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MARCH 2012

Dixie Electric

COOPERATIVE

Special Gardening Section Ornamental grasses, water gardens and ladybugs can enhance your gardens

A Friend In Conservation Former Conservation Director Jim Martin sought ‘the best for Alabama’

Safety @ Home

Avoid a serious fall by practicing safe ladder guidelines

www.dixie.coop


VOL. 65 NO. 3 MARCH 2012

LIVING

MANAGER

Gary Harrison CO-OP EDITOR

Terri Faulkner ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. AREA cooperative member subscriptions are $3 a year; non-member subscriptions, $6. Alabama Living (USPS 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office. POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014.

ALABAMA RURAL ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION

AREA PRESIDENT Fred Braswell EDITOR Darryl Gates MANAGING EDITOR Melissa Henninger CREATIVE DIRECTOR Mark Stephenson ART DIRECTOR Michael Cornelison DIRECTOR, MARKETING & ADVERTISING Jay Clayton RECIPE EDITOR Mary Tyler Spivey ADVERTISING & EDITORIAL OFFICES:

340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 E-mail: jclayton@areapower.com www.areapower.coop NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE:

National Country Market 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 504 Austin, Texas 78704 1-800-626-1181 www.nationalcountrymarket.com www.alabamaliving.coop USPS 029-920 • ISSN 1047-0311

4 We are Here to Help Your cooperative offers a variety of FREE services to help member-owners save money on their monthly power bills.

16 ‘THE BEST FOR ALABAMA’

ON THE COVER Learn about “bug-friendly” gardens on Page 14.

As a member of Congress and commissioner of Conservation, Jim Martin worked to improve Alabama’s natural resources.

32 ALABAMA ARMADILLOS

These “Hoover Hogs” can walk under water, but they can’t seem to escape 18-wheelers. (They aren’t very smart, either.)

DEPARTMENTS

Spotlight 10 Power Pack 18 Worth the Drive 22 Consumer Wise 26 Cook of the Month 27 Hot Off the Grill 30 Gary Finch Outdoors 31 Fish&Game Forecast 34 Safe @ Home 46 Alabama Snapshots 9

Printed in America from American materials

Alabama Living

MARCH 2012  3


BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Manager’s Comments

Irvin Wells President • District 4

We are Here to Help

John Livings Vice President • District 6 Tom James Secretary/Treasurer • District 2 R.E. Adams District 5 Andrew Callaway District 7 Aaron Ellis District 9 Parker Gray Mount District 1 Albert Perry District 8 James Sikes District 3

TELEPHONE Montgomery 334.288.1163 Union Springs 334.738.2500 Toll-Free 1.888.349.4332 24- Hour Outage Reporting 24-Hour Automated Account Information 1.866.285.2359 PAYMENT OPTIONS By Mail: Post Office Box 30 Union Springs, AL 36089 In Person: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday 9100 Atlanta Highway Montgomery, AL 36117 402 East Blackmon Union Springs, AL 36089 Night Deposit: Available at both offices Credit Card: Visa and MasterCard accepted in office, online and through automated phone system Online: www.dixie.coop

4  MARCH 2012

R. Gary Harrison

CEO/General Manager

As I write this, we have just seen the end of the mildest January I can remember. For us as member-owners, that is good because as the membership as a whole we purchased about 17 percent less electricity than last year. This just reinforces what I tell our member-owners every day – it’s all about the weather. The majority of our power bills goes to heating and cooling our homes, and when the weather is mild, we all benefit. This month I want to let you know some of the ways we are trying to help you minimize and manage your power costs. I have harped on it a lot, but MyUsage.com is an awesome – and FREE – way to see your daily power usage. Every morning around 8 a.m., I get an e-mail letting me see the previous day’s usage, so I can be aware of any changes in my usage patterns. A few months ago, a new member moved into their new home and they registered to monitor their usage through MyUsage.com. They were averaging about $3 to $5 per day, and then on the first cold day, their usage spiked to over $20. They called our customer service representative who investigated it with her, and they found that the emergency heat was in the on position on their heat pump. One flip of a switch and their usage dropped back down the next day. If they had not been monitoring their usage, and then went on for a full month – especially a really cold one – this could have cost them hundreds of extra dollars. So, if you want to see how it works, and monitor any fluctuations in your usage, sign up for MyUsage.com for FREE, and join the more than 1,300 member-owners who already use the site through either usage monitoring or our Prepay service. Prepay has been a tremendous asset for our member-owners. Some individuals are utilizing the service as a means to avoid paying a large deposit, while others just prefer the option of paying as they go. Prepay is a simple program where each morning you get your current balance, and you can replenish your account when the balance gets low. Alerts can be received by e-mail, text, or telephone. Currently, almost 700 of our member-owners are taking advantage of

this program. Last year, we started a program through our phone system called the IVR, which stands for interactive voice response. The IVR system notifies member-owners if their bill is late. This is a great reminder for individuals who may have forgotten or misplaced their bill. In addition, the system places calls to those who are scheduled for disconnection of service. In January 2012, the IVR system was used to make 3,124 calls for late notices and 669 calls regarding pending disconnection of service. When you consider we only serve 22,000 member-owners, that is quite a few phone calls. This system has helped our members because we have seen a reduction in late fees and reconnection charges due to these reminders. For those of you who like to know the amount of your bill as soon as possible, we offer an e-bill option. You can find out what your bill is going to be even earlier if you sign up for e-bill because you are sent an e-mail as soon as your bill is created, so you don’t have to wait for it to be delivered through traditional mail. And, this is a FREE option. If you need personal attention to help determine how to make your home more energyefficient, our member services representative, Amy Calhoun, is available to assist you. She will review your bill, discuss your usage patterns, and help you come up with a plan to reduce your usage by making changes around your home such as adding insulation, replacing an inefficient electric furnace, or even suggesting small fixes like additional weather stripping or programmable thermostats. Best of all, this service is also FREE! I hope you can see that while our mission is to provide reliable, economical electric service, we want you to be able to control your costs. We are probably the only industry that sells a product and then spends a tremendous amount of time and effort helping you to find ways to use less of that product. Remember, mild weather equals low usage. But, summer is on the way and we don’t know what weather it will bring, so get those improvements done before the air conditioner starts running this summer. A


