56th blog

  • October 18, 2017

    56th blog

    Day 23

    Peat.

    So here’s how it works………

    One day in spring (in the Hebrides that means 5 degrees and howling winds) My stepfather goes out to the moors and spends about two days with another man turfing the peats. (taking about two foot of topsoil off the moor). Then the peat was cut in huge slabs and thrown onto the heather to dry. On a dry day about two weeks later (still blowing a hoolie) me, my mother and sometimes my sister pack enough sandwiches and biscuits for a month and get on the trailer while Donald drove us out to the moor on the tractor. The “road”is a well worn track with massive holes in it which is quite fun flying about the empty trailer. Every year (yes we did this for years!) the tractor got bogged down in the wet moor (ah springtime ) and had to be dug out. After a lot of swearing in gaelic (it was years before I realised this ) we were on our way to the peat bog. Our job was to pick up the wet peats and turn them over. The first hour was okey but after that it got very monotonous and tiring. Definitely time for tea. A fire was built and the tea brewed in an old kettle it was just like something out of Brigadoon. Back to work, we were shocked to discover that there were three peat bogs going right up the hill !

    So, after about two months and another day out on the moor getting eaten alive by midges the day arrived for,”bringing the peats home”. A strange phrase I thought, like they were welcome, they were not, it was a harrowing home coming let me tell you. Theres like a tonne of dry peat lying in heaps on the moor waiting to be thrown onto a trailer, thrown off the trailer again and then carefully made into a peat stack at the house. It’s a gruelling experience and I hated it. The only time I was interested in doing the peats  was when the family with three boys were “taking their peats home ” too !

    When the peat was finally, “at home”, ( why do people talk about peat with fondness ?) It was often my job to,”get the peat in”, these phrases are ingrained in me as I loathed them. Picture this, howling wind, sideways rain and no peat in the bucket. Coat on, wellies on, torch in hand and a bucket to go out in the pitch dark and get fuel for the fire! Mad , Mad I tell you!

    I’ve gone on longer than I meant to today but it was the bane of my life!! The picture below is me looking suitably stunning at “the peats “!lesley peats