This is the second post in the Hvalfjörður – Backyard of Reykjavík series that follows a trip the boyfriend and I took to our neighbors in Hvalfjörður earlier in May.
As you may or may not have noticed I’m a bit obsessed with sheep. I love photographing their silly faces and tiny little lambs are just about the cutest thing ever. So I was very happy when I discovered that the lovely Arnheiður in Bjarteyjarsandur farm in Hvalfjörður is offering a new program (a more appropriate word that tour I think), available to all visitors, called Hug-a-lamb in Bjarteyjarsandur.
Basically you just book the visit online at a time that suits you and then Arnheiður and her crew will take you to the sheep shed at Bjarteyjarsandur after giving you some basic background information about the farm and the sheep of course, where you can quite literally hug a tiny little newborn lamb. Of course the lamb season is only a limited period but you can also visit the farm outside of it although there might not be lots of lambs around. If you’re lucky you might also see a lamb being born or meet one of the mamas to be that are so big that they’re basically about to burst. It’s the most adorable thing I’ve heard of in a long time.
Arnheiður and her family have probably welcomed thousands of Icelandic kindergarten children over the years to their farm for the same purpose so they have a lot of experience in both dealing with humans and also knowing when the lambs have had enough. So you don’t have to worry about the well being of the animals. When we were chatting with Arnheiður and especially her husband Guðmundur during out visit in Bjarteyjarsandur they spoke so fondly of their animals that it’s obvious that they really care for them. It was quite endearing actually.
After we met with the lambs Arnheiður and Guðmundur invited us to dinner in their little restaurant where Arnheiður cooked everything herself and she mostly used ingredients that originate in the farm. So we had a delicious double smoked blueberry infused sheep as a starter along with mussels that they pick from the beach below the farm. Then we had free range pork which they grow themselves but the pigs got to roam around freely while they were alive and only ate vegetables and leftovers from the hotel we were staying at, the farm and other places in the neighborhood. They even had home made bacon. Then for dessert we got a skyr/cheese cake that was just yummy and the best one I’ve had in a long time. They were delightful company and we had a great time.
Maybe you don’t find it appealing to go to a farm, visit the animals and then eat their brothers and sisters but this is how our meat is produced and if you ask me I’d rather eat at a farm like Bjarteyjarsandur, where the animals are well taken care of by good people, than factory produced meat. I often tell people that I think we as Icelanders are in many ways more connected with the origins of our food than many other nations, especially the lamb and the fish, because we all have relatives that are farmers and fishermen. We understand the connection between cute lambs and a delicious leg of lamb and mostly find it OK (even though Guðmundur did make fun of some of my more sincere city-girl comments about the sheep). Partly because of that connection I would recommend to anyone that hasn’t been around farms before to use the opportunity to visit one while they’re in Iceland. Naturally I recommend Bjarteyjasandur for such a visit.
When Arnheiður is not showing people her lambs or cooking she is also a tour guide and she offers tours around Hvalfjörður, including to the waterfall Glymur, both to groups and individuals. So if you want to take a tour with an enthusiastic local that really loves her area (wait, that sounds vaguely familiar) you should check her out. The boyfriend and I walked around with her for a short while before we visited the farm and we both really enjoyed it despite the rain.
So if you are looking for something different to do, especially if you are traveling around with children, the Hug-A-Lamb experience is a must do for all lamb lovers. You should also stop by if you are looking for an authentic and homey meal (don’t think fancy restaurant but do think nice flavors and very friendly atmosphere) or if you are interested in buying some of their own products like the double smoked meat we had as a starter. Which was actually so good that we came back the next day to buy some to take home. There was nothing about our visit to Bjarteyjasandur that we didn’t like. Great people, great sheep, a great time.