Your  Cooperative

Plant a Tree to Save Energy Trees create shade around your house and help keep it cool. Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25 percent of a typical household’s energy used for heating and cooling. The right type of tree can provide excellent protection from the summer sun but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house. Research shows that summer daytime air temperatures can be 3 to 6 degrees cooler in tree-shaded areas than in treeless areas. Shrubs and ground cover plants can also shade the ground and pavement around the home. This reduces heat radiation and cools the air before it reaches Source: U.S. Department of Energy

your home’s walls and windows. Use a large bush or row of shrubs to shade a patio or driveway. Plant a hedge to shade a sidewalk. Build a trellis for climbing vines to shade a patio area. Shrubs planted close to the house will fill in rapidly and begin shading walls and windows within a few years. However, avoid allowing dense foliage to grow immediately next to a home where wetness or continual humidity are problems. Well-landscaped homes in wet areas allow winds to flow around the home, keeping the home and its surrounding soil reasonably dry.

Be cautious when selecting the placement and size of a tree. Do not plant trees within 10 feet of the overhead service line to your home. Trees should be planted at least 30 feet from the main power lines. When selecting a tree, always consider its height at maturity. When planting near underground lines, always plant at least 10 feet from any underground electrical equipment, such as transformers. Also, be sure to call 8-1-1 to have underground lines located before you dig. A

Tip of the Month PAYING BILLS IS EASIER WITH THE COMPUTER OFF. I’m s av i ng $ 1 0 5 a ye ar by shutti ng dow n a l l t h e way. What c an you d o ? Fi n d out how t he litt l e c h ange s ad d up at To ge th er WeS ave. c om.

Alabama Living

T O GE T H E RW E SAV E .C OM

Change your air filter regularly. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool — wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system — leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure. Source: www.energystar.gov

MARCH 2012  5


PREPAY YOUR CHOICE TRAD ITION BILLIN AL G

Prepaid Electric Service from Your Cooperative YOUR POWER. YOUR PLAN. YOUR CHOICE. WHAT IS PREPAY? Prepay is a pay-as-you-go plan that offers you the opportunity to pay when you want, in the amounts you want, similar to a prepaid cell phone. Instead of receiving a traditional paper bill that is generated once each month, usage is calculated daily. Prepay members never pay a late charge, and avoid paying large deposits. IS PREPAY THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOU? Would it be easier for you to make daily, weekly or biweekly payments rather than one large payment each month? If so, Prepay may be for you. Also, statistics indicate that prepay electricity programs help lower electric consumption due to member awareness of usage patterns. So, any residential member-owner interested in monitoring his or her electric use would benefit from the Prepay program. IF I ALREADY HAVE A TRADITIONAL ACCOUNT, CAN I SWITCH TO PREPAY? Yes! You can switch to a Prepay* account even if you already have service with Dixie. However, Prepay is only for residential member-owners. Your existing deposit will be applied to your current account balance, with any remaining amount being applied as a credit to your Prepay account. *Some restrictions may apply. 6  MARCH 2012

www.dixie.coop


PREPAY LETS YOU: • • • •

Say goodbye to deposits and monthly bills Customize a payment schedule Buy electricity when convenient Monitor consumption

No La rge De posit! Pay-A s-You -Go!

WILL MY ELECTRIC SERVICE BE DIFFERENT IF I AM ON PREPAY? No. You will have the same reliable electric service you have always had. Since you will receive low balance and pending disconnect notifications prior to disconnect, you will know if you are experiencing a power outage or have just run out of money on your Prepay account. And, if you have a power outage, our crews will still be on standby, ready to assist you.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO SET UP A PREPAY ACCOUNT? A $5 membership fee or service connection fee is required on the account. You will also be responsible for paying a $40 account set-up fee and a $20 minimum payment on your Prepay account.

HOW CAN I CHECK MY BALANCE? You can get your up-to-the-minute account balance online or through an automated phone system 24 hours-aday. Access information is provided when your account is established.

WHAT IF MY PREPAY ACCOUNT RUNS LOW? Prepay is a self-managed program. You can set your account up to receive both phone and e-mail alerts for daily balance, low balance, pending disconnect, disconnect, and account recharge information. By using the alert system, you will have time to purchase power before the meter actually stops.

HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I KEEP IN MY PREPAY ACCOUNT? That is entirely up to you! The beauty of the Prepay program is that it fits YOUR budget. You can buy enough energy to last until payday, or you can buy enough to last several months. The choice is yours!

YOUR POWER. YOUR PLAN. YOUR CHOICE.

Alabama Living

If you think Prepay may be the right choice for you, stop by one of our offices or give us a call today.

