We started the morning by dipping our feet in the sulphuric (all the water smells like rotten eggs here) hot tub behind the hostel and on the side of the fjord. We hit the road around 10 and drove for the next four and a half hours, through some amazing scenery—big mountains, valleys, rivers running alongside us, and blue skies throughout. We stopped briefly for a drink at Blundous, but continued straight to Akyureri, as we needed to have the car back for 1:00, and were running pretty late. At 1:40, we finally got to the rental agency, held our breath that they wouldn’t mind it being a bit late, and then sat on the curb to wait for our host/boss for the next 20 days, B.
So far he seems really friendly, and he took us on a little driving tour of the town, which is really cute and I hope we get to see it properly, and then up to their ski hill, which was not so impressive, in order to see the town, which certainly was. It’s an absolutely gorgeous view down the valley and into the fjord, especially today, which was lovely and sunny.
We then drove about 20 minutes back to the farm, which has been in his family for five generations, and which is nestled in another lovely valley. He showed us the farmhouse where we’ll be staying, which is a bit chaotic, but friendly none-the-less, and then after a lunch of fresh from their cows milk, bread, lamb spread (like liverwurst, it was great), we headed out to do chores for the evening.
There are quite a few animals here, starting with four absolutely adorable sheepdog puppies, some week-old kittens, a day-old lamb, and a day-old calf! There are about 50 cows in total, 30 in milking, and then a bunch more little ones and mysteriously separated ones. Maybe teenage boys going off to other things? There are about 30 sheep, including 2 rams, and then maybe 8 horses outside, one gorgeous paint stallion inside, and three young ones in training, also inside. Our chores were to feed and water the horses, feed the goats, water some of the cows, sweep the cow areas where they stand (in tie stalls), sweep all the walkways, scrape and wash down the grates behind the cows where they poo (yup, it’s lovely), and wash the cows’ udders as well as expressing some milk from each teat in preparation for milking, which is done with some pretty nifty automated machines. It’s a good thing C and I learned the basics of milking with Poppy, or we would never have had a hope!
I’m going to leave it at that for the animals and spread that out a bit over the next few posts, as otherwise I will have run out of things to say after two days, I imagine. The whole shebang took about 2.5 to 3 hours, and left us with no doubts that we will be fit at the end of our three-week stint as Icelandic dairy farmers.
We finished around 7 and headed back into the house, at which point B stripped down to his undies and left his barn clothes in the front hall before running upstairs. C and I were like, hey, uh….we’ll leave our clothes on, thanks. He jumped straight in the shower and then bolted off, as he’s performing in a play this evening, put on by a farmers association in the region. They’ve sold out 28 performances this year, and tonight and tomorrow are the last two. The play? The Full Monty! He showed us an ad for the play and they are all naked in the hay. All I could come up with to say was, ‘that must have been itchy.’ Haha. Apparently all the actors also made a calendar, and he promised to bring one home for us.
Left to our own devices, we made cheese sandwiches and ate some pear yogurt he left for us. It’s an Icelandic yogurt and it is really thick and creamy and amazing. We fought with the horrible internet some more, I tried to work, and we’re calling it a very early night now as the cows need to be milked at 7 tomorrow.