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A Freezing Start

February has come in with a cold snap. As I went to bed on the first it was starting to snow and in the morning I awoke to a snow-covered land. It only lasted a couple of days but the temperatures have remained hovering around freezing.

Snow

Snow Arrives 2nd Feb

It’s not the actual temperature that’s a problem so much as the wind chill. I picked myself up a bargain wind and waterproof, fleece-lined jacket on Ebay but I might as well have a string vest when the wind blows. I think one of those North Cape jackets the BBC Wales reporters seem to wear might be the answer but I don’t earn what they do at the BBC!

Project Pig Sty

Pig Sty Improvement

New roof beams going in on the old pig sty.

Bryan the builder has been making me feel a total wimp, he’s out there re-building the walls and putting new beams across for the roof despite the weather. He’s even had to use anti-freeze in the mortar. It’s coming on well though, another couple of good days and it should be finished.

Whilst he gets on outside, in the cowshed I’ve been building a stud wall but after a couple of hours I’ve had enough, even with a fan heater taking the chill off the air and the odd mug of soup to keep me going. Tough lot, the Welsh, tougher than me!

Wood store

Wood Store – where has it all gone?

Heating in the Country

When we lived in the town we had our electricity and mains gas on a dual-fuel deal. Here we don’t have mains gas, we’ve got an LPG tank under contract to Calor. LPG is, I believe, twice as expensive as mains gas. This provides hot water, cooking and background heat from the central heating.

LPG is still cheaper than electricity by about a third but in this weather it is still costing us £6.00 a day to keep the house warm. We could burn coal on our multi-fuel heater but even that’s not exactly a cheap option nowadays. Buying in logs of seasoned wood to burn is dearer than coal.

But hang on: we’ve a load of wood left from the trees we took down and trimmed a couple of years ago. Nicely seasoned, all it needs is to be cut down to a size that fits the stove. Free fuel! Except this free fuel takes time to process.

It took two days work to fill the woodstore and that’s with a chain saw and hydraulic log splitter. Just carrying in wood enough for a day’s burning takes half an hour and a woodburner or coal fire is very different to a gas boiler. It takes cleaning out, building up and lighting each morning to get it going. Then it needs pretty constant attention and re-stocking throughout the day to keep it going. So even free fuel has it’s price if you count in your time.

On the other hand, there’s something magical about a real fire. We’re still cowering in our cave as the snow falls outside, feeding it bits of wood to keep the chill from our bones. So what that it’s a double-glazed cave with carpets and curtains? I’ll be roaming the hills with a spear hunting mammoths next!

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
2 comments on “A Freezing Start
  1. Andy Allen says:

    I used to live on a narrow boat which had a wood burner for the main source of heating. I was always told that this warmed you up twice. Once when burning the fruits of your labours and once while you were sawing and chopping the wood.

    • John Harrison says:

      @Andy Allen: That’s a very true saying. If you work out the time at minimum wage, it’s a significant cost. The LPG is running at £7.50 a day at the moment and the electricity is around £3.00. That’s despite very think loft insulation, wearing a sweater and every lightbulb is either CFL or LED.
      Roll on summer… please

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