Farm Trip! (Puppies!) (Hvolpar*!)

*A cursory dictionary search came up with this as the term for “puppies,” which sounds a lot less cuddly to me. Is there some adorable Icelandic word for puppies that I am missing?

A few weekends ago, the good people at Fulbright (in conjunction with the good people at the Fulbright Alumni Association and the good people at the Icelandic Search and Rescue Association) took a group of us out for lunch on a farm in the country. “Lunch on an Icelandic farm,” sounds delightful to be sure, but this was a huge understatement. Because what we actually got was:

  • an informative driving tour through the incredible Reykjanes peninsula
  • a delicious afternoon “snack” consisting of home-grown, homemade rhubarb pie with currants, homemade whipped cream, and a side of home-smoked sheep–not lamb, sheep–with creamy Icelandic butter on flat bread (think of it like the delicious Icelandic equivalent of chicken and waffles, although really, I think I prefer this version)
  • a few hours of absolute, unbridled joy spent with three Icelandic sheep dog puppies
  • a demonstration of the five canters (I hope that is the right term) of the Icelandic horse: Icelandic horses have one more canter than horses typically do, which I was interested to learn
  • a brief break for picking a rather wide variety of fresh vegetables from the garden: mustard greens, turnips and carrots, lettuce, arugula…
  • and finally, one of the most lovely, cozy dinner feasts I’ve ever had in my life: creamy mushroom soup, a super buttery, super creamy langoustine ‘stew’ served on thick (buttered) toast, salad, fresh lamb on a different kind of delicious warm roll, mashed turnips, potatoes, and homemade gravy.

It was a beautiful day, and honestly, I was so busy enjoying it and the general peacefulness of a horse farm in the Icelandic countryside that I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I could have (no food shots, for one). But I think I got enough for some good vicarious travel.

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(Sorry–I tried to break these up into several slide shows, but couldn’t figure it out. So we’ll have to make due with one big one and details below.)

Our first stop on the drive out of Reykjavík, as you can see above, was at a large fish drying station. One of the people with us said that when she was young, she had worked at a fish factory that used to send her out to a station like this on warm summer days–it was, apparently, a rather good job because you got to spend so much time outdoors during nice weather. You can probably tell from the photos above that not all the things drying were fish–there seem to have been some sort of ray drying as well, although none of the Icelanders among us could figure out what exactly it was. The guess was that the rays were meant for export, rather than local consumption.

After the fish station (and now with this song well-lodged in my brain), we continued to the Krýsuvík geothermal area, more particularly Seltún. These hot springs (not the kind for bathing, mind you!) were pretty amazing–located slightly uphill in an otherwise, vast and empty landscape. I might also add that where many hot springs in Iceland have that eggy sulfur smell, Mark and I both agreed that this one smelled a lot saltier, more mineraly.

After our short detour at Seltún, we made it to the horse farm and embarked on the rest of the lovely afternoon summarized above. I wish that I had more puppy pictures to show you–if you want to see a group of reasonable adults turn to jelly in four second flat, break out the Icelandic sheep dog pups, for sure–but I do not wish that I had spent less time with my face buried in puppy fur. So you’ll just have to infer from what we have here that they were amazingly adorable.

Also, not to knock the horses: they were wonderful and just a little intimidating up close. They are smaller than most horses, but they are feisty–two or three of them just couldn’t keep from picking up their back legs and ramming whichever horse happened to be next to them with all of their might. I fed pellet snacks to a few of the horses, which was also kind of scary, but invigorating for sure.

Again, a wonderful day. Would not be a bad life to live on a daily basis for sure.

 

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