Saturday, October 2, 2010

The fields of the west

The field systems of western Ireland are ancient. They are almost always surrounded by a stone wall that has become covered with sod over the centuries so that they look more like grassy humps than walls.

The average farm size for Ireland is between forty and fifty acres. In the west country it is unusual if a farm's total acreage is contiguous. A farmer may have a field here, one there, and still another in a different location. It is a system they have become accustomed to over the passage of time. Fields are used for the grazing of sheep and cattle. Except for silage, and little of that, there is virtually no cropland in western Ireland.

The fields, their shapes and walls, are reminders of the age of the countryside and the traditional lifestyle and culture that created them.

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