Hello Folks, and welcome to my blog! I guess I’ll introduce myself as this is my first blog post here on Guide to Iceland. My name is Bernhardur Gudmundsson, but people call me Benni. My farm Kirkjuból is located in the northwest corner of Iceland, namely in a region known as the Westfjords.
There are two farmhouses on Kirkjuból, and my next door neighbours are my parents. For generation my family has lived here, working either as fishermen or farmers (or bit of both). My parents raise sheep, and as such continue my family heritage of living of the land.
We are the only remaining residents in the valley as the other farms have been abandoned. It wasn’t always like that though. In Iceland like so many other places in the world, people have been migrating from the rural areas to nearby towns. Growing up here on the farm is something that I however am very grateful for. As from early on in life, you learn to respect and appreciate the coexistence of men, animals and nature.
This, I believe, is a valuable lesson in life and something that I carry close to my heart. There are many little towns here in Westfjords, or maybe it is best to call them fishing villages, as the main driver for the local economy is what the sea provides us with. Throughout my life I have worked in all kinds of jobs related to the fishing industry, whilst at the same time living on the farm.
Our livelihood depends on how nature behaves - so inevitably the weather is always on our mind. A fishermen waits for the opportunity to go out to sea and the farmer hopes for a good summer so his crops can grow.
The Westfjords are very mountainous, the coastline is heavily indented by dozens of fjords surrounded by steep hills. To cross the fjords we have to travel over the highlands. There is a certain roughness here in nature, that makes the scenery quite beautiful and unique.
However there is a flip side to everything. As the living condition here can be quite harsh during the winter time. Over the winter months, when I drive to work, I need to be on the lookout for avalanches coming down on me. This is something you learn to live with. With experience you learn to evaluate where and when danger is present. This, in part I think, builds your character “take nothing for granted in this life” - is my motto.
There are 13 farms in the area, and across the fjord from my farm is a little village called Flateyri. It's a small community, but never have I experienced the feeling of being isolated. Everyone knows everyone, no-one can disappear here, there is a sense of togetherness in the community. I actually think it is easier to get isolated if you live in the city.
About 4 years ago I decided to take up photography as a hobby. And I sure do not regret that decision. It is like you learn to appreciate nature's beauty just a little bit more when looking through the camera lens. You start to see faces in the landscape, the humanity in the animals - it truly becomes an obsession. We are all truly lucky to have an accommodation on hotel earth.