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This is an article published in 2014 by the online magazine Blær (the name meaninggentle breeze”). Here we see an interview with a farmer from southern Iceland where he shows us his chicken farm and discusses his love for hens. Read the original article on Blæ

Eggs as a subscription service eggsEgg as a subscription, as a subscription service í áskrift

A visit to Júlíus, a farmer at Þykkvabær, who offers people to foster chickens and get eggs as a subscription a visitiHeimsókn totil Júlíus (male name) Júlíusar a farmer bónda oná ÞykkvibærÞykkvabæ the sem offersbýður peoplefólki to foster, to take into their careað fóstra hens, chickens hænur andog to get eggs egg as a subscriptioní áskrift

words, textTexti: Svanhildur Gréta photographs Ljósmyndir: Júlía

Júlíus Már, farmer at Þykkvabær, has dedicated his life to preserving the stock of the Icelandic Chicken (known as “the settler hen”). (male name)Júlíus Már farmer bóndi oná ÞykkvabærÞykkvabæ has hefur dedicated dedicatedtileinkað life lífi hissínu to itþví to preserve að varðveita stock; base stockstofn of the Icelandic Chicken, of the settler heníslensku landnámshænunnar. Júlíus has been a farmer for quite some years, but has been working on rebuilding the farm at Þykkvabær after a catastrophic fire at his old farm, at Tjörn in Vatnsnes. Júlíus iser a farmerbóndi to many years of many yearstil margra ára buten has hefur workedunnið at uppbygging to rebuild, to reconstruct rebuilding, reconstructingthe rebuildinguppbyggingu the far búsins at, on á ÞykkvabærÞykkvabæ aftereftir catastrophic, forceful catastrophicskæðan fire bruna on á the old farm of his his old farmgamla bænum sínum on á (a town in the north of Iceland) Tjörn í Vatnsnesi. Over 200 of his Icelandic Chicken perished in the fire. As a result, Júlíus was forced to abandon the farm, as the Ministry of Agriculture had by now allocated his land to other causes. thereÞar perished, diedperishedfórust "on the third hundred" = more than 200á þriðja hundrað Icelandic Chickens, settler chickenslandnámshænur andog needed þurfti Júlíus to abandon að yfirgefa the farm bæinn as a result of, in the wake ofas a resultí kjölfarið aftereftir að Ministry of Agriculture landbúnaðarráðuneytið allocatedúthlutaði the plot, the landthe plotlóðinni somewhere elseannað. But prior to that, he managed to save around 100 eggs from the fire and put them in his neighbor’s incubator (a machine that keeps eggs warm until they hatch). before, priorÁður managedtókst he honum thoughþó to saveað bjarga about, aroundum 100 hundrað eggseggjum fromfrá fire bruna andog find a place for, put them somewherekoma them þeim find a place for, put them somewhere fyrir in í incubator (a machine that keeps eggs warm until they hatch) incubatorútungunarvél of the neighbornágrannans. Ten roosters survived, they had been situated in a different house than the hens. tenTíu roosters, male chickenshanar survivedsurvivedlifðu af whichsem were voru locatedstaðsettir iní another öðru house húsi thanen the henshænurnar. And so, the stock was preserved, and became the 230 hens it is today. in that wayÞannig was preserved, was kept safewas preservedvarðveittist the stock, the base of the species stofninn andog becamevarð að thoseþeim 230 hens hænum (here this is just a filler word)og whichsem he (referring to the stock of chicken)hann iser today í dag. Júlíus was determined to continue, unrelenting; to grow his stock of chickens and spread it around cities and villages. Júlíus wasvar determinedákveðinn (in) í continuingað halda brave, intrepid ótrauður continuing áfram; breed; cultivaterækta the stock stofninn and og spreaddreifa him honum into í citiesborgir and og townsbæi. For that reason, Júlíus has an open farm where everybody gets a chance to see the bird in its proper environment, for that reasonTil þess has, is with er Júlíus has, is with með open opið farm whereþar sem everybodyöllum gets a chance gets a chancegefst færi á to seeað sjá the birdfuglinn in í itssínu correct, proper rétta environment umhverfi, learn about it, and hopefully, to find it mesmerizing. become informedfræðast aboutum him hann andog hopefullyvonandi become enchantedheillast. In addition, everyone can purchase a hen or an egg, everybody Öllum [the service] is available to [everybody]stendur in addition to that auk þess [the service] is available to [everybody]til boða to purchase að kaupa themselves sér a hen, a chicken hænu or eða an eggegg, rent a hen, or take a hen into foster care. to rentleigja a hen, a chicken hænu or eða taketaka take into foster care, take into their care í fóstur. The business at Þykkvabær is run by passion and by pure affection for the Icelandic Chicken stock. the operation, the business activity Starfsemin on á Þykkvabæ is er run, operatedrekin by passionaf ástríðu andog pure einskærri affectionvæntumþykju totil stock stofns of the Icelandic Chicken, of the settler's chicken íslensku landnámshænunnar .

