Vaginal AI Trip to Iceland
November of 2003 was an eventful month.  Twelve Isbona members, representing nine
North American farms traveled to Iceland at the invitation of the Southram semen facility
to be taught how to evaluate our sheep using the Icelandic methods and criteria, and to
learn a vaginal method of AI so we could AI our sheep ourselves.  Our teacher was the
research scientist and veterinarian Dr. Thorsteinn Olafsson, who had just completed
experiments in Norway on several aspects of this new AI method.  Seven Isbona
members (me being one) were originally scheduled to travel to Iceland for AI training in
2002, but before we left, the Agricultural Advisor of SouthAgri (the parent corporation
which the Southram semen facility belongs to), called us to ask us to wait until 2003 for
the training, because Dr. Olafsson had just been invited to participate in the Norwegian
experiments.  The Ag. Advisor (Gudmundur Johannesson) and Dr. Olafsson agreed that
we should wait for training until it was known whether these experiments would be
successful.  If they were, then we would be trained in this
new method.  If not successful,
then we would be trained in the "tried-and-true" method.  Months went by with no
indication as to whether the experiments yeilded sufficiently positive results, then
suddenly "the seven" received an e-mail inviting us to come to Iceland, the testing had
gone well.  We scrambled to attract other farms to participate in order to keep our
expenses to a minimum, and nine farms all together (twelve people)  boarded the planes
from various points in North America Nov. 17 2003, and the first six of us arrived in
Iceland at 6:40 A.M. in total darkness.  And the darkness
continued!  On and on it
lasted, until at about 9AM we could see the tiniest blush of redness in the clouds. By 10
AM there was a reasonable amount of light, although it was greatly diminished by the
solidly overcast skies. Sleet and snow pellets fell occasionally, but it seemed to me
anyway, that I was somewhat overdressed.  I had dressed for conditions in extreme
Northern Maine, which I was to find is considerably more fierce and unforgiving than the
lowlands in the southwestern part of Iceland.  However, traveling from Reykjavik to
Selfoss where the seminar was to be held, we had to cross some mountains under adverse
conditions.   High winds, driving snow, and icey conditions made the driving treacherous.  
Cold arctic temperatures in the highlands  are constantly fighting against the more
moderate conditions found in the lowlands, which experience winter conditions about like
a New York City winter.  Even in the higher elevations though, as we traveled along, we
could see mountainsides with as many as a dozen or more geysers, all erupting at the
same time.  There is so much geothermal heat available that some sources are capped,
and the heat piped to greenhouses which grow tomatos, watermelons, green beans,
carrots, etc., etc. all year long.  Other hot geysers are used to generate cheap electricity.  
Power and heat are so plentiful, that the houses and buildings are kept at a much higher
temperature than in the U.S., and there is always a window wide open for ventilation.  
Why not!  The air is almost completely pollution free!
  The people of Iceland are the most literate in Europe, and highly industrious-many work
two jobs to maintain a high standard of living and to pay the 40% tax rate.  There are
construction projects going on
everywhere, and the population is rapidly growing.  About
3/4 of the entire national population of 300,000 people live in the city of Reykjavik,
attracted by the University, the cultural centers, the medical care, and the easy access to
   A gallon of gasoline is about $4.50, and almost all the cars are Japanese and German 4
wheel drive SUV's like the Rav 4.  American cars are simply not to be found, except
because of the recent devaluation of the dollar, a few of the farms have bought Jeep 4wd
vehicles with larger engines good for towing, but at 6,200,000 Kronur, there aren't many
those being bought!
   The scenery was breathtaking at every turn.  We were graced with uncharacteristically
weather, and could see for miles.  Notice the long shadows in the landscape picture
below.  The time was about 12 noon.  Dawn & twilight last forever in November, with a
short 3 hours of full
daylight in between.  In December, in
southern Iceland,  the sun just barely peeks over
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