MARCH 2012  7


We Want to Hear from You Customer surveys offer valuable feedback to help us better serve you During the past few months, our residential member-owners have been receiving surveys asking for feedback regarding your cooperative. We realize that you all have very busy schedules, but we encourage you to take the time to complete our survey. Those members who respond to the survey will be entered into our quarterly drawing for a $100 Visa gift card. The returned surveys will be analyzed to help us better understand how our member-owners use electricity, along with how we can provide programs that can help you the most. Survey questions will cover topics including member satisfaction, appliance usage, types of heating, air conditioning and water heating, interest in co-op programs and services,

communication opportunities, home information and basic demographics. Rest assured, all information we gather from the survey will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of Dixie Electric Cooperative. However, if you do not wish to answer a particular question, please skip over it. We do not want any information you feel uncomfortable providing. Thanks in advance for participating in our member-owner survey. At Dixie, our goal is not just to provide electricity, but to also serve our member-owners in the most reliable, efficient and economical means possible. This is just one example of how Dixie is putting the power in your hands. A

SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY

Dixie Electric Cooperative will award four $2,500 scholarships to students in our service area this spring. To receive an application, visit our website at www.dixie.coop and click the scholarship opportunity link on the home page, or contact the cooperative’s communications coordinator at (888) 349-4332. The deadline for applications is March 16, 2012.

www.dixie.coop Remember to visit our website to learn more about the valuable programs and services we offer our member-owners. The website contains informative information including: II Payment options II Energy saving tips

II Custom energy report II MyUsage.com II Online bill payment

Be sure to complete our member survey while on the website. You will be entered into our quarterly drawing for a $100 Visa gift card.

II Co-op news II Recipes

8  MARCH 2012

www.dixie.coop


Spot Light

In March

APRIL 13-15

Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival announces new poultry show The Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival will feature a new poultry show to be held in conjunction with the three-day family event at the Lions Club Fairgrounds in Moulton. Sanctioned by the American Poultry Association and American Bantam Association, the Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival Poultry Show is expected to attract exhibitors from across the southeastern United States and beyond for prizes and top honors. The competition is open to all Bantam and large fowl. Birds will be judged on various physical points as set forth in the Standard of Perfection published by the American Poultry Association or the Bantam Standard published by the American Bantam Association. The American Bantam Association classes consist of game, modern game, single comb clean leg, rose comb clean leg, all other comb clean leg, feather leg, and Bantam duck. The American Poultry Association Classes consist of American class, Asiatic class, English class, Mediterranean class, Continental class, and all other standard breed class. According to Show Chair Linda Blaxton, the opportunity to see and learn about chickens continues to be requested each year during the annual festival. “The Poultry Show will be especially helpful for those who are interested in becoming involved with show chickens and learning about the process while also allowing the general public to see and learn about different breeds of exotic chickens,” says Blaxton. In addition, there will be a Junior Showmanship Program for

ages 5 to 18 years old hosted by Tommy Lee, District Director of the American Bantam Association. This competition will test the youth’s knowledge of their chickens, their knowledge of the written standards, and their abilities to correctly handle the chickens. Junior awards to be presented include the Nugget Champion Award and Scramble Reserve Champion Award. In addition, the national youth group, APA-ABA Youth Poultry Club will be represented throughout the three-day event. The Poultry Show will take place April 13-15 in the A. W. Todd Coliseum located at the Lions Club Fairgrounds in Moulton. Judging begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. on Sunday. The event is open to the public and entry is included in the price of admission to the Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival. Awards – $75 Champion, $25 Reserve Champion per Class, and $200 Grand Champion plus Show Rosettes for the Junior Show Campion and Junior Reserve Show Champion – will be presented each day. Entry fee is $3 per coop per show. Those registering for Friday and Saturday shows will receive free entry for the Sunday show. The deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Monday, April 2nd. All entries must be mailed to PO Box 66, Moulton, Ala. 35650.  For more information, visit www.alabamachickenandeggfestival.com or contact Linda Blaxton at 256-566-3109 or the Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival office at 256-905-0700.

SLATED FOR MARCH 16 - 18

throughout the three-day event. The festival was chosen as one of the top 20 events in the southeast for March by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism. For complete information on great places to stay in and around the Eastern Shore call the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce at 251-621-8222 or visit the website at www.eschamber.com.

60th Annual Arts and Crafts Festival in Fairhope Fairhope, Alabama will celebrate the beginning of spring with the 60th Annual Arts and Crafts Festival downtown, which is scheduled for March 16-18. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and admission is free. More than 230 exhibitors from throughout the nation will bring their best works to show and sell at this juried show. There will be live entertainment and unique cuisine available

For more Alabama Events, visit page 29.

Alabama Living

MARCH 2012  9


Power Pack

Ultralight-led Black bears return to whooping cranes will Little River Canyon move to wildlife refuge National Preserve in North Alabama Many people are asking the staff at Little River Canyon Nine juvenile whooping cranes on their first ultralight-led migration south will now be taken to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alabama. The nine whooping cranes will be loaded up in travel enclosures onto vehicles as soon as possible, driven about 70 miles from Winston County to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.  They will be placed in a secure pen, equipped with identification bands and tracking transmitters, then later released in the company of other whooping cranes that have been wintering there. “We are fortunate to be in a position to help by standing in for our sister refuges at Chassahowitzka and St. Marks in Florida,” says Dwight Cooley, refuge manager for Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, on the outskirts of Decatur, which lies on the border of Tennessee. “While we hope they will visit us again in coming winters, where they eventually winter is not nearly as important as their survival. Their continued safety is our highest concern.” He went on to say the refuge hosted more than 11,000 sandhill cranes at the refuge this winter, as well as seven whooping cranes. “We also have fantastic observation facilities and viewing platforms that allow great views and don’t disturb the wildlife,” says Cooley.   “We’ve got great habitat and conditions, as evidenced by the number of cranes wintering on the refuge.” The original plan was to have the Operation Migration pilots use ultralight aircraft to guide the birds further south to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida – their originally planned wintering sites. The migration had been sidelined for over a month by an issue involving FAA flying policies. FAA granted a waiver for the flight, but the cranes apparently decided Alabama was far enough, refusing to follow the ultralights. The cranes had been imprinted to follow the pilots of the ultralights who are dressed in whooping crane costumes. The warm winter may also have had an impact on the cranes refusal to fly further south. The nine whooping cranes are part of an effort to establish an Eastern Migratory population for one of the most endangered birds in the world. Cranes have been taught variations of the eastern migratory route for the past decade. There are now about 104 cranes in the eastern population.  10  MARCH 2012

