3 Interesting facts about the Sheep of the Faroe Islands
So I have a minor obsession with sheep and it started when I visited the Faroe Islands. While I was surrounded by jaw-dropping landscapes I found myself sprawled on the ground trying to snap pictures of the sheep.
I loved that their eyes followed you with suspicion. I loved the way their heads tilted, like they're trying to figure you out. They seemed to be as curious about me as I was about them.
Here's a few things I learned about the Faroese sheep
1. The sheep make The Fashion
I found out that there's more sheep on The Faroe Islands than people. In fact "The Faroe Islands" literally translates to, "The Islands of Sheep". They come in different colours and are a unique breed to the islands.
Centuries ago, wool was the primary source of exportation on the islands. While it's not as big as the past, it's still part of their culture and you can find some incredible fashion brands like Gudrun Gudrun, who hand knit their apparel. If my body didn't repel the feeling of wool I would have indulged in one of their sweaters, they were hella stylish.
2. The sheep shape the landscape
One Faroese man told us that the sheep are a bit of a nuisance because they eat all the vegetation, which means they're not able to grow trees on the islands.
He was also able to pick out his sheep as we hiked along the hills. He knew which belonged to him and which were his neighbours. There's clearly a strong connection between the Faroese and their sheep.
3. The sheep feed the people
Ending on a bit of a morbid note but as you can expect, The Faroese eat lamb. Living on the islands has it's challenges. Importing food is pricy and with the grazing sheep, colder climate and soil conditions, it's hard to grow much in the way of agriculture. So the Faroese have traditionally come to rely on sheep for a source of nutrition.
The restaurant Áarstova in Tórshavn serves up an amazing lamb shoulder. If you're feeling adventurous you can also try raest, which translates to "fermented", and as you guessed, is fermented sheep. This is a traditional dish born out of the Faroese necessity to preserve their meat all year long. I tried it, didn't love it but have a whole new appreciation for the Faroese who do.