Billy’s stack.


“ You would build your peat stack as close to the back door of the house as you could because in winter it was howlin’. I didn’t have any special way of building the stack, only makin’ sure it was sturdy and tight-packed to keep the peats as dry as possible. Some folk would build their stack in a special way- mine would be just normal but others would do fancy patterns like herring bone of the tweed. Some would be massive, an’ of course you’d get a bit of bosd (bragging) or even just a look, “My stack’s bigger than yours.” Playground stuff.
“Sometimes you’d have ‘turfs’ on the top rather than peats. What I call a ‘turf’ is some of the top layer of the moor. As well as keeping the peats underneath dry you could use them to smoor the fire at night cause they were wet and grassy and slow to burn. In our day it was tarpaulins weighted with tyres to keep the stack dry but before they’d use maybe a net staked down or stones tied on rope like they had on the thatch of the auld hooses to stop the stack taking off in the wind.
“In the middle of the stack you’d have a hollow for storing all the broken and crumbling bits of peat that couldn’t be used in building but would burn fine. Course you’d find all manner of things in the stack- creatures, birds, our chickens would often lay in there and,” here he grins slyly, ”if you wanted to hide something you shouldn’t have it’s a great place. Didn’t they spirit away some of the creatur in the peat stack in ‘Whisky Galore’? Compton McKenzie down in Barra would no doubt of had a stack though I don’t know if he would have cut the peats himself.”

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