National Preserve about black bears due to the high number of sightings, signs and footprints. The park has not had any problems with bear encounters because the bears are quite reclusive and not used to human food or contact. All park sightings have ended with the bear leaving upon recognizing a person was near. A black bear is the only bear found east of the Mississippi River and it is normally not a threat to humans. Bears can become habituated to human food and human contact, increasing the likelihood of bear–human interactions that end badly, usually for the bear. To prevent this, the National Park Service is using animal resistant garbage cans at all picnic areas.  Park Ranger Larry Beane says, “This has not only prevented bears from becoming attracted to people’s food in the park, it has prevented other animals from scattering garbage and becoming a nuisance.  The cans have saved thousands of hours of work cleaning up after raccoons and opossums. Keeping bears away from human food is one of the best ways to keep both the bears and our visitors safe.” As black bears become more common here it is very important that we keep them wild. Confrontations with black bears are very rare.  Most incidents are the direct result of people approaching the bear for photographs, surprising the bear, or feeding the bear. You can minimize the possibility of a confrontation by following these basic rules: Never approach, feed or follow wild animals, especially bears. Black bears are scavengers looking for an easy meal like human food, pet food, and even bird seed. Bears were once common here. From the early 1900s to 1980s, generations of people lived here with very limited bear interaction.  Some of the recent bears moved into the area with ear tags from Georgia. As these bears find good habitat and breed, their numbers will likely grow to what the habitat can support. Black bears attract large numbers of tourists to the Great Smokey Mountains, increasing the tourism of the area. Tourism is one of the main industries providing incomes in both Cherokee and DeKalb County. The bears have returned and though not numerous, the park protects them and their habitat. For more information, call the park office at 256-845-9605. www.alabamaliving.coop


Journaling Helps Kids Connect With Nature By Debbie Stringer

My only memory of kindergarten involves a disastrous trip to the zoo. While my classmates teased the chimps, I zeroed in on a dead blue jay on the sidewalk. I scooped up the bird and stuffed it down the bib of my jumper. I wanted a closer look at those brilliant feathers. Back in the classroom, my plan fell apart when the teacher noticed the feathers poking from my dress. She shrieked as I pulled out the decaying carcass and launched a what-were-youthinking tirade. I felt humiliated. Worse, I lost my treasured bird. There’s a more sanitary way for kids to connect with nature, without provoking ire. A personal nature journal is a fun and educational way to record, with notes and sketches, the things kids see in the natural world around them. Not only is making a journal fun for any age and skill level, there are lessons to be learned in the process, from writing to science to art. Nature journaling engages all the senses, as well as the imagination. It helps children slow down and focus while stimulating their curiosity about nature. Maybe most important, it gets nature-deprived kids outdoors, away from electronic diversions. As Richard Louv writes in his best-selling book “Last Child in the Woods,” “In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy and privacy: a place distant from the adult world, a separate peace.” A personal journal can help a youngster discover this refuge. Basic journal-making supplies cost very little. All a child needs is a spiral notebook, a sketchbook or a blank journal, plus some pencils, crayons, colored pencils or markers. A cheap set of watercolors works great, too. One useful but optional accessory is a field guide to the trees, wildflowers, insects, birds, reptiles or amphibians a youngster is likely to encounter in his or her excursions. The back yard is a fine place to begin. Kids should decide for themselves what they want to put in their journal, but they may need suggestions to get going. Here are some ideas for your little explorer: Describe the day: What is the date and time of day? What’s the weather like? Make lists: What do you see that flies or crawls? What do you see that’s yellow? Do you see something you’ve never seen before? What do you hear? See any animal tracks? Go for the details: How many petals does a daffodil have? Examine the shapes and colors in seeds and berries. But never eat them! Draw feathers you find and try to match them to birds. How many different leaf shapes can you find? Alabama Living

Supplies needed for creating a nature journal are basic and inexpensive. Most important is the imagination. Try creative techniques: Put a leaf (not the poison ivy!) under a page of your journal. Rub the top side of the paper with a crayon until you see the image of the leaf. Use any colors you want; leaves aren’t always green. Another idea: Use a fine-point black marker to outline the shapes of things you find; fill in with watercolors, pencils or crayons. Layer colors to see what new colors you can create. Make notes about the animals and insects you see. What are they doing? What are they eating? Where did you find them? If you see baby birds or animals, how are their parents caring for them? Look at the colors around you. What colors are in the sunset, fall leaves and dragonflies? What colors do you see in the winter? Which are your favorite colors? Draw a map of your yard. Include the house, trees, paths, garden, rocks, etc. Mark the locations of cool things you find, maybe a turtle or cocoon or bird nest. Go outside at night. Listen and look for nocturnal creatures such as owls, raccoons, geckos, moths, bugs and bats. Draw the moon phase and record the date. Write a poem or a song. Describe something of beauty and wonder, or write about the way you feel when you’re alone in nature. SOURCE: DEBBIE STRINGER We’ve got a new look! Alabama Living has been redesigned inside and out. We have been working on this for over a year, so we hope you like it. Let us know what you think! MARCH 2012  11