Julius welcomed us, surrounded by colorful hens, at the edge of the hayfield, after we had taken several wrong turns and had a few unsuccessful telephone calls where he attempted to give us directions. Júlíus welcomed us; took us in tók á móti okkur surrounded by umkringdur colorful; decorative colorful; decorative skrautlegum hens, chickenshænum on á the edge of the hayfield túnfæti of the farmbæjarins aftereftir að wevið had taken höfðum tekið a few nokkrar wrong, incorrect rangar turns; curves beygjur and og hadátt to, with við himhann unsuccessful, failedmisheppnuð telephone callssímtöl whereþar sem hehann tried, attempted reyndi to give us directions to give us directions að vísa okkur til vegar. At first, there was not a lot of talk, since the hens were taking care of the chatter. *there was little ofLítið var um chat spjall at firstat firstfyrst um sinn sinceþar sem the hens, the chickenshænurnar took care of sáu completelycompletelyalfarið took care of um the chatter masið. These colorful birds, that roam free around the field, are characterized by immense vitality and merriment. enormous, huge amounts enormousGríðarlegt life and vitalitylíf og fjör characterizeseinkennir theseþessa colorful colorfullitprúðu birds fugla which sem walkganga freefrjálsir about, aroundum the field the fieldtúnið.

When asked whether he has a favorite hen, Júlíus claims they are all wonderful, each in their own way. when askedAðspurður whetherhvort he hann has eigi sér some einhverja favoriteuppáhalds hen, chicken hænu says segir Júlíus they þær allallar beingvera wonderful; great frábærar in their own way á sinn hátt. That each of them has a personality. each Hver hashafi their ownsinn personality, character karakter. Most of them have a name. At the moment he is holding "Dröfn" most of themFlestar they own somthing to themselves they haveeiga þær sér a name nafn but en himselfsjálfur is holding heldur he hann is holding á (female name)Dröfn, a very calm and cuddly hen. very veryafar calm, tranquil rólegri cuddly animal cuddly animal kelirófu. Júlíus claims that the Icelandic Chicken (the "settler hen") is completely different from the conventional industry-chicken, which is called "The Italian". Júlíus sayssegir the Icelandic Chickens landnámshænurnar completely differentcompletely different gjörólíkar them þeim conventionalhefðbundnu industry-chickens verksmiðjuhænum whichsem are calledkallistThe Italian ítalinn“. The Icelandic Chicken is sturdy The Icelandic Chicken Landnámshænan is er sturdy sturdyhörð af sér, he says, and it has a strong instinct for self-preservation. sayssegir hehann and og withmeð much mikla instinct for self-reservation instinct for self-reservation sjálfsbjargarviðleitni . In addition, the hen is colorful sheHún is in addition auk þess colorful litrík, has an big attitude, and that the eggs it lays are way more delicious. with a big attiduteskapmikil andog lays [eggs] laysverpi way more mun sweet for the palate more deliciousmore deliciousgómsætari eggs eggjum.

