Big chill taking its toll
By HELEN JACK
YESTERDAY'S big chill has everyone talking about the weather again.
Ask locals, and they'll tell you it was the coldest it's been around here in 20 years.
One Northern Rivers solar hot water technician has been run off his feet fixing solar hot water panels cracked overnight due to the cold.
"It looks like I won't be home till 9pm," said Darryl Smith, of Northern Rivers Solar.
Mr Smith, a resident of Casino, said his own solar panels had also cracked, for the first time since he installed them 20 years ago.
"My phone has not stopped ringing since 9am and I've been getting calls from people as far away as Murwillumbah.
"And we will be run off our feet tomorrow as well." Mr Smith said the water running through the solar panels expands and can crack the pipes.
Thirsty dogs all over the Northern Rivers had to wait until the water in their bowls melted, and anything left outside overnight Wednesday was cold and stiff by morning.
Spare a thought for one hapless worm found frozen at Bonalbo by Northern Star correspondent Geoff Bateman.
"For animals both large and small, sunrise couldn't come soon enough," Mr Bateman said.
"Cattle huddled together as did poultry and even some dogs and cats called a truce and kept each other warm.
"But, as the photo shows, the little earthworm that stayed out too late socialising became an expression of nature's crystal winter art."
Mr Bateman said temperatures fell to minus eight degrees Celsius at Old Bonalbo and minus six at Bonalbo.
"There were white crystals coating every surface and the phone lines ran hot with calls to plumbers to repair burst water pipes."
Old Bonalbo dairy farmer Robert Armstrong said he was treated to an extra cup of tea yesterday morning.
"We did not start milking till 9.30am because all the machinery was frozen," he said.
"Such cold is only an inconvenience for us, you can't change Mother Nature, you just have to work with her." McLeans Ridges orchardist John Gough snr said the big chill was a Godsend.
"We need a good chill like this to set and sweeten the fruit," he said.
"So this weather is good and it looks like we will have a super crop this year.
"The blossom is small and sweet and there are fruit buds coming up everywhere."