Power Plants

Water in Your Garden With careful planning, you can add soothing water elements to your yard or gardens By Katie Lamar Jackson

T

here’s nothing like a water feature to enhance our landscapes and homes. Water features are not only beautiful, but can add value to our property, so installing such structures can have economic benefits as well. In fact, in feng shui teachings, water is a symbol of prosperity and money. As much value as they add to our lives and properties, however, using water features wisely is important and downright imperative in areas with limited water resources. If you are thinking of adding water elements to your world, take time to plan them well and find ways to use that water as efficiently as possible. Water features can range from large ponds and flowing streams, to pools and fountains, to bubbling water-filled containers and even birdbaths. Water features not only add beauty to our environments, they can provide a soothing effect, filter unwanted noise, cool the air, provide recreation opportunities and draw birds and other wildlife to a landscape.

Katie Jackson is associate editor for the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. Contact her at csmith@acesag.auburn.edu

12  MARCH 2012

Determine your needs To find the right water feature for your needs, first determine how and where you want to use it and what purpose you hope it will serve. For example, if you simply want to add the serene sound of trickling or bubbling water to a space, that can be as easy as using a small container or indoor fountain in a room or office. If, on the other hand, you want to use water to draw wildlife, enhance an ecosystem or add an impressive water element or focal point to your landscape, pools, ponds, waterfalls or fountains may be your best bets. Next, know your water resources. If you live in a wet climate with lots of rain or in an area that has wetlands, a stream or boggy spots, a water feature can be used to turn those natural sources of moisture into something beautiful and beneficial in the landscape and sometimes even solve runoff and excess water problems around your home and property. If, in contrast, you live in a hot, arid area where moisture is a rare commodity, water in the landscape can help cool a home or outdoor seating area and provide much-needed habitat for insects and animals. However, water must be used with care and can be an expensive option. In those cases, look for ways to use alternative sources of non-potable water.

And if you live in an urban environment with lots of concrete and hardscape surrounding you, water features can help diminish noise pollution and draw nature to an otherwise sterile area, but you are likely to have to invest in manufactured water features such as swimming and reflecting pools, fountains and water-filled containers. There are ways that are economical and environmentally sound to have a water feature almost anywhere. ‘Harvest’ rainwater One option is to use harvested rainwater. Rain barrels and cisterns can be used to collect water from rooftops, which can then be used to irrigate garden areas or fed into fountains and other water features. In fact, rain barrels are now available that combine water collection with a water feature, such as a fountain function. Another option is to collect condensation from air conditioning units and feed this water into water features. Rain gardens are yet another option. These are actually garden areas developed to collect and filter pollutants from water that runs off driveways, lawns and other ground surfaces. They are planted with water-loving plants that can also sustain long periods of dry conditions and can be lovely additions to landscapes.

www.alabamaliving.coop


If you already have a swimming or reflecting pool, water from these can be re-circulated through fountains and waterfalls so that water serves double duty. Tranquil water features provide a still, quiet water option that requires no electricity to operate and, aside from making sure the water does not become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, can be a relatively easy and inexpensive way to add water to your world. For example, sealed pots and urns filled with water, water plants and fish can be used on patios, in homes and elsewhere. Of course, there is also the simple birdbath, which can be beautiful and functional for those who love to watch birds in their yards. Equipping these with misters will draw even more birds. But how about powering these water projects? One option is to use natural gravity to move water, such as placing a water feature on a slope so rainwater or streams move along on their own. Another way to save on electricity is to use solar-powered pumps. Regardless of the water feature you choose, a degree of time and money will be required to make them truly beautiful and functional. Before you make that investment, spend some time exploring your options through books, websites and through local gardening groups or gardening stores. You may want to enlist the help of a professional landscape designer as well. And make sure you contact your local municipal and water authorities to ensure that you are complying with water and land-use restrictions. Finally, keep in mind that a water feature, no matter how small and shallow, can be a danger to small children and pets, so be sure to secure it as well as possible from such dangers. A

Alabama Living

Plant Once, Eat for Years

Using perennial fruits and vegetables in your garden can save time and money, even by using less traditional, healthy crops By Katie Lamar Jackson

P

lanting a garden each year is a rite of spring for most gardeners, but it can be expensive and time consuming. Imagine having fruits and vegetables that come back on their own each year. That can happen in virtually every part of the United States, regardless of the climate, with perennial plants that produce food year after year. Among those plants are asparagus, rhubarb, onions, kale and other leafy greens, artichokes, garlic, radicchio and horseradish, to name a few. And then there are the fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, figs and, of course, fruit trees. The idea of perennial food gardening is nothing new. But it is enjoying a revival as more and more gardeners have less and less time (and sometimes less money), and have become more aware of the environmental benefits of planting perennial crops. To make perennial gardening even more appealing, gardeners are rediscovering less traditional, but delicious and healthy crops, such as bamboo shoots; chayote squash, sunchokes and cardoon. And new edible plants are being discovered regularly, so finding crops that work in any area or climate is becoming easier and easier. Using perennial crops is part of the permaculture system approach to gardening and farming, which uses tech-

niques and practices that combine the best of wildlife gardening, edible landscaping, and native-plant cultivation into one low-maintenance, self-contained and productive ecosystem. Permaculture was developed and introduced in the 1970s by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. They and others since have promoted the idea of food production and agricultural systems that work with nature rather than trying to work around it. Permaculture uses organic gardening, sustainable farming and forestry and other practices to create a growing and living environment that is interconnected. Gardeners can gradually turn their landscapes and gardens into ecosystems that provide food not only for people, but also for the insects and animals in the environment. Many perennial food crops, especially fruit trees and shrubs, can also be beautiful additions to the landscape. Learning more about perennial food crops is easy. A Web search or visit to the local library will offer lots of information. Check out the book “Perennial Vegetables: From Artichoke to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious, Easy-to-Grow Edibles” (Chelsea Green), or the websites perennialvegetables.org or perennial-vegetables.blogspot.com. Want to learn more about permaculture? Classes may be available locally or online, so check those out as well. A MARCH 2012  13


