Is that a petrified log I spy?
Good job the photo's fuzzy!
Eons (early eighties) ago I spent five years on the NW coast of Scotland
living a self-sufficient life.
Rowan sitting sunning herself on a rock on the left hand side of the picture
Truly self sufficient...
no hand outs, living by your wits and hard graft.
Goats, hens, ducks, pet lambs given by crofters, which we reared to eat.
Being pets I didn't need a dog, I just used to stand on the top of the hill beside the house and holler. Their replying bleats filled the air as from far and wild they trotted home.
In many ways it was a good life, although the relationship didn't stand the test of
We grew vegetables, I could never get runner beans to grow there, too harsh an environment I suppose.
I milled grain in a mincer-type mill (not hugely successful!).
Made bread, oatcakes, water biscuits, drop scones,
crowdie, yogurt and semi-hard cheese.
I used to spin and knit, selling my wares to visitors in the summer.
The biggest expense of time, but well worth
the extreme effort was the peat.
The peat banks allocated to our croft were eight miles away,
north along the coast towards Drumbeg.
Parking in a passing place, we would walk a quarter of a mile along a track,
then a climb to the top of a heather covered hill.
The grassy tops have to be removed first to expose the black gold beneath.
Being the feeble female, I was the one who's job it was to throw out the cut peats.
You catch them as they fall and throw them behind you, aiming to lay them out as neatly as you can, in order that each one lays flat on the heather.
The laid out peat obviously takes up far more room than it did
slumbering in its million year bed.
The idea of throwing them behind you, is to not catch up with yourself,
if you do, you get in a bugger's muddle not having anywhere to throw.
I got so proficient that I could throw them neatly one after the other in neat rows.
It won't surprise you to know I had a waist in those days!
The picture is of me having thrown out some of the winter's supply.
A breather before the afternoon shift.
They are then left there for a week or ten days,
depending on the weather, to allow a skin to form.
Back I'd drive, with man who couldn't,
to then stack them into threes to dry more fully.
The next trip is to build a stack were they will stand,
until the big push to get them home.
This next stage I think was the hardest.
The peats were bagged up in hessian sacks, then balanced on our shoulders, carried down the hill to the track, where I used to wheelbarrow them along to the van.
Pack them in, then drive back the windy, sheer drop into in sea, single track road home.
This trip I did dozens of times to fill the store.
Fuel for free?