If you have an Instagram account and have any sort of interest in the countryside or farming (as you are on thinkingcountry the latter can be assumed) you may well have heard of Pálína Axelsdóttir Njarðvík who now has over 35,000 followers on her ‘farmlifeiceland‘ page. The vast majority of her photos are of sheep as well as farm life and some simply of the glorious Icelandic landscape around her. As an introduction take a look at this short film by David Oddgeirsson.
I asked her a few questions.
Pálína, thank you for speaking to me. I think you must rank among the most followed sheep farmers on Instagram! How many sheep do you have?
Around 300 winter fed ewes.
How long have you worked with them?
Since forever, I grew up around sheep.
Why do you enjoy working with them?
They are fun and they all have unique personalities. A lot of the work involves being outdoors, which is good.
You now have over 35,000 followers on Instagram, which is an incredible following, especially for a farmer(!), why did you start to post photos of your life on there?
I didn’t want to drown my friends in sheep photos on my personal instagram so I decided to make an account just for that…then from there it just took off somehow.
How quickly did the page grow and why do you think people are so interested in it?
It grew pretty quickly. I think its because life in rural Iceland is something very few people know about and people tend to like cute animals. There is no other account doing exactly the same as me. Iceland is very popular right now so that must also help.
What are some of the challenges of farming in Iceland?
The weather is so unpredictable, often harsh conditions. If the summer is cold and wet, we might not be able to cut as much hay as we need. The weather affects everything we do in some way. But you also have to learn to get on with what you have to do, even when the weather is very bad.
What would you do if you didn’t farm?
I’m not a full time farmer, although my uncle is. I am doing a masters degree in Reykjavík so most of my time is spent there. I have no idea what I’ll do when I’m “grown up”. 🙂
What do you get up to away from the sheep and Instagram?
Spending time with my friends, hiking and travelling.
What are the benefits of living a rural life?
The peace and quiet is lovely. Closeness to nature and animals is a huge benefit too.
What are the disadvantages?
I’d say being far away from most of my friends.
Do you think people in the cities understand the challenges that farmers (across the world) face?
No, just like farmers don’t understand the challenges that people in cities face. It is difficult to understand challenges that people who live a completely different life face, so we must listen to each other.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? Still farming sheep and posting on Insta?
Honestly I have no idea, hopefully! Might do something completely different, but farming will always be a part of my life for sure.
If there is a message you could send to all of your followers what would it be and why?
Think about where your meat comes from. If you don’t know that the animals were treated well, don’t support it by eating it. Animals should get to really live while they live.
To follow Pálína on Instagram you can find her page here.