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Réttir í Miðfjörður - Rounding up sheep in Miðfjörður - Day 2

Pictures are at the bottom...

We knew we'd have to get up early, so that we wouldn't be overrun by sheep coming down the valley the next morning, but even as we were getting up at 6:45, two local lads, already fairly tipsy, rode up to camp on their sturdy white horses, checking that we were awake and going to be ok. I think they thought it was just rather crazy that we had been camping. It was chilly, with frost on the tent, but nothing too serious. As they say, no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. Before we even broke camp, we could see the herd coming down the valley towards us, and we thought we'd really have to get our arses moving.

But, we actually had time. They were coming down the other side of the river, and we were never actually going to be in the way. :)

Still, we headed off. We'd planned on following the herd down the valley to the pens, but pulling into camp last night, we'd run into one of the local farmers, and when we asked what time the sorting was going to start, he asked us, "Which one?" which threw us a bit. Turns out there was sheep sorting in the afternoon, but horse sorting in the morning, this being one of the horse vallies of the north. None of us had ever been to a horse sorting, and Ásta even owns horses, so we ditched our plans to follow the sheep downvalley, and headed straight for the Réttir. (It's also the name of the sorting pen, not just the name of the day)

Of course, we were now insanely early, with some of the woman only just arriving to open up the shed, and start getting food ready. We cooked a small breakfast, and dozed in the morning sun. A beautiful crisp autumn day.

And then the horses came. Hundreds of them, galloping down the road from a holding pen they'd been in overnight, and all crowded into the big sorting yard. Mares and foals of all sizes and colours, including some very young foals who must have been born quite late in the season.

The horse sorting was completely different to the sheep sorting I'd seen before. All the horse owners gathered in the central yard, and the horses mostly ran around them in circles while they each cut out the mare's they owned. They mostly tried to let the foals follow their mothers, and they could always tell when they'd gotten the pairings right because the mare and foal would stop squealing out to each other. It was rather different. No ear tags, no numbers, everyone recognised their own horses, even though there were hundreds, and they ran 6-7 batches of horses through the sorting pen before they were finished.

And the horse owners! Completely different themselves. Some in fancy riding boots, combed and watered hair, and a riding crop, some in dirty overralls, bearded and holding a long bit of fence post, and all working together to get the job done. Of course, some horses didn't really feel like being sorted, and one managed to even jump back out of the pen, though he didn't get too far :)

With the horses all sorted, and the crowd growing, it was time for lunch, put on by the local women in a shed by the pens. They had a cold buffet, as well as hotdogs and soft drinks, with everyone milling around. Others had brought their own picnic lunches. But we were all just waiting for the sheep to arrive though. This was a much much larger roundup than the one I'd been to before at , this had three separate herds being driven down to the pens, and the pen was probably double the size.

And then they arrived. Sheep after sheep, rolling over the hillsides. Bjöggi and I were straight into it this year, it feels good, sneaking up on sheep and grabbing them by their horns before they can get away. Hard work mind you, I'm sure you learn more tricks, but I still had some nice bruises on my thighs from horns the next day :) And so the day went, sorting sheep, meeting and greeting people. Kata got some good interviews, and we all had fun with the sights and sounds of the day. And between herds of sheep arriving, we even had some time to play with the camera :)

Oh, as a final note, this was the first trip with my new camera, I'd only picked it up 25minutes before leaving for the trip, so I had quite a bit of learning and adjusting to do. This is also the first gallery where I've tried to get the film clips to play here on the webpage. They should also play for more people now. :) Movies suck. I hate movies. I hate the world of video so incredibly much. No movies for you.

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