Every year, in September, it’s time to round up the sheep from the mountains and valleys. Farmers drive the sheep down from the mountains into an enclosure where family members separate the sheep by owner. There are some farmers who claim to remember each of them. It’s a long day with lots of work, but the day always ends with a big party. The sheep round-up is known as Réttir.
Icelandic lamb has a fine grain and is especially lean. The arctic sun keeps the sheep up all day and night eating–making them put on weight almost twice as fast as lamb in other countries. This means the lambs are slaughtered at six months rather than the usual eleven months. Icelandic lamb is beginning to grab the attention of buyers and chef around the world, including Chef Robert Wiedmaier from Washington D.C. who considers Icelandic lamb to be the best tasting in the world.
Who amongst you would like to be involved with such an activity? Who would love to gather the sheep by horseback and drive them down into the sheepfold? You can’t be scared of an early morning followed by a late night, filled with song and dance. It’s definitely an experience you won’t soon forget.
For more information on joining a réttir this year, check out these tours.
Réttir remains an important part of Icelandic culture, a tradition that keeps them tied to the past. It’s even featured in Icelandic rap videos.