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Old 12-05-2009, 09:46 AM
Location: Androscoggin
45 posts, read 95,313 times
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Saw in another thread Forest Beekeeper mentioned heating with peat. Anybody know anything about heating with peat in Maine?
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Old 12-05-2009, 10:01 AM
Location: Limestone
474 posts, read 825,206 times
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I've heard of it over in Europe but not here in the states.
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Old 12-05-2009, 10:34 AM
Location: In exile
534 posts, read 674,854 times
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Get Your Heat From Peat : TreeHugger
http://www.treehugger.com/peat%20cutters.jpg (broken link)

Your Heat From Peat by Bonnie Alter, London on 05. 8.08 Food & Health (botanical) Buzz up! The rising price of gas is leading to all kinds of changes: bicycles instead of cars, camels instead of tractors and now peat to burn as central heating. In the Outer Hebrides, Scotland they are reviving the ancient tradition of cutting peat to fire their stoves. More people are starting to cut their own and are re-installing their formerly bricked up peat-burning stoves. As a result, orders for the tools used for cutting peat have risen; 40 cutters have been sold this year as opposed to 6 last year. A blacksmith whose father started making the cutters in 1920 said ""This year they've really snowballed, I reckon it's the price of fuel. With prices going up, I was thinking, oh well, they may be wanting peat irons this year; then it turned out true enough. People were saying to me, 'I'll cut peat this year to help out'." The cutting of peat on the May holiday weekend was once a central activity, as whole families would join together to cut it and stack it and dry it for use as fuel during the winter months. Then electricity came to Scotland's remote outposts and people threw away their peat cutters and turned up the heat. There are environmental issues; now many peatlands are protected because of the endangered species living in the fields and many of the areas are already depleted. But with the price of gas doubled, it is expected that hundreds of people will take to the hills this week to do it, the way generations of villagers did in the past. :: Guardian

Sweet suffering jellulah, what is this article ? Happy villagers sitting on their turf/peat. As someone who spent his childhood cutting turf in Ireland, let me give you some news: Peat is one of the dirtiest fuels known to man. Basically its, bad coal, really bad coal. We have some ridiculous peat-powered electricity stations here in Ireland ( one of results of our own version of pork-politics ) and the stats are over 1000gCO2e/kWH, thats way worse than gas, worse than oil, even worse than coal. This is a disaster story not a "Oh look at those happy scots reviving their traditions" story. Have a look at this article for a more balance discussion. You cut off the heather topping to get to the peat leaving a bare surface which then leads to the same effect as permafrost melting in the tundra regions, i.e. even more emissions. / Colm
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Old 12-05-2009, 01:07 PM
Location: Northern Maine
9,538 posts, read 14,369,795 times
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I have to agree with the picture post above. It takes a huge amount of energy to dry peat and to keep it dry. You see, peat absorbs moisture right out of the air. Once you invest the time or energy to dry it. The peat will rewet right from the air.
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Old 12-05-2009, 08:36 PM
Location: Forests of Maine
29,787 posts, read 47,696,906 times
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We heated our house in Scotland by burning peat and coal in the fireplaces. Peat smolders and coal glows, the two complement each other nicely.

We have used peat here in Maine. There are many peat bogs and fens in Maine. Peat is a readily available natural resource. It is 'sustainable' and mostly un-tapped.

When mined [harvested] it re-grows and can be re-harvested every eight years on average.

I am not burning peat right now. We already have an over-abundance of other fuels.

I do have some sphagnum moss growing on my land, I have been spreading it around a bit, transplanting it. In the hope that I can get more to grow; to provide us with more that can be harvested. If you handle sphagnum moss be aware that it has a symbiotic fungus that will infect you and become a chronic systemic fungal infection, so if you handle it, you need to be on an anti-fungal regiment.

The did not harvest any this year. The ground was really wet this summer, we had a very short dry season. During our dry spell I focused on working in our fruit/herb orchard, rather than on harvesting peat.

Besides I was given a lot of woodchips this summer, I got about 3 tons stored in drums to keep them dry, and a greenhouse filled with them, and we still have a massive pile in our driveway under a tarp. So for this winter we have lots of heating fuel, there was no reason for me to go out and harvest any peat.

Peat also works really well in composting toilets.
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