02 Oct 2022

"Winning turf" in Leitrim

Six things that happen every year in the bogs of Leitrim

"Winning turf" in Leitrim

Nothing beats a lovely hearth fire does, it? The heart of the house, where family gather to warm toes, bums and to ponder life.

But don’t forget all the hard work, sweat, midge bites and swearing that went into getting those turf dry and home. As we sit back and enjoy the smell, heat and lovely warm cosy feeling of our turf fires, lets take a minute to remember (and look forward to) the summer in the Leitrim bog.  

1. Have you cut yet?

Not your hair, not the lawn or your budget, this short question refers to the bog. Have you cut your turf yet, because neighbour A, B and C have. Yes it is just after Easter - but you have to think ahead.

If you have cut - did you get much? How many “bins” did you get. While ten bins may sound manageable, the first time to see those long rows of sausage turf you will get the fear.

2.  Aches and Pains

And you should be afraid, very afraid. Lifting, stacking and bagging turf is back breaking work. You will feel the burn in parts of your body you didn’t know existed.

Actually December is the perfect time to start building and stretching your arms, calf muscles and hamstrings in preparation for the bog. But it doesn’t matter what you do, you will feel pain after a session on the bog - think of it as the original boot camp!

3. Sun burn/ sun stroke

If you don’t get sunburned at the bog, it is like you didn’t really go to the bog. You can slather yourself in suncream (we obviously advise that you do) but you will miss a bit, or sweat it off and wake up the next morning with a painful and visually obvious reminder of your day’s hard labour.

4. Bits of bog

You can wear gloves, a hat, and tuck your socks into your wellies - but bog dust, bog bits and black bog will come home with you. You will find it under your finger nails, up your nose, in your hair and all over your body. Don’t fight it, embrace nature and see it as an exfoliation product - and shower three times a day afterwards.

5. Midges everywhere

Midges (not midgets) are the bane of any good bog man or woman’s life. You have waited until the sun goes down, and have the rest of the evening set aside for work on the bog. And then they arrive, not one or two, but  hundreds and  thousands. Do you call it a day? Do you stick it out? Either way you will be “ate.”

6. The tractor getting stuck

Tractors hate the bog much more than we do, that is why they stall, the battery won’t work, the trailer won’t hitch … and then you just know your luck, as the rain clouds threaten overhead - the tractor gets stuck.

It always happens every year, all you can do is hope it isn’t your tractor. If there are plenty of people in the bog you will be  guaranteed a bit of help (and probably a bit of craic) but saving machinery from Ireland’s sinking sand can be tricky business. Stay safe.

Every year you swear you won’t return and every year you do. Here is to Summer in Leitrim bogs!

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