It all begun with a solitary sentence in a website post about Iceland: “A farmer is hunting for aid at a temperature station and sheep farm.”
It was 2012, and, immediately after learning photography in the industrial German town of Dortmund, I was prepared for a change. I’d prolonged planned on browsing Iceland, and when I read about the secluded farm, every thing arrived with each other. I replied to the submit, landed the career, offered most of my points and booked my flight.
Marsibil Erlendsdottir, the farmer and climate station attendant, picked me up at the little airport in Egilsstadir, near Iceland’s easternmost edge.
The generate to the temperature station took practically two several hours — as a result of snow-lined mountain passes, along with waterfalls, earlier reindeer and vacant summer months houses. As we neared our destination, the road grew slim and rough. Finally, we arrived at the stop of an isolated fjord, where by a tiny yellow lighthouse appeared in the length.
“Welcome to the conclusion of the entire world,” Ms. Erlendsdottir explained, laughing.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office runs 71 manned climate stations all over the state, 57 of which report the precipitation, snow depth and ground address after per day. Ms. Erlendsdottir, who goes by Billa, oversees one particular of the 14 stations that also report on cloud deal with, climate situations and other meteorological phenomena.
Each and every three hours, working day and night time, no subject the temperature, Billa checks the readings on the climate devices at her station and relays them — temperatures, air stress, wind disorders, and other individuals — to the business office in Reykjavik.
Her reviews, together with individuals from the rest of the nation, are posted on the web and broadcast in excess of the radio. For farmers who count on the forecasts, the info Billa supplies can assistance dictate their day by day operate. For fishermen on the substantial seas, the facts can be the variation amongst everyday living and dying.
There has been a temperature station in this location because 1938, and it has always been operated by genuine people. (Presented the region’s harsh circumstances, automation wouldn’t be achievable, Billa states.)
The region is incredibly remote. In the coldest months of the 12 months, the farm is only obtainable by boat and, when storms hit, can be minimize off from the outside planet for days on conclude.
Billa grew up at the climate station with her brother and 5 sisters. She married one particular of the area fishermen and had a family of her personal, increasing two children — just one of whom, her son, was born on a boat on the way to the hospital.
Billa’s husband died in new several years, leaving her to operate the weather station and the farm on her possess. Billa could very easily have remaining the spot, but she decided to stay.
“It hardly ever will get tedious listed here,” she mentioned.
I to begin with labored with Billa for 10 months. Possessing developed up on a farm in Poland, I found substantially of the do the job familiar: caring for the sheep, encouraging to educate the Border collies, fixing fences, collecting hay.
Billa doesn’t delight in the spotlight. It took extra than a calendar year prior to she was comfortable more than enough for me to acquire her portrait.
In the meantime, I commenced documenting her life and work, adhering to the rhythm of her times — and of the weather reviews.
Like Billa, I get pleasure from paying time off the grid, and so I saved returning to the farm, the place there is no cellphone reception. In whole I have used close to two and a half years there.
The region becomes particularly inaccessible in the winter season months, when the daylight lasts for only a several several hours and the lighthouse’s constantly spinning beam cuts by the darkness.
For months on conclude, the farm is blanketed by snow, and sounds are muted — besides the seem of the encompassing sea. In wintertime, the crushing waves grow to be progressively wilder, the wind ever much better, the weather conditions situations considerably less predictable.
But even in the harshest snowstorm, Billa leaves her home to care for the animals and examine the instrument shelter.
Just about every year delivers its personal jobs. In spring, when the sheep give beginning, the animals need to have to be monitored 24 hrs a working day. In summertime, the hay for the wintertime months has to be collected. And throughout the autumn, the sheep are carried down from the mountains.
In addition to all the farm perform, Billa also maintains the lighthouse, which was created in 1908. Her store cabinet need to often be effectively stocked, specified that the nearest supermarket is 50 miles absent.
In the winter, it will take an hour by boat to get to the nearest shops. A mail boat arrives at the time every single two months, but only when the weather conditions permit it.
The circumstances below are immensely demanding, but living in harmony with nature presents Billa with a sense of inner peace. She simply cannot sit still and spends as a lot time as probable outdoors.
A several years ago, Billa’s daughter, Adalheidur, who goes by Heida, completed her reports in Reykjavik and moved again to the farm to accompany and assistance her mother.
“If I at any time moved absent, my mom would undoubtedly remain below on her own,” Heida explained.
“Here,” she included, “she feels cost-free.”