How to look at dirt differently

I couldn't resist.

I'm up here in Maine, right, well far from anywhere really if you ask me. Click here if you want to see exactly where I am.

Today James and I went out on an adventure. We set off on this same adventure yesterday but I am so glad that we got, ahem, lost. Granted we ended up checking out some cool blueberry barons (Cherryfield is apparently the blueberry capital of the country) but we had intended to see the peat bogs. So yes, technically we got lost yesterday.

But today. Oh my goodness. It was unreal. I had no idea what to expect and even if I did, what we saw and discovered just about knocked the fedora off my head.

Let me back up a second. James, mi amor, had told me about these peat bogs. He had been going on and on about how he wanted to check them out and show them to me. I nodded my head  in agreement in the car ride up to Maine 'cuz it seemed like a cool idea. I mean, I didn't know anything about peat (other than it's a moss.... Right?) That alone seemed like a good idea to investigate the situation.

Big fields of moss. Okay. I dig it.

So we roll up today with better directions and what do we discover. Well first off, on the way in, we saw an old biomass power plant which clearly hadn't been online in ages (turns out if it doesn't go online by December, it never will again as it's been grandfathered in.) And then I saw acres and acres of, well, honestly it looked like dirt. It was a bit anticlimatic.

Actually, totally anticlimatic for sure. We stopped at the office per the sign and a woman appeared at the top of the stairs. We were soooo clearly not from here. After exchanging greetings and telling her our deal (off on an adventure because James' dad + step mom live nearby and we were looking for something to do), she walked down the stairs to keep chatting with us.

Jen, turned out to be the world's friendliest person around. Who knew?

We started peppering her with questions. Oh wait, maybe that was me. Anywho, she was great about answering them all and telling us more than I could ever imagine knowing about peat.

Just to get us on the same page, peat yes is a moss. And yes, it's what's used in gardening, mostly mixed into soil mixes and sold in nurseries.

Here's just a bit of what we learned:

  • The peat bog in the photos is totally naturally occurring.
  • It's tens of thousands of years old.
  • Fossils are found in peat
  • It's about 45 feet deep
  • Worcester Peat, the company who owns this bog, harvests about 1/2 an inch a year
  • This company has been open since the 1930's
  • The bog eats machinery, trucks and animals. It's like one honeypot or sinkhole

  • It's quite flammable. Two previous peat operations in the same spot have burnt down as a result of catching on fire. Jen once drove a car home and when she pulled into her driveway, her car was on fire
  • It's the largest peat bog in North America at around 860 acres of peat
  • Others exist in Latvia, Ireland, Germany and Russia
  • Canadian peat is a drier peat which requires a wetting agent to be used in soil
  • The peat used to be harvested with huge vaccuums, but those machines were too heavy for the peat
  • This company sells most of their peat to Scotts who buys about a couple hundred thousands yards of peat/year. In other words, A LOT
  • It's a short harvest season, about 20 days or so
  • Peat floats when placed on water
  • This year, they could have harvested it in April because it was perfect conditions, but they weren't ready and now the peat is too wet to harvest

Who knew?!?!? Peat. I underestimated you.

It was super fun to walk out on what looked to be the pile of dirt. As soon as you started walking on it, it was obvious it wasn't just dirt. We bounced walking on it and could easily feel the vibrations of the tractors on it. Jumping up and down on it was also super fun. (I can only imagine it would be a great place to run, aside from the fact that if you step in the wrong place, you would be a goner.)

Jen told us that their building shakes when certain heavy machinery is on it. Or when four of the tractors come back at the same time. Turns out their building is also sinking into the bog. Technically their building was built on the bog with lots of fill getting dumped in.

So glad we got lost yesterday. Then we would have missed out on the tour.

And for peat's sake, that wouldn't have been good....(totally couldn't resist.)

Now I ask you this, what adventures have you found on your vacation?


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