Iceland - land of the sheep and the hidden people. Small wonder there is a folk tale connecting both. „Iceland’s elf folklore, at its core, reflects the plight of a nation living in abject poverty on the edge of the inhabitable world and it’s people’s heroic efforts - physically, emotionally and spiritually.“ says Alda Sigmungsdottir, author of the book „The little book of the hidden people“.
While flying over Iceland I read through the lines of this book and fall in love with one particular story, „Ewes impregnated by elf rames". In Iceland I meet Salbjörg in the Westfjords, the most uninhabited area of Iceland. She lives in the small town Holmavik and works in the department there. It’s 2 pm, the store closes, some inhabitants visit her for a chat and a coffee. We talk about the remoteness and the peacefulness of this area. A man, sitting right next to her, bemoans the sunshine. „You should have been here on a foggy or rainy day. You’d see the mythical power of this area.“
It happened shortly before Christmas on a farm outer Hrutafjördur fjord that a shepard noticed that three ewes were missing. It was evening, and a search for them was not possible since the darkness had already fallen. Early the next day, however, they were back with the rest of the flock, so no more though was given to this incident. Mating season came and those three ewes showed no sign of coming into heat. There was some concern that they might have come into contact with rams from other farms. Word was sent out asking whether anyone at the nearby farms had seen them, with or without rams, on that particular day. But no one had. The ewes were soon discovered to be pregnant. The following spring, shortly before regular lambing season, two of them gave birth to white ewe lambs. The third ewe bore no lamb and never did after that. One of the ewe lamb disappeared that spring, but the other one lived and grew large. It gave off vast amount of wool, more than the farmer’s other shearlings, so that in the spring the fleece weighed two and a half pound after it had been washed and dried. This was considered very unusual, and therefore it was believed likely that the ewes had been impregnated by elf rams.