Kaldakur is a sustainable farm located in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, just off I-75.  We raise registered Icelandic horses, registered Icelandic sheep, as well as purebred Icelandic chickens.  If you were looking for Twisted E Ranch, and ended up here, we changed our name.  After many years of searching for the right Icelandic word for our farm, we found “Kaldakur” which means “cold field.”  If you’ve ever visited us, you know how fitting this name was.  New logo, new name, MORE Icelandic animals!

Icelandic Sheep

Lizzie 2015
Lizzie 2015

Icelandic sheep are one of the oldest and purest breeds of sheep.  They are a triple purpose sheep, being used for meat, wool and dairy.

They are hardy and healthy, and are very feed efficient.  US flocks are OPP and foot rot free.  Many Icelandic sheep have excellent parasite resistance.

Icelandics are very prolific, twins are normal, triplets are not uncommon.  The lambs are raised on pasture alone and are slaughtered at 6 months old.  They finish out at 75-100lbs – on just grass!   The meat is gourmet quality, it is not strong tasting and fatty like other types of lamb.  The meat is delicate flavored on a lean carcass.  Many people that think they don’t like lamb change their minds after trying Icelandic lamb!

Icelandic sheep have a premium fleece.  Shearing happens twice a year, the Spring fleece being best suited for felting and the Fall fleece being suitable for spinning.  They are dual coated, the soft, insulating undercoat being called the þel (thel over in these parts!) and the strong, waterproofing outer coat being called the tog.  Both thel and tog are spun together to create the popular Icelandic Lopi yarn.  The thel is easily separated to create soft yarns suitable for next to skin wear.

The sheep come in a wide range of colors from various shades of white, moorit, mouflon, badgerface, black, gray, and spotted.

These hardy sheep thrive in our cool Northern climate, and give us many products to market.  We sell breeding stock, lamb meat, wool and wool products, pelts, horns and soaps made from sheep’s milk.   Our sheep live outdoors, on pasture and eat grass throughout the entire grazing season.  They eat local hay in the winter with the option to stay in or go out as they please.  We utilize rotational grazing to keep deworming to a minimum, and only deworm those individual ewes that need it.  We rely on good nutrition and clean pastures to keep the sheep healthy.  All of this combined creates a better life for the animal, a healthier food source for the human and a better environment for us all.  Icelandic sheep are a small farm’s dream, they give so much for so little!  icelandic_ewe_jumping

Icelandic Horses

The stallions and geldings 2014.
The stallions and geldings 2014.

The Icelandic Horse breed is over 1000 years old.  It is one of the purest breeds in the world due to it’s isolation, and Iceland’s ban on the import of horses.  Any horse that leaves Iceland, can never return.  This has kept the breed pure and relatively disease free.

Icelandics are a stocky, gaited horse standing approximately 13h tall.  Most 13+ hand Icelandic horses can carry a 225lb rider.  There are some smaller horses in the 12h range that are finer boned, for those I would recommend a rider in the 150-175lb range.  Most of our horses are able to carry a 225lb rider.

Icelandics can have either 4 gaits (walk, trot, tolt, canter) or 5 gaits (walk, trot, tolt, canter, flying pace).  The tolt is a very smooth four beat gait, designed to carry a rider over long distances comfortably.  Many Icelandics are considered “natural tolters” meaning they will choose the tolt when asked to go faster than a walk.  It is a great, comfortable gait for the trail.  When paired with larger horses, Icelandics don’t have any trouble keeping up with the larger horses.  They have a fast, ground covering walk, and the speed of the tolt can range from a regular trotting speed to a canter speed.  The flying pace is a ridden racing gait meant for short distances.  The Icelanders have pace races between two horses at shows in Iceland.  They break from a gate like a racehorse, and go either 150m or 200m.  The horse may not break the flying pace gait in the race or they are disqualified.

They are hardy, easy keepers that rarely have health issues.  They eat less than a normal horse, and do not require supplemental grain which makes them very economical.  They have great personalities, the majority being extremely smart and willing to work.

Icelandics come in most every color with the exception of appaloosa patterns.  There are duns, cream gene colors and silver dapples, with the most popular colors being chestnut and black.

Most horses are trained in the Fall of their 3rd year, and completed in their 4th year.  They are slow to mature so this ensures they have grown enough to carry a rider without damage.  They are able to be ridden well into their 20’s, making them very long lived.  My mare Lauga was born in 1989 and is still my main riding horse at age 26.

Icelandics can be ridden in most any style, as long as the saddle fits.  We have Icelandic, dressage, treeless and western saddles in our tack room.  They can be tricky to fit as some have very wide shoulders and low withers.  Be aware of saddle fit, this can affect so many aspects of your ride – on any horse for that matter!

Icelandics are lovable, once you meet one you will fall for them.  We have introduced many to the breed, and one of the most common comments is how smart and easy going they are.  Trainer’s love their personalities and desire to learn.  If you want a partner for life, you want an Icelandic!