Helping my little brother with his erection
I have been mostly away for the past week, and mostly in North East Fife. There was inheritance stuff that needed to be done and a few other things besides, so I loaded up the Range Rover with a couple of dogs and as many boxes of comics as it would take*, hitched a trailer-full of random belongings to the back and took the whole lot to the farm.
I won't bore you with details of the long and uneventful journey, nor of the business that needed my personal attention once I was there. No, I promised you erections, and that is what you will get.
My little brother** set up his own environmental consultancy about fifteen years ago, and to everyone's surprise, least of all his own, it's still going. Lately a lot of work has been in the area of wind turbines. The UK government in its unfathomable wisdom has come up with a system called the Feed In Tariff, or FIT, which guarantees a minimum price paid for renewable energy generation - photovoltaics, wind power and hydro. This means that if you've got a bit of land in a windy spot and not too far from a power line, it would be madness not to put a windmill on it. Payback can be as little as three years, and the returns after that are far better than anything you can make with animals.
None of which is the reason my little brother decided to put one up. He just likes the whole renewable energy thing. And if you're selling windmills to landowners, it helps to be able to say you've got one of your own. So, much of this last week was spent on the process of erection.
It came largely in kit form, from Sweden. Sad but true, the British are a long way behind in wind turbine manufacture and design. The hard part was building the tower - eighteen metres high, and coming in three sections that had to be individually constructed and then bolted together like some giant meccano set. I spent a lot of Tuesday driving back and forth to Dundee in search of tools. Then on Wednesday morning a man arrived with a great big crane.
First the tower had to be raised slightly, then settled on a precarious tatty box so that there was room to fit the turbine head. This was winched into position, followed by the three blades, and then the nose cone. Finally, on Thursday morning, the whole thing was lofted into the air and dropped carefully into position on a concrete foundation. Against all predictions and expectations, the whole thing went with barely a hitch, and the tower that had been bolted together by four people with no engineering background between them fitted almost perfectly onto its base. It was actually surprisingly easy to manhandle four and a half tonnes of steel and fibreglass as it dangled from a pair of frayed straps high above.
I had to leave and drive back down to Wales before the turbine finally started to turn, but I am reliably informed that it did, and that it even produced a measurable amount of electricity. It was, however, slightly more noisy than it should have been, so someone has to go up the tower and sand down the blades, or something. Fortunately the Swedish technicians were on hand, this being the first of their products to be installed in the UK, and they seemed to know what they were doing.
So now there is a wind turbine at the farm. I have put in a planning application for three more, slightly bigger ones for myself.*** If all goes well they should add a useful income to the place and provide a handy cushion when we have the next food scare and the livestock market collapses. Even better, I know how to get an erection sorted now, and I have all the right tools.
* which is quite a few, as it turns out, but still less than half the collection. I guess I've been reading comics for a long time.
** who, I think it has been said before, is bigger than me.
*** I just hope that Mr Stuart will still talk to me if I get them erected. He's had three of the things dumped in front of his house to spoil his view.