When the sun doesn't shine

When the sun doesn't shine

Farming Small Areas News
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Winter has become a very brief occasion of late at the Pride household.

See the full August edition of Smart Farmer here

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NOT A BIG FAN: The Pride wind turbine waits for bad weather.

NOT A BIG FAN: The Pride wind turbine waits for bad weather.

There's a period in the year that starts just after the leaves turn brown.

It is when the grass dies off and there is a new chill is in the air.

This period finishes when buds appear on plants and shrubs, the grass starts to come back and there's a bit of warmth in the sun.

That period, colloquially known as winter, is becoming quite brief.

This year at our place it was on a Saturday.

The sky was overcast, with heavy showers, the temperature was struggling to get above zero, and the wind chill factor was, well, a big factor.

We didn't need to consult the thermometer though.

Our bees hadn't ventured out of the hive, our resident wallaby, George, and the birds, 'roos, and goats were all tucked up somewhere.

We wussy humans had thrown a good stump on the fire and settled in.

At times like this (and wintry blasts really do seem to happen less frequently these days), there is of course no sunshine hitting the solar panels to charge the batteries.

No problems.

Given the gale coming from the south, it was a perfect time to turn on our small wind turbine.

It's a Wincharger Model No 1222H Wind Electric Battery Charger, made in Minnesota 42 years ago.

It was imported by Quirk's Victory Light Company of Bellevue Hill.

It has a "six-foot propeller", according to the manual, and "starts charging in a seven-mile breeze".

The Wincharger is mounted on the roof of the guest cabin next to the house.

At top speed - spinning about 900 rpm in the blow we had that day, which was well above a 'seven mile breeze' - it sometimes gets the shakes, which we can hear as we curl up in front of the fire.

It's low whistle and occasional shudder is oddly comforting.

That's because we generally only hear those sounds in exactly such circumstances - driving rain and a cold wind outside, with us nice and warm inside.

Lack of sun also means our solar hot water system turns into a very cold water system for a day or two, so we go to Plan B, the gas water heater.

As dear wife remarked on that Saturday, given how enthusiastic a performer our windmill is, it's a pity it can't somehow heat water.

So I think what we have here is a wind farm.

More than likely, therefore, someone will ask for an Environmental Impact Statement, and I have one ready.

It reads: "Excellent energy device, needed infrequently.

Non-polluting, non-taxpayer-funded, low-maintenance, of ongoing benefit to two people plus pets.

Harms no one, no negative impacts.

Highly recommended."

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