"Here the Icelandic Chicken is allowed to grow and thrive. It can become up to 7 years old. hereHérna getsfær the Icelandic Chicken landnámshænan to grow að vaxa and og thrivedafna buten she hún can becomegetur orðið up to allt að seven sjö yearsára oldgömul. The factory bird, however, is only allowed to live in 2 years, locked in a cage. the factory bird Verksmiðjufuglinn getsfær on the other hand hins vegar onlyaðeins to live að lifa in, for í two tvö yearsár confined, locked ininnilokaður iní a cage búri. There they are grouped together without ever seeing the light of day. thereÞar areeru they þær manymargar togethersaman without án þess seeing að sjá ever nokkurn tímann light of day dagsljós. They are exhausted, and then slaughtered. they Þær areeru drivenkeyrðar out út andog thensíðan slaughtered, put down slaughteredlógað. The houses are disinfected and new chickens are bought in their place. the housesHúsin areeru disinfected disinfectedsótthreinsuð and og newnýjar hens, chickens hænur bought keyptar instead í staðinn.“

I suppose this is what the market wanted. that Þetta iser I suppose, probablyvíst thatþað which sem the marketmarkaðurinn wantedvildi. More eggs, more meat, and have it cheap. more Fleiri eggsegg, moremeira meat kjöt andog that, (here used for emphasis)það cheapódýrt.“

The business at Þykkvabæ has flourished in recent years. Júlíus has gotten around sixty subscribers, or "foster parents". the business, the operation Starfsemin oná Þykkvabæ hashefur flourished blómstrað the last síðustu years ár buten Júlíus has gotten er kominn með about um sixty sextíu subscribersáskrifendur oreða foster parents fósturforeldra. By becoming a foster parent to an Icelandic Chicken, you are supporting the breeding of the stock. *by*Með því becoming becominggerast a foster parent fósturforeldri to an Icelandic Chicken landnámshænu you are ertu supporting að styðja við the breeding, the cultivationræktun of the stockstofnsins. "From your hen you get around 20 eggs per month, over a two-year period. You can pick up your eggs in the gourmet shop "Frú Lauga", or just according to an aggreement with me. fromFrá the hen, the chickenhænunni you getfærðu about um 20 eggsegg per month á mánuði over yfir two tveggja yearsára periodtímabil which sem youþú cangetur fetch sótt iní ("Mrs. Lauga" is a gourmet shop in Reykjavík) frú Laugu or eða according to samkvæmt another öðru aggreement samkomulagi to, with við memig. You can always come and visit the hen, and see how it lives, alwaysAlltaf is allowed to, can come for a visitheimsækja the hen, the chicken hænuna, see sjá howhvernig shehún lives býr, hold it and spend time with it. holdhalda á her henni andog spend timespend timeverja tíma withmeð her henni. Taking a hen into foster care costs 25,000 ISK (250 USD), but I do not pay myself a salary and take care of the hen as if it were my own. takingAð taka a hen hænu into fosterí fóstur costs kostar 25,000 ISK (250 USD)25 þúsund krónur but en salarylaun take tek Iég noneengin and og take care of sé um the hen, the chickenhænuna assem my mína owneigin. I send out press releases, and who knows, maybe the hen will send you a Christmas card. IÉg sendsendi out út press releases press releasesfréttatilkynningar and og "who knows except" it just might be so hver veit nema the hen, the chicken hænan sends sendi youþér a Christmas card jólakort.“

Julius says it is constantly increasing that people have chickens at their home in the city. Júlíus sayssegir that it það is constantlystöðugt increasing að aukast that people fólk have hafi hens, chickenshænur byvið their home heimili sitt in í the cityborginni . All they need is a shack, a container, and some love. the only thingÞað eina which sem theyþær needþurfi is a shackkofi, a container ílát and og loveást. Keeping a hen is similar to keeping a cat. it Það iser similar similarsvipað to hold to keep an animalað halda a hen, a chicken hænu and og to keep an animal að halda a cat kött. You can easily go away for a few days, if you leave behind enough animal feed. youÞú are able to get away, can get awaykemst easily auðveldlega are able to get away, can get awayí burtu for a few days í nokkra dag if ef is lef behindskilið er eftir enough nóg ofaf animal feedanimal feedfóðri.“ At Júlíus, you can purchase a day-olds chicken for only 1,000 ISK (10 USD). atHjá Júlíusi are available, can be boughtfást days-olddaggamlir chicken, nestlingungar on, for á onlyaðeins 1,000 ISK (10 USD) þúsund krónur apiecestykkið . The price is low, he says, because of how little respect people generally have for chickens. The price is low, he says, because of how low chickens are in the ladder of respect. the price Verðið is er lowlágt, says segir hehann becausevegna þess of howhversu close to the bottomneðarlega hens, chickenshænur are séu iní the ladder of respectthe ladder of respect virðingarstiganum. In earlier times, the housewifes had chickens and took care of them. in earlier times Áður fyrr owned, had áttu the housewifes the housewifeshúsfreyjurnar the hens, the chickens hænurnar and og took care ofsáu um them þær. For country boys, however, it was humiliating to be asked to go to the henhouse to pick eggs. boys, ladsDrengjum in the countryside, ruralí sveitum felt like, were of the opinionþótti on the other hand hins vegar humiliation niðrandi to be að vera asked for, requested beðnir um to goað fara outút into í henhousehenhousehænsnakofa in order to til pick up að tína eggs egg. There was a clear gender segregation on farms, and the attitudes they had still exist today, to a certain extent. there wasÞað var clear skýr gender segregationgender segregationkynjaskipting on á farmsbæjum andog opinions, attitudes attitudesviðhorf which sem prevailprevailríkja to a certain exctent að vissu leyti still today enn þann dag í dag. Therefore, the chicken isn't held in any higher regard. thereforeÞví iser the hen, the chicken hænan not ekki appreciated appreciatedmetin more meira thanen thatþetta.“