Power Plants

A Bug-Friendly Garden The plants in your garden are foundations for the future By Katie Lamar Jackson

B

ugs (insects, to be more scientifically correct) are often considered foes in the garden and landscape. To Doug Tallamy, however, they are gifts to our ecosystems. Tallamy is an entomologist and chairman of the University of Delaware’s Entomology and Wildlife Ecology department. He has demonstrated through research and experience in his own backyard that nurturing the right insects is a good thing for plants and the environment. His research on how plants and insects interact and the impact of nonnative (alien) plants on insect populations was field tested when he and his wife, Cindy, bought land in Pennsylvania in 2000. The two spent several years eliminating invasive and nonnative plants from their property, and replacing those alien plants with native species. Then they recorded the changes in the insect and animal populations that visited there. Today, their land is a haven for butterflies, bees, beetles and other insects that attract birds, reptiles, amphibians and many other species, some of which are facing declining populations and possible extinction. As Tallamy began sharing the story of his research and personal experience with community groups, audience members often asked for “how to” information, so he decided to write a pamphlet, which became a book titled “Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens” (Timber Press). To Tallamy’s surprise, his handbook has caught on among garden groups and individual gardeners, even those who have traditionally promoted the use of nonnative plants. “The purpose of my book is to explain why your garden has an important ecological function today that it didn’t used to have,” which he says, is restoring biodiversity to our world. According to Tallamy, biodiversity is in serious decline for a variety of reasons, including urbanization and the loss of natural habitats. As a result, whatever green space is left needs to nurture a diverse array of or-

14  MARCH 2012

ganisms, from fungi and bacteria in the soil to plants, insects and birds. Beyond supporting a healthy ecosystem, such diversity is critical to humans, who – whether they realize it or not – depend on biodiversity for their own survival. Tallamy notes that one-third of North America’s birds are endangered or threatened and 33,000 North American wildlife species are imperiled. As he explains, these and other species help support a balanced ecosystem that provides the oxygen, water and other essential components of life that humans rely upon. Loss of any species, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, has a direct and potentially devastating impact on human lives. Unfortunately, the way many people garden today does not promote a hospitable environment for diverse species. “People don’t realize that the way we have simplified our landscapes has played a big role in the loss of biodiversity,” Tallamy says.

Invasive plants take over

Too often landscapes are designed with just a few species of alien ornamentals, which over time, become invasive and overtake native plants in the ecosystem. Tallamy’s studies have shown that insects often do not feed on those alien plants. Consequently, there are fewer insects to feed birds and other animals. Eventually, the displacement of native plant species leads to the disappearance of insect and animal populations. But Tallamy believes that those very gardens can be transformed to support biodiversity without giving up the aesthetics of a beautiful landscape or without going completely native. “Increasing the percentage of natives in your garden is a good goal to start with, and should generate feelings of accomplishment rather than guilt,” says Tallamy. “Every time we use an alien plant when we could have used a native, biodiversity is lost,” he adds. “It is up to the individual gardener to decide how to deal with this tradeoff. I always say the more native plants the

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Alabama Living

MARCH 2012  15


Discovering Alabama

‘The Best for Alabama’ Former Conservation Commissioner Jim Martin dedicated his career to serving the state he loves By Doug Phillips

A

dear friend of mine celebrated his 93rd birthday last year. Ninetythree years, and he still mows his lawn himself, does his own home repairs, and still deals in high circles proposing solutions to state and national issues. My friend, former U.S. Congressman and former Alabama Commissioner of Conservation, James D. Martin, is today retired (sort of) and resides in Gadsden with his lovely wife Pat, who was the reigning Miss Alabama during her senior year at the University of Alabama when Jim met her. And Jim still greets life with the boundless vigor and enthusiasm that have marked his career as an accomplished leader – military leader, business leader and congressional leader. As a young Army officer Jim led troops in combat during World War II. In the 1950s, as a savvy entrepreneur he advanced a small oil company into a major petroleum business. And, in the 1960s, as a widely respected civic voice he was elected to serve Alabama as a member of Congress. During his varied career Jim has kept company with famous generals, industrial barons and U.S. presidents. But for many of us, Jim is best appreciated for his love of Alabama, particularly his passion for AlaDoug Phillips is host of the Emmy-honored television series Discovering Alabama, a production of the Alabama Museum of Natural History/The University of Alabama in cooperation with the UA Center for Public Television and Alabama Public Television. Visit the series at www.discoveringalabama.org

16  MARCH 2012

Jim Martin was known as a leader

bama’s great outdoors. And it has been my good fortune to work closely with Jim on a number of Alabama projects.

