Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

Feeling Guilty on a Day Off

By Cam Mather

I took the day off on Thursday and I was racked with guilt. Okay, maybe not “racked with guilt” but I was definitely feeling kind of guilty. Our youngest daughter came home for a long weekend so we picked her up at the train station in Belleville. We then headed to “Sandbanks Provincial Park” which is an awesome place. It has a 10 mile long sandy beach, and it sits at the very eastern end of Lake Ontario on a jut of land called “Prince Edward County” which extends out into the lake. The wind whips down the lake and by the time it hits the beach it often brings huge waves that are a blast to play in.

This area would also be a prime location for large wind turbines, but well-heeled city folk who vacation in the County don’t like the looks of wind turbines and have the financial resources to fight them, so the farmers who could really use the income from wind farms renting their land are denied it. I remember being at a meeting in 2003 when we first published “The Renewable Energy Handbook”. Bill Kemp had been asked to speak and you could tell there were two groups in the audience… those “for” big wind and those against it. I spoke to a farmer who told me “I’d be making $28,000 a year in rentals if it wasn’t for these (expletive deleted) protesting against them.” Here’s the problem – people want to use electricity, but they want it to be generated somewhere “else”. They want clean air rather than coal-powered contaminated air, as long as they don’t have to look at how it’s being generated. They want an inhabitable climate for their grandchildren as long is it doesn’t mean they have to learn to live with these big beautiful wonders called wind turbines that create clean electricity from a renewable resource.

As we drove to and from Sandbanks I was in awe of the crops growing in the fields of Prince Edward County. Corn, soy beans, oats, wheat… food in other words. We spent the afternoon frolicking in the waves with the thousands of other people on the beach, most of whom are urban dwellers and trade their labor for a wage that allows them to purchase the food the farmers grow. As we headed home at 7 pm there was a crew out harvesting wheat. We had seen the combine earlier in a different field and it was monstrous. I’m assuming the combine owner goes from field to field contracting with the farmer to harvest the wheat. I’m out of touch with the cost of farm equipment, but with the size of this behemoth I’m sure it would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There was a hive of activity around the combine with many tractors and trucks and grain wagons “making hay while the sun shines.” Well they were actually making straw, which is what’s left over when you harvest wheat. The forecast for the next day was for rain so you could tell they would be working well into the night to get as much harvested as they could.

I was struck by the dichotomy of what I saw on the beach and what I saw in the field. People on the beach were desperately trying to find things to do – building sand castles, throwing Frisbees, footballs, and beach balls, and flying kites. Of course many people at the beach were content to just lay and roast in the sun and sew the seeds for their own personal melanomas in the years ahead.

Then there were farmers working feverishly to harvest food. I sensed that these farmers didn’t spend much time on the beach. I sometimes question whether or not people, like the ones playing on the beach, have enough gratitude for farmers. Now don’t get me wrong, farmers do have down time. In fact, depending on what they grow and produce some have extended periods when they can’t be growing and harvesting food. That was the nice thing about when most people were involved with agriculture, there was down time. Today many of the people on the beach might only have a week or two when they leave their jobs and relax. Livestock farmers experience that, because someone has to feed and milk and look after their animals everyday of the year.

But still, I had a tinge of guilt spending a day on the beach knowing someone wasn’t taking a day off so I could eat. I am eternally grateful to farmers.

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8 Comments

  1. Robert

    Cam you just don’t understand how terrible those wind turbines are. Just last week I read how they sucked some poor albatross all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to Wolfe Island. Gleaming towers scattered across a farmers field are so terrible to look at. Especially from the front deck of an expensive vacation home.
    At least when compared to an open pit coal mine and tailings piles that are decently out of sight in the mountains of a distant province. it is obvious that you have been deluded by logic, science, common sense and decades of personal experience to think that knowing where your energy comes from is more important than a nice view. (with tongue firmly in cheek)

  2. aztextpress

    Thanks Robert! I read about that albatross too! Smart bird, escaping that oil spill!
    Michelle

  3. Larry

    “people at the beach were content to just lay and roast in the sun and sew the seeds for their own personal melanomas in the years ahead.”

    Sad but true….still the funniest thing I’ve read all year. 🙂

    I saw a bit of the future a few weeks ago…a tiny wind turbine that is like a vertical column with wings. Half the cost of a conventional turbine….is silent(almost) and produces 20% more energy. So small in fact…everyone could put one on the roof of their house. That is what I want to see, instead of wind farms.

  4. Hi Larry.
    Thank for the comment. I agree that the Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT) look great, but I still don’t think they live up to their billing. The power output of a wind turbine is based on the swept area of the blades, and the traditional 3 blade horizontal turbines still have a significant advantage. Bill describes this quite well in the Renewable Energy Handbook.
    There’s a great article on the Mother Earth News discussing the physics of this:
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Renewable-Energy/2008-02-01/Wind-Power-Horizontal-and-Vertical-Axis-Wind-Turbines.aspx?utm_content=04.30.10+GEGH&utm_campaign=GEGH&utm_source=iPost&utm_medium=email
    Remember as well you good clean wind for maximum efficiency and this is often hard to get at lower heights especially near houses where turbulence interferes with the wind. I’ll keep researching though because you’re right, it would be great if everyone could have one on their house. For now I think PV and Solar Domestic Hot Water are still the best things for most people’s roofs.
    Cam

  5. Larry

    Yeah, Cam…..I was a bit skeptical when I saw the info. This guy has the rights for ALL of Canada to distribute this new tech. There was another system too…it was…and forgive me, but I didn’t really understand it…but some sort of solar hot water system that….and here’s the bit I didn’t understand….would somehow make small amounts of biofuel too. I’ll post a link when his website come up. He told me 2 weeks, 4 weeks ago…so…who knows 😉

  6. Long time reader / first time poster. Really enjoying reading the blog, keep up the good work. Will most definitely start posting more oftenin the near future.

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