Lessons in Manliness from Kári Gautason

My grandfather, Halldór Björnsson, was born on the 5th of April 1930. He was born in a turf house, the eldest of six siblings. He born to Björn Metúsalemsson and Ólafía Einarsdóttir who were well to do sheep farmers. Their homestead, Svínabakkar had been in the family for three generations at the time when my grandfather entered this world. Their turf cottage was only few dozen square feet. Once when I asked him how it was to live there he told me it was good, although his douvet froze to the wall during the winter.

Grandfather was raised during the recession and had to learn from an early age to take responsibility and step up. A good example of that when he was 14 years of age his father went blind. From that point on he was the man of the house, he took care of the sheep, his smaller siblings and his blind father.
My grandfather never told me this, I heard this from my dad after grandfather had passed away. It was then that I realized what being a man is all about. It's about taking care of your own and not brag about it. Just do what you have to do.


He left for farmer collage in the fall of 1948 and graduated two years later, he then bought a part of his family land from his mother. He had found a wife and they together with the help of his brothers they built the family homestead. He started out small, a few cows and a flock of
sheep. Every year he did a little bit better, he made small improvements. Small steps on the way to his goal.
Today the farm is one of the most productive in the whole country.

In the coming decades of his life his farm was expanded and when he passed away in the winter of 2003 the unplowed swathes of land that he had bought when he was in his early twenties were bountiful paddocks. He had raised five children, sent them to collage and they had had grandchildren. He had outlived his wife who had passed away four years earlier.

He tought me a lesson about hard work, when I think I am having a hard time a think to my grandfather. Who had raised two girls with brittle bones syndrome (his wife also had brittle bones). Who had toiled through the difficult years when he was building his farm. His big, thick hands bore marks of being well used.
He tought me the most valuable lesson of all, to persevere when the future looks bleak. As he did the spring of '79 when pack ice made the short growing season in Iceland even shorter.

He passed away in the most graceful manner, he went home from the stable, one night, because he was feeling tired. At that venerable age, seventy three, he still worked on the farm. He took a nap which he did not wake up from. He had a heart attack in his sleep.

My grandfather is an inspiration to me to this day.

The picture above is of me and my grandfather in the summer of 2003. His last summer, he worked throughout the summer on the farm.

My grandfathers house and outhouse. The first houses built on this plot of land back in 1956. They were mostly built by my grandfather and my grandmother

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