Iceland Stories (IN PROGRESS 2019!)

I am taking my time completing this page. I am sharing it with you as-is.

Forystufé (Icelandic Leader Sheep)

On October 8th, we stayed in a home AirBnB on a sheep farm called Brekkukot.

After we were invited to eat our dinner at the family table, Magdalena, our hostess engaged us with conversation in english while her young son and husband listened.

There was a sheep head on the wall in the dining room. The sheep seemed almost like a member of the family (a pet?) so I inquired. She told me (in pretty good english) that sheep was their Leader Sheep, a special breed different from the regular sheep in the flock. They are not the breeding Ram for the flock, as they are a separate breed. The sheep had a name that I don't remember, but the breed is called "Forystufé".

Each farm has only one or two Leader Sheep depending on the size of the flock, about one leader for each 20-40 sheep. She told me that the other sheep naturally (instinctively) followed the leader sheep. She told me that in history, the leader sheep was even known to lead a group of sheep to the slaughter house, and return home alone. That killed me. She spoke emotionally about this individual, as he lorded over the dining room. I later took a photo, in private. I was reluctant to share it here last year, as this is a photo of something in a (somewhat) private home, and the story was so personal to me at the time. This year, I provide the context, and some links for you.

The Leader sheep were probably brought to Iceland together with other sheep at the time of settlement in the 8th and 9th century.

LEADING THE FLOCK This sturdy ram might be the leading-sheep in his flock. The leading-sheep can also be female.

Some leader sheep are kept safe for Artificial insemination and to conserve the breed. (has some stats)

PDF of slide presentation at EAAP annual meeting in Nantes, France! Has links to (unavailable) videos.

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Leader Sheep

Site of Last Public Execution in Iceland

The site of the last two executions (beheadings) in January 1820. See this book for more on that!

Site of last public Execution in Iceland
Site of last public Execution in Iceland

Troll Story

One year ago inIceland - Iceland's somewhat bleak landscape served as a backdrop for the inhabitant's imagination over the centuries. Trolls are everywhere you look. Small volcanic mounds are invariably topped with a tuft of grass, looking like little creatures. We drove past one farm that had perfect ones but there was nowhere to pull over. So, after some miles I settled for a family of lesser trolls. The earlier ones left No Doubt that trolls were real, in my mind.

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The Settlement Exhibition, Reykjavík 871±2

An underground museum in Reykjavík (Landnamssyningin) preserves the site of an ancient (871 AD) building... a stone foundation with sod walls and timbers holding up the roof. Only the foundation remains, but the museum has two excellent interactive 3D exhibits on the construction and functions of the building.

In a side room they had a screen and a console. The User Interface looked like a maze. It allowed you to rotate the building in 3D (Selective zooming may have also been applied automatically). You could peel off layers (eg roof, walls) to see the framing and floor plan etc by going into the next level of the maze, toward the center.

Museum website requires flash, evidently: ⤖⥉ The museum On YouTube: ⤖⥉

2.5 minute Youtube video showing only some of the museum exhibits. "The exhibition Reykjavik 871±2 shows sensitivity to place, careful integration of mixed media, multi-point accessibility, and a high standard of presentation". ("Best Design of Digital Experiences in Museums" Nodem Award 2006)

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User Interface and display of the settlement building

A World View

School - in the towns. Big on schools and community pools, retirement complexes (we think). Cities - One and only is Reykjavik, with most of the population of the country in that area. Whole country has 337,000. Oregon has 4 million! Next largest (big town small city) would be Akureyri, larger than Chewelah. A number of Chewelah-sized towns -- port towns need a fair number (1500-5000) to support the port activity.

Land Divisions: There are 23 counties and 14 independent towns in Iceland. I’m going to look into their division of government - counties, etc, for my world model.

Rural places may have 40 kids total in the school, with many grades combined, and they may use 6 small buses to get those 40 kids to school. (This story will be from one of our hosts who is/was a teacher, Magdalena, on sheep farm Brekkukot]

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===== Loose notes =====

This is at the Halldor Laxness museum, in what was the living room, or perhaps larger dining area. The Glass Artist is unknown to me. There is a more complex piece in the house by Icelandic glass artist Gerður Helgadóttir, a friend/contemporary Laxness knew.

POWER -- geo-thermal & hydro
I did see a pair of transmission lines (two tower designs) running in parallel over the landscape elsewhere. The power is coming from hydro projects, according to the signs, not geothermal. I haven’t seen any dams. Something to research. They don’t have huge reservoirs, just a lot of reliable runoff from rain and snow melt. [YES! Dams in the interior. I found a National Geographic story on Power, and have located several dam projects on Google Maps. Will share on Stories page ASAP]

About Generating power.... They use the super-hot water from geo-thermal wells (hot springs) at the power plant to heat a closed loop system, like a refrigerator in reverse, producing a uniform pressure to drive turbine generators. i.e. A gas/chemical liquid boils at a lower temperature expanding into a gas to drive the turbine, and is then condensed by cooling towers. Anyway, the earth's hot water is a heat source that drives the turbines indirectly.

At this little roadside inn, HVERINN, we had two delicious bowls of soup with rolls for lunch, with coffee. The owner and cook, Bragi, came to our table and answered all our questions while we ate. He said we should detour into the nearby Hot Spring, the largest in Europe, that produces hot water for the whole area. We were seeing distribution nodes along the roadside. After lunch, we bought a bag of Bragi's carrots, which we were going to cook sometime, I guess. Icelandic Horses were not interested in them, and the carrots ended up being confiscated at PDX on our return. I must tell that story to Bragi!

My photos of the Deildartunguhver Thermal Spring don't do it justice - steam everywhere, huge pipes, etc. On the info board -- 180 liters per second of near boiling water. 62 megawatts they say. Go figure. FYI, HVER means Hot Spring of the geo-thermal kind.

Bragi also operates a campground there.., the gimmick is to Sleep in a Greenshouse! which might be welcome in the winter. Anything to make money out there, growing carrots, etc. Check out the prices on the Restaurant menu! (Burger is only 1600-2300kr, or about $16-$23)

We found this package drop in rural Iceland amusing...

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Roadside Trunk

We had heard that prices for everything were going to be high, but did not have any data on food. We paid ahead for airfare, the FlyBus, car rental, most lodging, and the Ferry, but didn't know what other prices would be. Here is a story, which I will add to my future Stories page: When we were first on foot in Reyjavik, we spotted a gas station. The reader board displayed 209.9. We though That can't be right! But then realized is was per Liter, and then realized it was 209 króna! So, after a little confusion, wondering how many kilometers per liter our rental car would go, I arrived at $8/gallon, and converted the total planned trip into miles, and used the milage of our CRV in Oregon for reckoning. Similarly, at our first fill-up, we had to guess an amount to preauthorize the transaction for, and so on.

Facts and theory about Icelandic Hotdogs, made with an undisclosed portion of sheep meat.

A giant concrete sphere will be moved 50 feet each year, demarcating the shifting Arctic Circle. Thank You. (There are Other links in my JOURNAL).


Story Text here.

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Another Story Text here.

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