I got myself into a right old eco-pickle the other day. After one glorious day, March had turned cold and sleety, with a lazy north-east wind finding all the holes in the house and popping in to say hello.
There was only one thing for it: another session of log cart. This gives me a great excuse to dig out my latest toy – a “green” battery-powered chainsaw.
Don’t get me wrong; I still firmly believe that the internal combustion engine is the best thing to happen to mankind, and love ‘em all, from the Buick/Rover V8 and my Deere’s yummy straight-6 right down to the 30cc Stihl 2-stroke. And who doesn’t enjoy a good Wankel?
See also: More from Charlie Flindt
But the electric chainsaw is something else. For a start, I have a very iffy shoulder hoping for a three-month break so that the surgeon can be let loose on it with his scalpels, and if there’s one thing my shoulder hates, it’s pull-starting a two stroke.
The 36V motor, though, simply purrs away with a touch of the trigger. And you can sharpen on the move, by levering a stone onto the chain as it turns.
A hugely satisfying shower of sparks is produced – something you wouldn’t want near the little tank of 1:40 mix.
True, you have to store the battery fully charged – and charging from non-fossil fuel sources can be a challenge.
Luckily there’s always the fascinating “Gridwatch” website to tell you who’s generating what.
By the time the battery was worn out, I was too, and when I plugged in the charger at 8.20pm, wind was contributing only 3.1% (1.36GW) and solar…oh, it was dark.
Less than 1/25th of the battery was “green” charged. Thank the Lord for gas, coal and nuclear, supplying 74.4%.
And then it’s easy to forget that oil is still needed, to lubricate the chain. As most farmers do,
I found a can of something that had non-black oil in it – and thought “that’ll do!” Don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t non-fossil sourced.
As for the logs themselves – they are rapidly catching up with diesel as being the fuel from the devil’s own loins.
Mine have been in cords outside for three years, and then two years under cover.
They’re dry enough to pass inspection by Mr Gove’s log police (recruited from Special Branch, I assume), unlike some of the logs you see being liberated from the woods around here by the White Settlers of Hampshire.
But for eco-campaigners, logs are just short-term fossil fuels, releasing carbon dioxide which was trapped only decades ago.
My landlord went through a stage many years ago of insisting that fallen trees were left as a valuable mini-climate for micro-organisms.
Luckily, common sense prevailed when rent reductions were suggested for lost farm area, and the revelation that rotting trees are effectively just burning very slowly.
So I’m a bit baffled. Am I being “green” by using an electric chainsaw to cut up well-seasoned wood? It’s not as clear-cut as it would seem.
Mind you, my chimney is being kept nice and clear (and, yes, we still get a sweep in every year), my shoulder is in one piece, and two rooms of the old farmhouse have crept up to something one might describe – just – as snug. The rest are still at “two duvet level”.
But, best of all, there’s the lovely feeling of sourcing fuel and heating your house without invoices, receipts or tax.
Come to think of it – perhaps we’ve stumbled on the real source for the war on logs.