For those who are not willing to invest in the hen, it's possible to rent hens for longer or shorter periods. forFyrir thoseþá who sem areeru notekki ready tilbúnir totil to invest inað fjárfesta í the hen, the chickenhænunni is availablestendur til boða to rent að leigja hens, chickenshænur over [a period of time] yfir longer lengri or eða shorterskemmri timetíma. I actually did this to promote the bird, and achieve a better distribution of it. thisÞetta didgerði I ég in fact, actuallyí raun in order to til þess to make something known, to promoteað kynna the bird fuglinn and og achieve better betri distribution dreifingu on, of á himhonum. If you then find out that this is not for you, or if you don't anticipate being able to support the bird any longer, the lease expires and the hen will be returned to me. ifEf youþú then síðan find outkemst að því that thisþetta is er notekki for fyrir youþig oreða you þú anticipate sérð notekki anticipate fram á to support, to mantainto supportað framfleyta the bird fuglinum for longer; anymorelengur then þá runs outrennur the lease leigusamningurinn runs out út and og the henhænan returnskemur aftur totil me mín.“

Julius says the eggs from the Icelandic Chicken are organic, and that the egg yolk has the color of a mandarin (a fruit similar to an orange). Júlíus sayssegir the eggseggin from frá the Icelandic Chicken landnámshænunni to bevera organiclífræn with með egg yolkegg yolkrauðu which sem resemble resemblelíkist mandarin (a fruit similar to an orange)mandarínu in colourá litinn. In addition, the flavor is much stronger and fuller than traditional eggs. the tasteBragðið is in addition auk þess way more mun stronger sterkara and og fullerfyllra than (comparison)en of af traditional hefðbundnu egg eggi. When the Icelandic Chicken is at it's maximum egg-laying capacity, it lays one egg a day. whenÞegar the Icelandic Chickenlandnámshænan iser at it's maximum egg-laying capacityí fullu varpi outputs skilar she hún outputsfrá sér egg eggi per dayá dag, eleven months of the year. eleven ellefu months mánuði of the year ársins. It uses up a single month of the year to change out its feathers. oneEinn monthmánuð uses notar shehún in order totil þess to change, to switch outað skipta um feathers feathersfiður. They usually start laying eggs when they are 5-6 months old and lay very well until they reach three years of age, then their egg-laying rate starts slowing down. theyÞær startbyrja usually usuallyyfirleitt to lay eggs að verpa about um 5-6 monthsmánaða old gamlar and og lay eggs verpa gleamingly ljómandi well vel untilþar til they þær have becomeeru orðnar three þriggja yearsára buten then þá starts slowing downfer a little bit aðeins starts slowing down að hægja á. Nobody of them is over four years old, so most of them climb up to their compartments and lay their eggs. nobodyEngin herehér is er oldereldri than en fourfjögurra years ára sosvo theyþær climb klifra most of themflestar up intoupp í the compartments hólfin daily daglega and og lay eggs verpa.“

