Dear Geke,

Evaporation 24 to 31st January 4, 3, 3, 6, 5-4, 2-15, 2-9 We were heading to being the driest total to the end of January in the 65 years of records that I have, but that late rain means we are only the second driest. 2002/03 was worse, but had good February rain, so we ended up with a reasonable total. I don’t know if we will be so lucky this time as the consensus of my weather sites is that the rain will go away this week. The situation for power remains poor and the UK weather office has just issued a forecast for the next 5 years – POSSIBLY lower temperatures in 2017 (IF a La Nina forms) but more record temperatures in 2018-20. You may have heard that Peterhouse (my old school) had 500mm in 24hrs – I passed that on to a friend in the Lake District and she pointed out that Storm Desmond dumped 380mm in 24hrs and 760mm in 72 hours on Keswick. With wetter and steeper hills and more built up valleys, I am sure their 380mm did more damage than Peterhouse’s 500.

One way we can reduce the catastrophic effects of this extreme weather is to plant more trees. A tree I have been interested in for a long time is Millettia pinnata – from South East Asia – and it is now available in Zambia. Ben Warr has imported some improved grafted trees from India and is looking for farmers willing to plant them. The trees are a legume to fix nitrogen, the leaves can be browsed, they yield more oil per ha (under intense conditions, for biodiesel) than oil palm, the cake can be used (sparingly) for stockfeed or the nuts can be burned directly (as green coal). If you are interested in planting some (particularly in the triangles between center pivot circles) get in touch with Ben – in 6o years time (when they stop bearing enough nuts) our children can cut the trees for firewood.

The Troy Nicolle heat exchanger is up and running. It cost me $2,500 in steel plus some welding rods and labour. It isn’t perfect yet (needs a few modifications) but it burns firewood beautifully and is MUCH better at holding my temperatures than my old boiler radiator. If anyone wants that boiler and 6 1.4m x 1.4m radiators they are welcome to take them away. I think the boiler/radiators would still run a tunnel or chongololo adequately but (a) need the radiators installed differently from the way I had them and (b) a proper hot water pump – which I never had.

Best4now, Bruce


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