Craft:Peat cutting

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Peat is heavy material formed in damp climates from layer upon layer of dead plants. The weight of layer upon layer compresses the plants into peat. Peat is cut in summer, so that the wet peat can dry out and become light enough to be transported. Peat is cut from an existing pit, a cutter cuts a strip 6-12 inches wide and as deep as they can comfortably reach. As the cutter cuts they clear space to cut down into another layer and so a tiered structure is created. Strips of peat are then loosely stacked to let them dry and, when dry, hauled back to the village for use as fuel over winter.
Peat has been cut since the human tribes first came to Cerilia, indeed the Karamhul claim that goblins were cutting peat long before then. The result is that vast swathes of former peat lands have been cleared leaving lakes, broads (shallow wide slow flowing rivers) and such like in their wake.
Rights to cut peat ? tubary rights ? are granted by local landholders and are sought after by the peasant families, particularly in areas where wood for burning is rare. Often the entire village will descend on the peat bed for a period of a few weeks to communally harvest the peat and the whole occasion tends to have a festive air. In some areas the peasantry owes the lord a week, or even two weeks labour in peat cutting, the peat harvested for the lord is generally then sold to enrich the manor, in other areas the lord may charge a daily fee for the right to cut peat.
The best areas to harvest are raised beds of peat, as the low-lying still boggy areas are prone to flooding which makes harvesting the peat more difficult and increases the drying time needed for the peat. Where a peat bed becomes worked out it often fills with water to create rivers, lakes and the like, often significantly increasing the risk of flooding further down river, for peat acts like a sponge gathering water during heavy rain and slowly releasing it over time.

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