It's fun to keep observe which of the compartments are the most popular with them. funSkemmtilegt iser to observe að fylgjast með (it) því whichhvaða compartmentshólf are eru the most popularvinsælust with, by hjá them þeim. Sometimes 15 eggs accumulate in one compartment, while the next one over remains completely empty, it's quite remarkable. sometimesStundum accumulatesafnast fyrir 15 eggsegg in í oneeinu compartment hólfi while á meðan the comparment hólfið by the side við hliðina á remains stendur empty autt, quite, completely alveg remarkable merkilegt.“

At Þykkvabær the birds get organic feed, but Julius says they are omnivores. onÁ Þykkvabæ get the birds fuglarnir organic lífrænt animal feed fóður but en Júlíus sayssegir they þær arevera omnivoresalætur. They go so far to eat each other. they Þær go so farganga svo langt to eat að borða each other hver aðra. If one of them dies during the night, its intestines will be dragged out and eaten by the others. ifEf oneein dies diesferst during the night um nóttina then þá areeru the intestines innyflin dragged toguð out of úr herhenni andog eaten étin. It's not a beautiful sight in the morning. itÞað iser not ekki beautifulfalleg sightsjón (filler word) svona in the mornings á morgnana. It can be said that the chickens are living recycling facilities, but it's possible to give them all leftovers from the home: potatoes, vegetables, and fruits. it can be saidÞað má segja that the chickensthe chickenshænsnin are séu livinglifandi recycling facilitiesendurvinnslur buten it is possible hægt er to give að gefa them þeim all alla leftoversafganga fromfrá the home heimilinu; potatoes kartöflur, vegetables grænmeti and og fruitsávexti. Then their bird excrement is the best fertilizer, it can be sold for a fortune. the bird excrementthe bird excrementDritið their þeirra are er thensíðan the hinn bestbesti fertilizeráburður which sem is sold, can be sold selst for a fortunefor a fortunedýrum dómum .“ Julius claims to be careful to give them fish-liver-oil and vitamins during the vinters. during the wintersÁ veturna says segist Júlíus be careful gæta þess to giveað gefa themþeim fish liver oil fish liver oillýsi and og vitamins vítamín. These chickens are hardcore and go outside in any type of weather. these [chickens]Þessar areeru tough beasts tough beasts hörkutól and og gotfara outút in í whichever hvaða weather veðri which sem iser. The Icelandic Chicken doens't let changes in weather or feed affect it, unlike the factory-chicken. the Icelandic Chicken Landnámshænan letslætur notekki weather veður- and og changes in animal feed fóðurbreytingar influencehafa áhrif á themselves sig unlikeólíkt the factory-chicken verksmiðjufuglinum.“

Over coffee and chocolate, we the guests agree that we lack more chickens in our lives. overYfir coffeekaffi and og chocolate súkkulaði aggree aggreesammælumst us við the guestsgestirnir thatum að weokkur need, are lacking vanti more fleiri hens, chickenshænur iní life líf oursokkar. After having visited and learned about these excellent birds, it's doesn't appear to be such a bad idea to establish a farm in your own backyard. afterEftir having visited að hafa komið í heimsókn and og be informed, learnedlearnedfræðst about um theseþessa fine, quite good ágætu birds fugla it is er not at all alls ekki sosvo absurd, ridiculous ideea absurd, ridiculous ideea fráleitt to establish a farm að stofna til bús iní the backyardbakgarðinum. Then you can rent a few chickens at Júlíus and then see how it goes. thenÞá it is possible er hægt to rentað leigja a fewnokkrar at hjá Júlíusi and og then see how it goessjá síðan til. You cannot help but to admire the farmer's passion and catch some of his fascination with the Icelandic Chicken. itÞað iser not ekki possiblehægt otherannað but, than en to admireað dást að passion ástríðu of the farmer bóndans and og become infected bysmitast af fascination hrifningu his hans oná the Icelandic Chicken landnámshænunni. Our motto here is: our mottoMóttóið okkar here hérna iser: Beautiful and healthy birds, a good and proud breeder, and not least: a happy buyer," says the farmer at the end. beautifulFallegir andog healthy heilbrigðir birds fuglar, goodgóður andog proud stoltur breeder breederræktandi and og not at least ekki síst happyhamingjusamur buyer kaupandi,“ says segir the farmerbóndinn at the endað lokum.