But how do they cut the grass?

Modrudalur, Iceland

In case you are wondering what those green humps are at the front of this picture, they are covering a little building where you can get petrol. Yes, this is a turfed petrol station! Don’t you love how it just blends into the landscape?  Here’s a picture of that station from the front:

Turfing isn’t unique to Iceland but I am guessing that this might be one of a kind.

When I was little, I loved the time in the Little House on the Prairie books when they moved into a sod house. It sounded like so much fun, but really must have been very dark and oppressive particularly in winter.

Side view of turfing

Therefore it surprised me that I found the folk museum at Glumbær a little dull. I’m willing to give it another try on our next visit, but I think we spent a little too long there and you could go around it quite quickly.

Glumbær buildings

A happy dog at Glaumbær

The museum does show you a way of life that is long gone in Iceland and makes you realise what hard lives these people had living in buildings like this. Can you imagine life in a turf house?

The museum does show you a way of life that is long gone in Iceland and makes you realise what hard lives these people had living in buildings like this.


27 thoughts on “But how do they cut the grass?

  1. I think they use sheep to keep the grass short 🙂 These houses are so cute, but you’re right, I doubt I’d want to live in one for long, so small and cramped as well as dark and no mod cons… but it would be cool to stay in one for a weekend.

    • Yes! A holiday home. I feel the same about an olde worlde cottage we stayed in last year. Lovely and thatched but FREEZING and dark, even in June. It was fun for a week but I think it would be a shock to live in one when used to modern houses.

  2. i’ve seen a lot of this in photos of Scandinavian locations, mainly Iceland and Faroes Islands. Is there any reason behind doing it other than aesthetics/blending with the land do you know?

    • I believe it was a combination of cost (very cheap to make compared to building from scratch) and relatively warm, although also damp/dark. They must keep you pretty sheltered from wind. It’s an interesting concept! I have seen that there are places like Coober Pedy in Australia where they have some underground houses for kind of the opposite reason, to stay out of the heat. I think that in the American Midwest some people of Scandinavian descent kept up this tradition – hence why Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family inherited one from a Swedish man who was moving on.

      • Weird, but I have thought about living in that type of structure before, green living. I am just not sure about the lighting and not sure that skylights, or something similar would be enough. Have you ever thought about it? Oh, plus the money to build. 🙂

      • I’d probably hate it. My house is old, not old like England old, in fact it is a mere infant, about 60 years old, but the lighting drives me crazy. My living room is one huge room with three windows, one of them a “bay” type window and I still think it is dark. 🙂 I like LIGHT! 🙂

  3. I saw the “Disel” sign on the gas station, do the majority of the cars in Iceland run on Diesel? That would surprise me considering how Diesel gels in cold weather. I know in the upper midwest of the United States and in Alaska people have plug-in engine heaters to keep the block warm during the night. Do they use those in Iceland?

    • Good question, I don’t think majority of cars run on diesel. They have a lot of automatic cars unlike most places in Europe and I’m not sure why as I would think having gears gives you more control when driving in slippery conditions. I’m not sure about the engine heaters. For the most part, Iceland doesn’t get anywhere near as cold as Alaska or the northern US, despite all the snow this year! I love that so many people drive 4x4s though.

      • We are very lucky with our weather in England, despite the fact that people complain about it all the time. They are really complaining about how uneventful it is even if they don’t know it, because we very rarely are disrupted by cold, hurricanes or any other disasters that people in most other places have to put up with. Anyway, I’ve never seen plug in heaters here but I can see how they would be a good idea.

    • Wow, now Greenland really would be something. I like the idea of Greenland but think the reality of seeing the people’s lives there could be a little depressing. You can do day trips there from Iceland but it is very expensive and touristy in a sad way from what I have heard. Would be fun to go with someone who had work there or knew people and could take you around.

  4. I was brought up in one of these houses… 😉 naaa, im not that old 🙂 interesting post. I personally love seeing these houses when i go home. It feels like ” im at home” when i see them 🙂

    • I challenge you to create your own when you go back. I will come and pay you an admission fee and you can give me a bookmark – strangely, I have found a bookmark from this place recently which I am now using! You could also sell kakasuppe. I will be your business partner. 🙂

      • Not a bad idea actually.. 😉
        I love Iceland, but the best way to put me under ground, is to make me moove over there again, so i dont think this plan will work out. 🙂
        But kakósúpa.. uummmm.. I could use one now

  5. Funny, today I have some photos of Mödrudalur on my blog post. This gas station is really funny. You sse, I find Glaumbær really awesome and wonderful. 😉 It was great to see that turf houses inside and how the match to the landscape.

    • I saw! How funny. When we went to Glaumbær this year it was a day or two before the season opened and lots of people were there wanting to go in but no on to let them in! It seemed a bit silly really. So we just walked around the outside and left.

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