10:10am Sunday 20th February 2011
We finally had the white Christmas we all longed for, pretty as a picture, but was it as joyous as the one Bing Crosby used to know? Was it heck.
Festive parties fell victim to treacherous road conditions and our growing reliance on the internet for Christmas shopping backfired when deliveries gathered dust in haulage depots.
Running a farm is no joke in sub-zero temperatures either. Try telling thirsty stock they must wait patiently for frozen pipes to thaw before they are watered.
Pembrokeshire’s own ‘big freeze’ was swiftly followed by television images of floods in Australia, unprecedented levels of snowfall in America and reports of global food shortages. And the dreadful conclusion seemed to be that it was all our fault.
Delegates at climate change summits will urge us to turn our heating off, cover the countryside with windmills and eat only home-grown food.
Some people take this advice seriously, others not, but this year could be a turning point because things are now hitting us all where it hurts most – our pockets. Filling up a car is no joke and heating bills have rocketed.
There are some aspects to living in the countryside that are beneficial to reducing our energy consumption.
Our two woodburners have kept us toasty warm this winter, the central heating has barely been on. And feeding the woodburners has created an incentive to clear the farm of fallen trees. I’m sure money could be made from producing a keep-fit video based on chopping wood? An energetic swing of the axe followed by a bending of the knees to gather the logs. A brilliant opportunity for sexing up the countryside. Celebs would queue up to front it.
On the subject of energy, a press release pinged into my inbox yesterday about opportunities for farmers to earn an income from installing solar panel systems on large farm buildings and unused farmland.
The company marketing it suggested this represented a win-win situation for farmers and the environment. Farmers helping to feed solar energy also helps reduce the dependency of local electricity providers to burn fossil fuels to make electricity, thereby helping to reduce UK carbon emissions, thereby contributing to help save the environment. And farmers depend on the environment for their livelihood, don’t they?
But whether rural folk will tolerate acres of alien-looking panels in the countryside is another matter. Whether it’s wind energy, solar power or ground heat trials let’s have some proper Government-controlled trials to establish how effective these are before we industrialise the countryside.
In the meantime I’m off to chop up the Christmas tree to fuel the woodburner. What better way to work off the excesses of Christmas and declare the festive season to be well and truly over.
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