Improved state parks

During Jim’s seven-year tenure (19871993) as Alabama commissioner of Conservation, he and I collaborated regularly as he sought to improve state parks, promote enhanced wildlife populations and implement new programs for conservation education. And as Jim has always acknowledged, his term as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) was quite challenging. Overseeing that department was a new kind of role for him, made all the more interesting because it is very large with many divisions and many administrative layers serving many important responsibilities throughout the state. So, true to Jim’s style, he often surprised the bureaucracy with his bold tactics to expedite targeted aims. In fact, it’s probably an understatement to say that Jim sometimes ruffled the feathers of those uncomfortable with his zeal.

Now, I hope my friend Jim Martin won’t mind if I confide that, on a couple of occasions, he and I also had disagreements. And I can attest, when pressed Jim can forgo his normally gracious manner and be rather blunt telling you what he thinks. But this shouldn’t offend anyone. Jim’s frankness stems from an uncommonly kind, sincere heart and strength of character that have consistently blessed his path in life, consistently bringing success in his many walks of life. Among the first challenges of Jim’s tenure as Conservation commissioner was to wrangle with oil companies over offshore drilling rights along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. When the dust settled, Jim’s boldness and business finesse, together with the help of capable legal expertise from within ADCNR, resulted in a doubling of Alabama’s share of royalty revenues from the oil companies. In 1991 Jim undertook his environmental initiative to establish a state program for purchasing and protecting critical Alabama wild lands, a challenge made especially daunting in a state where traditionally conservative voters are often suspicious of things “environmental.” Indeed, such skepticism had stymied earlier land-protection efforts.

Believed in conservation

But Jim believed that conservation should be a basic tenet of any sound conservative philosophy, and he took a different approach than earlier land protection efforts. Recognizing that Alabama’s natural assets are important for a quality future, Jim brought together a diverse range of interest groups – business leaders, sportsmen, foresters, farmers, environmentalists, agency officials and others – and conducted a process of cooperative input to craft an innovative land conservation program tailored to Alabama’s needs and suitable to all Alabama groups.

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Martin still enjoys working around his home

The individuals and organizations that participated in this process looked beyond immediate self interests and worked together for the long-term benefit of our state. The result of this selfless commitment is Alabama’s Forever Wild Program, to date having secured permanent protection for more than 226,000 acres of important wild lands across the state. Forever Wild is an achievement about which Jim Martin is most pleased and proud, in part because the program’s funding comes from a portion of the interest generated by coastal oil and gas revenues, thus avoiding direct costs to Alabama taxpayers. Forever Wild is entering the 20th year of its initially authorized 20-year term. Meanwhile, as the program approaches a date for legislative reauthorization this year, Alabama’s present economic downturn is taking a far-reaching toll, shrinking funding for many organizations and prompting

Alabama Living

new pressures for legislatively redirecting a sizable slice of the royalty monies that fund Forever Wild. In Jim’s own words: “There are legitimate concerns on both sides of this issue, and I would hope the various parties could come together and support each other in working for a mutual solution, in finding ways to meet the full funding needs of all the different groups, and without infringing upon the Forever Wild Program and its vital conservation accomplishments for our state. Alabama’s future is best served by fully maintaining all important programs promoting conservation in the state.” Such a proactive stance is typical of my friend Jim Martin, ever eager to help secure the best for Alabama, always advocating a future still with the abundant heritage of lands, waters and wildlife that make our wonderful state so special. And for that, I hold the highest appreciation for Jim, and

I expect that he will continue his boundless enthusiasm for Alabama on to his 100th birthday and beyond. A

Martin believes in conservation

MARCH 2012  17


Worth the Drive

Jim’s B Highway 82 BBQ Jeanette Hughes serves barbecue in Billingsley done simply, done right By Jennifer Kornegay

arbecue joints in Alabama are a dime a dozen. In our big cities, our little towns and scattered along the highways and byways that connect them, you can hardly go 15 miles without coming across a place that promises to satisfy our need for all manner of slow-cooked, savory sauced pork. They vary in appearance and offerings, from the rustic roadside shanty to major chains, and their sheer number – instead of diluting their importance – provides resounding proof of the hold this particular category of cuisine has on our hearts (and stomachs). Many backyard masters of smoke and flame, equipped with fancy green eggs or humble $30 domed grills from the local super center, do a mighty fine job. But in my opinion, there’s no better place to conciliate your ’cue craving than Jim’s Highway 82 BBQ in Billingsley. Here, in a small, non-descript tin-roofed building sitting only feet from the highway’s shoulder, owner and head cook Jeanette Hughes is serving barbecue done simply, done right. Her dedication to honest ingredients, handled with love and prepared using old-school, tried-and-true methods yields consistently delicious results, as evidenced by the scores of repeat customers, many of whom drive way out of their way for a few bites of succulent pulled pork.

No frills at Jim’s To help celebrate Alabama’s 2012 “Year of Food,” each month freelance writer Jennifer Kornegay will take you to an out-of-the-way restaurant worth the drive.

At this barbecue heaven, pigs don’t

just fly; they soar on wings of flavor. But you’ll find no frills at Jim’s. Order at the front counter, fix your own tea, grab a seat at one of the basic laminate-top tables, (complete with rolls of paper towels in lieu of napkins), and a friendly server will bring you your meal on a paper plate when it’s ready. Then, you can only pray that no one is watching, because with one whiff of the intoxicating scents emanating from said plate, the temptation to messily devour the food in front of you will be overwhelming. The experience may not be pretty, but it will taste good. Lucky for you, there’s more than a fair chance that everyone else in the bare-bones dining room will have fallen prey to the same urges, meaning none of you will be bothering to judge each others’ table manners. Hughes’ dad Jim Lenoir opened his namesake restaurant in 1973. A farmer with a life-long love of turning ordinary pork into barbecue, he bought what had originally been a gas station, then a place that sold alcohol. He kept selling the booze, but added his barbecue and bags of potato chips to the menu. At that time, the space was just big enough to make a sandwich, turn around and hand it to the customer. Over the years, as Jim’s popularity grew, he added on to the building and stopped serving drinks. Hughes got involved in 1988; her dad passed away in 2004.

