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Meet the ‘Vikings’ with an Irish connection dairy-farming in a cold, dark ‘paradise’

Þorgrímur Einar Guðbjartsson, who can trace his ancestry back to Iceland’s first Viking settlers, balances modern technology and ancient traditions on his farm and creamery, with all the heat coming from geothermal energy. He explains how he copes when there’s just four hours of daylight, why farm security is not necessary in his country


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Different way of life: Þorgrímur Einar Guðbjartsson farms the same lands in Sauðafell as his ancestors, more than 1,000 years before him. Photos: Niall Hurson

Different way of life: Þorgrímur Einar Guðbjartsson farms the same lands in Sauðafell as his ancestors, more than 1,000 years before him. Photos: Niall Hurson

The Icelandic dairy cow is small in stature and weighs less than 500kg on average

The Icelandic dairy cow is small in stature and weighs less than 500kg on average

Sheep on a typical Icelandic landscape

Sheep on a typical Icelandic landscape

Bags of fertiliser are just left by the roadside, with no fear of thievery

Bags of fertiliser are just left by the roadside, with no fear of thievery

Almost half of the 24,000 dairy cows in Iceland are milked by robots

Almost half of the 24,000 dairy cows in Iceland are milked by robots

There has been no cross-breeding with the Icelandic dairy cow, which makes it one of the oldest pure-breeds in Europe

There has been no cross-breeding with the Icelandic dairy cow, which makes it one of the oldest pure-breeds in Europe

Jóhanna Bergmann Þorvaldsdóttir has been credited with ensuring a future for the Icelandic goat

Jóhanna Bergmann Þorvaldsdóttir has been credited with ensuring a future for the Icelandic goat

Over 20,000L of milk is used on farm for dairy products

Over 20,000L of milk is used on farm for dairy products

An Icelandic goat kid

An Icelandic goat kid

It is believed the breed originated from Norway and has been isolated since the first settlement in Iceland.

It is believed the breed originated from Norway and has been isolated since the first settlement in Iceland.

Heat for the dairy unit is provided through a geothermal spring, located 6km away

Heat for the dairy unit is provided through a geothermal spring, located 6km away

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Different way of life: Þorgrímur Einar Guðbjartsson farms the same lands in Sauðafell as his ancestors, more than 1,000 years before him. Photos: Niall Hurson

Nestled among some of the largest glaciers in Europe, as well as several of the world’s most active volcanoes, is Erpsstaðir Creamery.

The small-scale, family-owned dairy processing unit is a two-hour drive north of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.


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