cover. It's a very hectic two days and I guess, as a farmer, a tense time as you find out how many you might have lost, or gained since the Spring.
At the two roundups we visited we spotted at least one official who was there to record all the lost or yet to be claimed sheep - animals that had either strayed far too far off the farm or that had perhaps had lost their tags. These are then entered into a log for farmers to claim when they have the time. 

At a Réttir near Akureyri, Northern Iceland.

This is a sheep dog's best day of the year
Once a sheep was identified the best course is to straddle its neck and use the horns as a 'steering wheel'.
You than have to shuffle the struggling sheep across the melee to the allocated temporary holding pen before loading them into a vehicle.

All the kids join in.
Some help to read the tags while the slightly older ones try their skills at sheep wrangling

This kid was really getting stuck into the whole hauling the sheep off to the pen bit but ended up on his backside a couple of times because the sheep wasn't having any of it!

A sheep roundup is also a day to celebrate, catch up with the neighbours and generally have a bit of fun.
The event has a very friendly and fun atmosphere.

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