Our Beloved Sheep

When I started taking photographs of the horses here in Iceland I often saw interesting opportunities to take photographs of the Icelandic sheep. The sheep are one of the world’s oldest and purest breeds of sheep. Growing up in the West Fjords as a young boy my family had sheep witch ware kept not faraway from our home in Thingeyri. A very common thing to do for many family’s back in the day, not so much now.

I had to help with their feeding during wintertime, collecting them late in the summer from the fields and mountains and helping with making food from them. They also are a very interesting animal to photograph and a little more challenging than horse photography. The sheep is partly wild and approaching them can be difficult . The male Ram´s are especially difficult and often they just turn their backside to you. Getting them to look straight into the lens can be frustrating  but when they do and also have big horns it is rewarding.

Sheep History
Throughout its 1100 years of history, the Icelandic breed has been truly triple-purpose, treasured for its meat, fiber and milk.
The Icelandic breed is in the North European short-tailed group of sheep, which exhibits a fluke-shaped, naturally short tail. To ensure the continuing purity of the breed, tail docking an Icelandic will disqualify it from being registered in North America.
Icelandic sheep are a mid-sized breed with ewes averaging 130-160 pounds, and rams averaging 180-220 pounds. Conformation is generally short legged and stocky. The face and legs are free of wool. The fleece is dual-coated and comes in white as well as a range of browns, grays and blacks. There are both horned and polled strains. Left unshorn for the winter, the breed is very cold hardy.