The sheep of Iceland, bless them, have eaten the place down to rock.
The Icelandic government pays farmers to plant trees.On farms no-one lives on anymore. Along a river diverted to a hydroelectric dam one valley over. Sturluflöt
This was the old road to the south. That was a farm to the left. Below the stone. It would support the trees growing on the scree in the back, but farmers are farmers the world over.
They just don’t trust trees. Or rivers. Sheep, they like sheep. So they herd trees, They put them out to pasture.And that’s nature in Iceland: a project made out of sheep, government subsidy and resistance, often all at once. Oh, and depopulation. Iceland is an urban country. Rather than being nature, the land is a kind of ruin. Brrr.Everyone, time to go home. You can so farm a city, just not on work days.
That nature stuff is for tourists.
The lush fields of Iceland are created by nitrate fertilizer. This is the new Iceland. It’s not prosperous. Look how it relies on old buildings in disrepair, or ignores them completely. That is the reality of survival when most everyone has gone to the city, yet still needs to eat from the land. In the image below, you can see, perhaps, the buildings of the post-war years tucked behind a hill, the old house field, the tun, that kept the farm alive in the foreground, beneath the oil tanks, and the new, industrialized fields int he distance. The old is still here.Here in the far north, the progression is even more clear: driftwood from Norway or Russia, an old turf house, the tun gone yellow with wild flowers in front of the slope where the old house once stood, a rusted oil tank, and an old fish-drying shed. The new, industrial fields are in the upper right. It’s cold here on the Greenland Sea.The pattern is repeated everywhere, as it is here at Kirkjubærjarklaustur: new barn, old barn, new industrial fields, the tun plowed over, but a gate from the 1970s, and that Siberian driftwood once again.If the Icelanders are saying their country is prospering, don’t say no. They want to stay a part of the world. It’s hard to do so. The land, however, is crying.
What are fences for?In some countries, fences are to separate herds from grain land, or to divide pasture land, for successive grazing over a season, or just to keep the stock off the road. In Iceland, it’s a bit different. It’s something people learned from the land and tried out.
Now to figure out what is being fenced in, or fenced out! Not these reindeer. They just walk over fences.
Not these horses.
No fence required! Not the people below…
That’s not a fence, just posts to keep the people from falling over into the grass. It’s a mystery!
Perhaps it’s the dead? Such as here at Kirkjubærjarklaustur?
Na. They can get out on the other side. I think it’s just a gesture, to show the mind its limits. This too:
So, like, a halter for the human will!
The Old Milking Bucket of Skriðuklaustur
In Germany of this period, it would have been collected, melted down, and turned into a Tiger tank. Here it’s compost.
It’s hard to imagine that it isn’t part of the story of the abandoned houses in each of the two images above.
Iceland is not wild. That’s the point. These reindeer in the East were introduced. In keeping with the gesture, they do prefer farmer’s fields over mountain heights.
I think that means that farms are wild in Iceland: not yet domesticated. Let it remain so.
… and when to leave it at home.
No tractors at rush hour on workdays.