These are some of the ingredients of the Icelandic sheep round-ups that are going on all over the country these months. When the sheep give up and just lie there puffing their lungs out, and any true animal lover would want to play nurse, a farmer simply rides by it and lifts it onto his horse’s neck by the horns in order to give it a ride down the hill. There is a constant loud bleating and barking from everywhere as the dogs kick up a row among the sheep, pounding down the mountain. You can feel it in the ground and in your chest when they, in a panic, start storming the fences. And you can´t help laughing as a first timer when you watch the old men and the farmer’s wives doing jumping jacks in the attempt to scare the sheep in the right direction, while their husbands are singing national songs behind the fold and having a sip of each others hip flasks.
As the singing drunk cowboys reelingly approach the sorting fold with hundreds of sheep running in front of them and a few unconscious hanging from the horses necks, the gates are opened, the sheep gallop in and the party begins. Men, women and children of all ages enter the middle of the fold and start jumping onto the sheep, struggling to hold them still by the horns long enough to look them in the ear, identify them and drag them to the right fold.
Smiling grandfathers take their young grandchildren lamb-chasing as the sheep charge around the fold and you worry for the children’s safety. Everywhere people sit on the fences in their stinking snowsuits chatting, laughing and drinking whilst watching the chaos in the middle of the fold. In one fold a farmer’s wife scuttles about serving oversized lunchpacks to the cowboys who laughingly make jokes and have their hip flasks refilled. In another some young German girls are giggling at a middle-aged singing man with an old cowboyhat, who is too drunk to fight when a farmer picks him up and puts him backwards on horseback. The whole fold is laughing but the man doesnt seem to notice. He proudly puts his foot in the stirrup in order to fulfil his job at the round up and get the sheep home safely. He jumps besides the walking horse, one foot in the stirrop, the other on the grass. Impressively the tipsy cowboy manages not only to get on the horse, but also to ride it to the sheep in front of him. Followed by the giggling German girls, who concentrate on not laughing too loudly, the cowboy and his sheep lurch into the sunset.