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Iceland Mag

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A couple of city slickers became sheep farmers by accident

By Sara McMahon

  • Exhausted sheep farmers. Musician Svavar Eysteinsson and journalist Berglind Häsler became sheep farmers in east Iceland by accident. Photo/Hrólfur Svavarsson

It was a series of life-changing circumstances that led to Berglind Häsler, a freelance journalist, and Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson, a musician and entrepreneur, buying the farm Karlsstaðir in Berufjörður, east Iceland, and a rather unexpected career change for the young couple. With absolutely no background in agriculture, Berglind claims she has been “googling” her way through the farm chores.

The family took over the farm only three weeks ago and are still getting used to the dramatic change. The farmland is roughly 130 hectares (321 acres) in size and has about sixty sheep. Berglind took time off during the hectic lambing season to chat with Iceland Magazine.

“It wasn’t really our plan to become sheep farmers, that’s just how things escalated. Svavar has roots here in Berufjörður; His mother grew up on the next farm and he spent his summers here as a child, so he has some experience in this field, unlike myself,” she explains. 

The farmland came with livestock, a dog named Píla (Dart), farm sheds, a farm house and an old, deserted building which the couple intends to renovate and convert into a guesthouse and artist-residency.
“That’s our big project – renovating the old house. We’d like to get involved in agritourism in the near future and run a small café on the farm.

Friends will have to work for their keep

A lot of work awaits the couple this summer and Berglind admits she intends to exploit any friend who comes to visit them.
“Most of our friends can’t wait to visit us, and we´re very excited to have them over. But room and board does not come free; they’ll have to work for their keep,” she says firmly, punctuating the sentence with a laugh.

Berglind and Svavar aim to manufacture “bulsur”, vegan sausages made from Icelandic barley, kidney beans and other tasty ingredients, on the farm. The couple started the business in 2012 and spent a whole year developing the product before it became available in stores. The twosome will soon add a new type of bulsur to the existing product line.

“Djúpivogur district focuses on “slow food” and “slow travel” and that fits our ideology perfectly. We aim to produce new and exciting products from i.e. turnips and rhubarb in the near future, so tourists who visit Karlsstaðir will be able to buy local products, enjoy the great outdoors as well as various cultural events.”

Left Dangsnes with heavy hearts

The family had been living on a farm just outside Drangsnes town in the Westfjords for the past year. Asked why they decided to relocate, Berglind explains it was because there was no farmland for sale in that region.

“Drangsnes is a wonderful town and it was with heavy hearts that we left. Svavar and I first moved from Reykjavík to Seyðisfjörður in 2008, it was a completely new and very dramatic experience for us. The idea of buying a farm arose after our stay in Seyðisfjörður. We wanted to stay in the country, but take the country life even further. And here we are,” she concludes.  


Hrólfur, the couple's son, and the dog Píla in front of the old farmhouse. The mountain Berunestindur is in the background. Photos/Berglind Häsler

 


Lambing season is in full swing these days.
 

A lot of work awaits the couple this summer. They intend to turn the old farmhouse into a guesthouse and artist-residency. 
 

Peace and quiet. The farmland streaches from the mountains and down to the seafront. 

 

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