Peat, Bogs, Bog Butter, and Bog Bodies

I sent you a sample of peat to burn so you could smell it.  20% of the homes in Ireland are still using Peat for fuel.  This is a much lower percentage than in the past due to availability of other forms of fuel/ energy. I am excited to share with you some of the interesting things I learned about Peat and Bogs. I have several Youtube videos for you to watch and hope you can. For those who can’t, I will give a brief synopsis.

A bog is one of four types of wetlands. It is produced by the gradual accumulation of plant material in a wet area without moving water. The decaying plant material produces acidic water which is low in nutrients and oxygen. The decay is called a carbon sink, the plants pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The accumulating plants decay very slowly due, in part, to the lack of insects and bacteria that can’t survive in the acidic surroundings. Bogs take a long time to form growing at only 1 mm a year (1 mm is about the width of the point of pencil lead)

Cutting Peat occurs in the spring. If you heard people talking of an upcoming cutting you would hear many unfamiliar terms for tools and methods. Peat spade, “wing or sail” of the spade, spanking, breasting, nicking the back, dabbing, cutter, lifter and wheeler are all interesting terms heard in this video.

The Bogs were cooler and didn’t have bacteria.  In the old days they didn’t have refrigeration so people had to find creative ways to preserve their foods. They used the bogs for storage of some perishables like butter.  It is rare fortune to find Bog Butter while cutting peat.  This video shows a recent find of Bog Butter that is over 2,000 years old.

Bog Bodies are just what it sounds like.  If plants decay very slowly you know that animals do too.  On occasion a body will be found in the bogs and the preservation is astounding.  The oldest body found was around 4,000 years old.  The science (hint, Elias, this is for you) behind the preservation is included in this very interesting video.  I especially was amazed by what happens to the bones…..

The harvesting of peat has become a legal battle in Ireland as some wish to preserve the environment and stability of the ecosystem.  The twenty percent of the population that depend upon the use of the peat for heat are fighting the restrictions as they look to use their lands as they wish, continuing a long standing tradition.

Now light your peat and appreciate all the time it took to form.  Be amazed at the wonderful world we live in. So much to learn….so much to discover.

Author: terrisloanclark

I am Nanna to my Grandchildren, mom, wife, sister, daugher, physical therapist and friend.

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