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Created Monday 22 January 2024

Christchurch Flying Club, S1 E4: Windmill bash: hammering, screwing, soldering.

*You're the transcriber (same character as the narrator) and you clunk down on the play button on the tape recorder.*

*the whirring of a pre-collapse tape recorder, albeit with a post-collapse chassis, somehow still working after all this time, is heard, both on the microphone and by yourself.*

*with rhubarb rhubarb (talking) noises in the background*

Left channel.

Dear diary.

It's the 4th of March, 2178. It's still punishingly hot. I just got done with the windmill bash, at an opportune 11am. I was the only one wearing the breathing apparatus. Nobody talked at me funny for it, and I got a tiffin with the meal. Rabbit and gram curry for meat eaters, paneer and gram curry for lacto-vegetarians. I have gone off the Waitaha Windmill estate, upwind, to taste it, and I think I like it. Nice work boys! *saluting the cooks* "Oh, you like it eh Yannick?" Yah, great stuff. The choice of rabbit strikes me as odd, but you do what you must.

[Put a tag in that - In Canterbury country, ZL4TKE1 is called Yannick, mostly because that's the most appealing ungendered name I could find for them.]

The food's sort of irrelevant, though. What's relevant is this: the blades needed to be re-fabricated entirely; they're made of radiata pine, which, like the pseudoacacia, is invasive here, and they split in such a way that while repair was possible, the disk would never balance again. Instead, they will be broken down for naval stores, whatever that is. They are of a type that is simple to train people to make, albeit not the most efficient - it seems like it was fabric over a wooden framework. We were all taught every step well enough to do it at home (there's many reasons you might need a windmill at home (especially if you're out in the country), in the neighborhood fields, or in your personal patch, and it's important to know how to make one that is strong, aerodynamically efficient, sparing of materials, and is able to park itself if it runs too fast), and then specialized off into our tasks where we were taught further about whatever. In my case, I was mostly in charge of quality control, although I had to do a bit of sawing, sanding, and reusing the metal hardware (bolts, nuts, washers - washers function as load spreaders, extending the life of a bolted joint). I also soldered a wire back to a dynamo, which appeared undamaged and when tested by hand crank, produced the expected amount of power. When the blades were reattached to the mill, and pitched into the wind, they spun perfectly, and the light breeze translated to 15 horsepower. Not sure why they measure in horsepower, we all use kilowatts. I suppose it's a well-developed and rehearsed process, that they've done many times before. I'm told this takes the coal plant out of service entirely as long as the wind blows. I suppose I'll still need to get on clipping the pseudoacacia at the abandoned house, because the wind doesn't always blow, and I don't feel good about this. That's due June or July, I think, when they have a year of fuel to go (the wood needs to be seasoned for a year, although drying in a solar kill [i.e. kiln] helps them burn cleaner if taken out early). I'd have to check my typewritten diary binder. I think they want me to let it grow until winter. Firewood is traditionally cut at around Samhain tide though, and it's nearly Samhain tide here in New Zealand...? Whatever. The weather isn't as it was when and where those traditions were cast. It's warmer and drier now. It used to be so terribly cold and wet. Sometimes it still is. Trees keep growing for longer, but they cannot grow as much, because despite our best efforts, there is less water available to them.

I reckon I should bike home now, with most of the curry still in my tiffin box. Maybe I should go by the farm fields and see how our wheat is doing.


*wind noise, as well as bikes rushing by, and the occasional ox-cart, or screaming wheelbarrow or sailbarrow, and a couple electric trucks*

It's still the 4th of March, 2178. I'm by our wheat fields now. They still look mostly barren, with the bean straw, but I already see a few plants coming up. I suppose I should give the supervisor or the other residents (we all elect the supervisor as a neighbourhood, so it is not improper to go around them by consulting the other residents) a holler and ask if it's okay to go out there with a hoe and a sickle next week to rogue. I'm told winter wheat is what used to be planted at this time of year. They started using spring wheat because in one person's trial plot, it gave us bread by August, late winter, which was apparently generalizable, as long as winters were as warm as that year. Makes sense, we don't usually get hard frosts anymore. By the calendar, it's autumn, although it is still quite hot. I hope the spring wheat won't winter kill before it can be harvested. We do have a surplus, and we'll be fine if the crop fails, but it will be a sad occasion.

I reckon I should get back on the road home.


It's still *with a grunt* the 4th of March, 2178. I listened to the news station. The power forecast for today says I should stoke up the wood fire if I want to cook, because the local grid is around capacity. No matter. I usually do that anyway. We all have electric and wood cookers. The people who have PV panels tend not to use their wood cookers, because they can wire up the heating elements directly. I don't have PV panels. So.. I'll put my tiffin on the wood fire. Actually, what am I saying? I have a sun-cooker and it's still bright enough to cook by out. The tiffin box is oven safe, I'll go out and put it in there.

*creaky door noises and a lock being locked*

*silence for 6 minutes, other than the thrum of refrigeration equipment*

*a lock being opened and creaky door noises*

There. Should be ready in an hour, assuming the kiwibirds haven't gotten to it. If they do, no great peril. Doubt they'll be able to unpick it.


4 oclock. Tiffin was aight. Didn't take long to reheat, mercy of mercies.