A day at the bog

bog blog

No cup of tea ever compares with the tea you have on the bog. Maybe it’s the hard work, maybe it’s the wind in your face and the sun on your back, but there is no doubt that the tea from a blackened kettle boiled in a hollow by the side of the turf rows is the nicest tea you could ever drink.

Cutting, footing, ‘haping’, bagging and hauling turf home for the winter is a long and complicated job of work. If you were to explain each step of the process to a visiting tourist, detailing the precarious nature of the weather and the back breaking toil involved, they would refer you quickly to a time and motion expert. No doubt they would be informing you that this traditional method is not a cost effective way of gathering fuel for winter.

The intense labour involved and the work of footing, turning and bagging, which cannot be done by machines would cause many a raised eyebrow. Indeed, there have been years when the sodden turf lay half saved on the bog, with the ground too soft and flooded to get transport in and the turf itself too wet to bring home when you might be tempted to agree with this thinking. But then, this is the opinion of someone who never heard the curlew or the lark calling out over the wild heather. This is the thinking of a city dweller, who has never experienced the waving tufts of bog cotton and the warm breeze on a summer’s day. A day when hard work and gentle banter combined to tackle that long stretch of bog into satisfied rows of footed turf pyramids, drying in the wind.

There is much talk these days of ‘mindfulness’ and the sense of calmness and the ease which comes from focusing on simple tasks. The art of Mindfulness is available in online and offline paying courses that boast of creating balance and increased health benefits in your life. Anyone who has spent a day in the solitude and beauty of the Irish countryside while saving the turf has no need of such programmes.

The bog is its own world. Cutting down into pieces of ground steeped in the history of centuries. Gathering bog oak to the side to polish later and adorn the garden. Noticing the footprint of shy foxes in the newly dug trenches. Listening to the birds, the insects and the wind as you bend over the repetitious task. Moving along the lines of cut turf, alone in your thoughts and in nature is a profitable meditation in itself. The satisfaction of a shed full of winter fuel is a nice bonus too.

Traditionally families went to the bog together sharing the workload. Children losing interest quickly and finding bog holes, sticks and stones to amuse themselves. The kettle and the ‘hang’ sandwiches eaten with the ‘clean dirt’ of the bog and the flies buzzing. The trip home with the bagged, saved turf was a huge accomplishment for any household. Finally, with the brown gold stacked up in the shed, the winter could do its worst.

We Irish have been bringing home the turf for centuries and with the greatest respect for the preservation of the raised bogs and blanket bogs and all the EU rulings on these, we will be bringing home the turf for years to come. It’s our way of life, our tradition and part of our culture and it may even be our own form of mindfulness too. Tog E go Bog E.

Author: Agridirect.ie

Agridirect.ie is based in Ballyconnell Co Cavan.The company was established in 1991 and is a family run business serving the Agri needs and requirements in the west Cavan area.Agridirect aim is to provide our offering of Agri products at a competitive price anywhere in the country- giving you the convenience of buying from your home.