Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Peat: between eight and 10 liftings by a human between hill and hearth

It takes eight physical human liftings for a single peat to leave the ground and reach fire or stove. That's not carbon burning there; it's human energy. It's time.

Casting, raising, turning, bagging, lifting bag to the roadside, lifting bag onto trailer/pickup truck/pony/passing human, lifting bag off the aforementioned following the trip home, and finally lifting said sod into the house and placing it on the flame. It could be nine or ten, actually. Some insist on turning the peats twice on the hill (part of the drying process) and others will bring the peats inside in a kishie or bucket, to rest by the fire until needed. It's complex.

We're crap at peats. We actually pay to have the banks cut, but then we do all the other stuff. The house is heated by oil, but there's a solid fuel stove in the kitchen (which is where I live and breathe and have my being, basically) and lighting it in winter reduces the oil bill dramatically. So there's an incentive to sort out our peat situation. Alas, peat turning, raising, bagging etc is unpleasant in the extreme. In fact, casting - the bit we pay someone else to do - is the only enjoyable part, in my opinion. With so much else to do, peats get left. Until far too late in the year.

And so it was that today, as dusk fell, I was dragging bags to the roadside for collection sometime this week, if I can borrow a trailer or a van. It's sore work. It's dirty. I can think of a million things I'd be better doing. In fact, this is supposed to be a holiday. I'd be far better off broadcasting, getting paid and paying someone else to get the peats home.

Or buying a wind generator and some storage heaters.


Ecossaise said...

Hi Tom
Thought the picture showed a deid Highland coo until I examined it a bit more closely!
I so sympathise with the fuel gathering having spent the lunch hour I allow myself (self employed working from home) cutting kindling, sawing & splitting logs, all for the wood burner which eats everything & quickly. The winter for me is all about finding enough wood to feed it without spending too much on loads of logs, & its very time consuming as you know. One or 2 acquaintances do remark "aye. you're twice warmed, once when you're cutting it, the other when you're sitting by it," HRMPH say I.
Missing your show, Ms Brambles is ok but I don't feel the need to stop and listen her wordy bits as much as I do with you! Enjoyed the posts from France.Looking forward to Monday afternoon at 2pm.

Anonymous said...

No TM, no comment

Today’s DIY necessitated a 20 mile last minute dash to the big city. The town does have a small DIY shop but due to high prices only attracts customers who are desperate or have first done the math, ‘will it still be cheaper to spend £5 on petrol or buy this here’.

Ma journey coincided with the TM afternoon Radio Scotland slot; I decide that I should give Ms Bramble another chance. An earlier ‘google’ led me to believe that she sometimes presented her show standing up to give it a ‘live’ feel; I think she must have been sitting down this afternoon. I confess that I didn’t hear all the show due to DIY shopping, but in the portions I did hear there seemed to be no mention of Scotland and none about the weather, now how can these two very important subjects be missed? Perhaps she is broadcasting from a deep bunker, or is maybe not based in Scotland at all?

The DIY shopping therapy trip had been prompted by an email from a pal saying that a severe weather warning had been issued for the next two days – heavy rain.
Post the last severe weather I had promised to cut a piece of wood that would sit in slots across our front gate as a sort of dam. Rainfall is getting worse in Scotland and the water lapped at our front step during the last deluge.

Alone in a DIY shop with no one waiting outside in the car is fatal. A lengthy shop ensued with lots of ‘that could be useful’ items put in the large man size trolley. Many of these purchases will be placed in ma shed where I will forget all about them and buy them again at some point in the future!

On the radio Jackie as she likes to be known now offered her idea of entertainment on ma way home, I was not amused and didn’t feel very entertained. Perhaps Tom could put together a ‘best of Tom Morton’ for future holidays?

Back home I tried out ma shopping treat, a pair of extra strong kneepads. To date I have poo pooed such items and have made do with a gardening pad that came free with a magazine, but ma knees are getting very old. The new knee pads are quite splendid but fall to ma ankles when walking any distance making me look like an American football player, I’ll need to tighten them.

So the new dam is now in place, the drains have been cleared of autumn debris, and that loose piece of fencing (That I was going to replace) has been shored up with some stout 4 x 4.
All this should guarantee a fine period of weather but at least I don’t have sore knees

Overcast and threatening rain, Nairn