, 2022-10-28 02:00:00,
I must have looked a little sheepish while attempting to maneuver a ram from one side of a holding pen to the other, because a young Icelandic boy approached me with some advice. “Try squeezing it harder between your legs,” he said in English, referring to the animal that I was straddling, “and lift its front off the ground by picking it up with its horns. It will make moving him easier.”
The whole thing felt unnatural, but the boy was right: With the sheep’s own front legs in the air and my thighs working at full capacity, I was essentially able to wiggle our way to the appropriate farmer, identifiable by the mix of numbers and letters hanging above the farmer’s paddock that matched those on the sheep’s own identification tag.
This is Iceland’s annual rettir, a roundup of sheep that takes place across Iceland each September. The centuries-old tradition involves sorting these woolly creatures after a summer of free-grazing on mountain grasses and berries in the highlands, where natural predators are nonexistent. These days, the rettir has morphed from its roots as a necessity among farmers into a multigenerational celebration that includes family and…
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