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The Critter War


By: Larry Galloway

As strange as it may seem, wild critters are a serious and escalating problem that electrical utilities continually battle. Squirrels, raccoons, opossums, snakes, and birds have caused more bizarre electrical outages, blinks, surges and service interruptions than the public would believe possible. And trying to put a stop to the problem is not only expensive, but nearly impossible.

The critter situation has become a war — and the critters are winning. As subdivisions invade what was once natural habitat, more and more wildlife ends up with human neighbors. And that inquisitive wildlife is stirring up trouble by turning power lines into highways or power poles into perches.

Some squirrels have developed a taste for insulation on wires or even gnaw on the wire itself, resulting in crispy critters and lots of mad consumers.

Large birds using poles as a perch can also cause problems, as do raccoons, opossums, and even snakes that have crawled into substations and shorted out equipment affecting thousands of consumers.

While weather continues as the leading cause of power interruptions, approximately 30 percent of Wiegress Electric’s total outages are critter-caused in some way.

The Co-Op has spent thousands of dollars on devices to thwart critters from special insulators to banding  poles. But there is basically nothing squirrels can’t get by. And when they unwittingly touch a live wire — it’s lights out, both for Wiregrass Electrical consumers and the bushytail.

For Wiregrass Electric’s employees, critters make every day an adventure, from the serviceman dealing with the family dog protecting his turf to the lineman who just discovered a hornet’s net attached to a transformer he’s working on. WEC’s field workers have to deal with bee, wasp, and hornet stings, spider and tick bites — and even fire ants that invade underground transformers. And let’s not forget wild animals flushed out by right-of-way crews.

Who would think about a raccoon causing a serious power outage? Believe me, critter outages are a problem that we continually have to deal with in providing you with dependable service!

But regardless of what causes your power to go off, we rush to get it back on as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we can’t control either the weather or critters when they threaten your power service.

Canned Sauerkraut


A simple recipe for home-made sauerkraut from Elaine Kitchens of Cullman.


  • Cabbage
  • Distilled water
  • Canning salt
  • Quart canning jars
  • Canning rings and lids


Cut up as much cabbage as you desire with a kraut cutter. Stuff cabbage in a quart canning jar, tight. Put 1 teaspoon of salt on top of cabbage. Pour boiling water over salt until jar is full. Screw canning ring and lid on jars. Put jars in an out building or carport for 6 weeks. Jars will work over the rim. After 6 weeks, clean outside of jars, tighten rings and put jars in your cabinet.

Cook of the Month: Sue Robbins’ Pear Relish


Sue Robbins and her husband developed their recipe for pear relish after enjoying a version made by some friends. “We’d let them pick pears from our trees, and they made a relish,” she says. “We liked it but came up with our own.” They use the abundance of fresh pears their two trees yield and also turn to their yard for other ingredients.  “We use peppers I grow in our garden,” Sue says. The Robbinses add the relish’s mix of sweet, tart and heat to amp up all kinds of things: vegetables like fresh field peas, meats like pork and turkey – Sue always puts some out at Thanksgiving – as well as salmon. But they like it best spooned atop a grilled hot dog.


  • 1 peck pears (about 15 pounds)
  • 5 red sweet peppers
  • 5 green sweet peppers
  • 3 hot peppers
  • 5 large onions
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 5 cups vinegar


  • 1 tablespoon saltPeel and core pears, grind and drain off most of the juice. Prepare peppers and onions and grind (do not drain). Dissolve sugar and salt in vinegar and bring to a boil. Add other ingredients, boil for 20 minutes. Put in hot jars and seal.

Lures Also Catch People


By: Glenn Reeves

If you are among the ranks of millions of fishermen who prefer artificial lures, the chances are pretty good that sooner or later you may find yourself dangling from the business end of a set of treble hooks. How many times have you overshot your target and hooked a springy willow bush? Two or three healthy jerks on the rod and the lure snaps loose, flying back straight at your face.

Or, how about the age-old technique of landing a bass by grasping its lower jaw and shoving your thumb into a mouthful of treble hooks. Is your fishing partner the type of fellow who prefers a long rod even when you’re sharing a small boat?]|||||

Believe me, the whistle of a lure as it passes the ear is carrying more than just a message.

These are but a few examples of the many ways anglers manage to get themselves hooked. Once it happens, the hook must be removed or the trip is ruined while you search for a doctor; no easy task on many weekends.

One recommended way of removing an embedded hook is to push the point of the hook on through the skin until it is exposed. Then snip off or bend the barb down so that it can be backed out. This works pretty well provided you have the necessary tool for cutting or bending the barb and you’re not too sensitive to pain. Even then, you wind up with two puncture wounds instead of one, compounding the chance of infection.

Another method, which is easier and less painful, requires only a piece of strong fishing line or shoe lace. Run the line around the middle of the hook’s bend forming a loop. Wrap the line around the hand or finger and grasp it between the thumb and index finger. Hold the lure carefully in your hand while applying pressure downward and backward on the eye of the hook, then give a sharp jerk on the line. The hook will back out of the same hole it entered with a minimum of pain and tissue damage. Dab a little antiseptic, apply a band-aid, and you’re back in business.

As a precautionary measure, if the hook involves any part of the eye, see a doctor immediately, and if you haven’t had a tetanus booster recently, get one within 48 hours.

Removing a hook with a piece of string can be accomplished by one person as long as the hook can be reached with both hands. When this is not the case, it pays to have a good fishing partner who can follow directions.

The best advice though is to make sure your lures do what they were designed to do and catch fish — not people. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a predicament much like the fellow who accidentally hooked his wife in the upper lip. The story goes that she was speechless, but only for a moment.