The glacier-scoured island of Inishmaan was covered in barren rocks when it was first settled in pre-history. The stones were used to fill in the cracks and divide the land with un-mortared walls. The soil was created by bringing sand and seaweed up from the beach. The Irish started planting potatoes here in the early 18th Century, as they produce the highest calorie density on these thin soils.
Today the population is much lower than in ancient times, with only 150 full-timers. But the locals still farm the land the same way, except that now the seaweed is brought up from the beach by tractor to fertilize the fields, which are harvested for family use. They also rotate their cattle and sheep between the stone-walled pastures and ship them out a few times a year for sale and slaughter.
- ©2022 George Steinmetz
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