People come back

She believes her dad would be more than proud of the restaurant’s continued success. “We have locals that come in every day, as well as a lot of travelers that stop in on their way to and from Tuscaloosa,” she says. “I think people keep

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Jennifer Kornegay 18  MARCH 2012

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Alabama Living

MARCH 2012  19


Continued from Page 18

The meat is so melt-in-your-mouth tender, it’s like pork pudding.

Billingsley

Jim’s Highway 82 BBQ Highway 82 West Billingsley 334-366-4284

20  MARCH 2012

coming back for the food.” No doubt the Roll Tide décor adds to the allure. Almost every inch of available wall space is plastered with University of Alabama memorabilia: football schedules (going back years), photos of legendary coaches and players, odes to Big Al. “All of Alabama’s coaches except Saban have come in, but his wife has made it in,” Hughes says. Other notable figures also have found their way to Jim’s. “Governor Bentley’s wife came in and visited with us a few weeks ago; she’s on our road a lot,” says Hughes. “We’ve always been hot spot for Alabama home games. It’s like a big family get-together. Crowds come in and cut up and eat and have fun before going to game, and then stop back by on their way home.” But even Auburn fans who find themselves on Highway 82 at Billingsley have a hard time resisting Jim’s. To make them feel welcome, Hughes has dedicated one section of one wall to Auburn football items. In fact, people from all over pack the little parking lot and humble dining room

for one reason: Jim’s pulled pork sandwich. It starts when Hughes, who cooks all the meat herself, puts pork butts over hot coals, then smokes them over hickory wood for hours. Next she wraps the butts in foil and continues to cook them, low and slow, for 24 hours. When the meat is literally falling apart, Hughes gives it a little help, pulling it all by hand, never chopping.

No gristle, no fat

“That way I can make sure there’s no gristle or fat that makes it in,” she says. And there’s not. The meat is so meltin-your-mouth tender, it’s like pork pudding. It’s so moist, it has no need of sauce to wet it, but because Jim’s tomato-based sauce, with just a hint of heat, is really yummy, you’ll want it on there anyway. A few pickle slices add texture and tang, creating bliss on a bun. Hamburgers, chicken fingers, sides like thick-cut onion rings and sweet endings like crispy fried peach pies are also tasty, but if Hughes ever wanted to return to the restaurant’s roots and serve nothing more than barbecue sandwiches with a bag of chips, I’ll bet she’d lose nary a customer. A www.alabamaliving.coop


Alabama Living

MARCH 2012  21


Consumer Wise

Gadget Damage Protect your expensive electronic devices from power surges

This whole-house surge suppressor is designed to be mounted on the circuit breaker panel

James Dulley is a nationally syndicated engineering consultant based in Cincinnati.

22  MARCH 2012

Q:

We have many electronic gadgets in our house, and I am concerned about a voltage surge ruining them. Are there wholehouse surge suppressors that will protect everything electric in our house?

A:

People often think of only electronic gadgets, such as computers, game consoles and audiovisual items as being at risk from electrical surges. Actually, nearly every electric item in a house today has some sort of sensitive electronics that can be damaged by a surge. These include kitchen ranges, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, air conditioners and fans. A common source of an electrical surge is lightning during a thunderstorm. The voltage and current spikes from just a single lightning strike are enormous, and there are typically many for the duration of the storm. If your house and wiring experience a direct or very nearby hit by lightning, even a good surge suppressor will probably not be able to protect all electronic items. When a storm is forecast and you begin to hear thunder in the distance, unplug as many of your electronic devices as possible. This actually is a good idea anyway because many devices draw a lot of electricity even when you think they are turned off. Just switching them off may not be adequate protection from voltage and current surges. A huge voltage surge can arc across an open switch and still fry the electronic components in an expensive device.

Smaller surges cause damage

Many times, it’s the repeated smaller electrical surges that damage the majority of electronic equipment. These can be generated by the switching on and off of inductive equipment (usually electric motors) in nearby businesses. Some of these smaller surges can even be generated by motors from your own vacuum cleaner, refrigerator compressor or clothes washer through your home’s wiring. It usually takes a long time for these numerous smaller surges to cause failures. One common result is that the wire and circuit board insulation slowly breaks down from each small surge and normal aging. Eventually, a wire may short out or the electronic component begins to malfunction, and the device fails. These surges can also reduce the life of many types of light bulbs. There are several types of whole-house surge suppressors available designed to protect all of the wiring circuits in a house. Some mount on the circuit breaker panel indoors or are built into a circuit breaker. Others are designed to mount at the base of the electric meter. Many electric cooperatives sell and install the units that work with electric meters for you. Check with your local electric cooperative to see if it offers this service. The circuit breaker panel models are not difficult to install, but I recommend hiring an electrician to do it for you. There are differences in the protection provided by various surge suppressors. A common design uses metal oxide varistors (MOV) to dissipate the surge before it flows through the house wiring.

Continued on Page 36

Send your questions to: James Dulley Alabama Living 6906 Royalgreen Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45244

You can also reach Dulley online at

www.dulley.com

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Alabama Living

MARCH 2012  23


Ornamental Grasses Decorative grasses come in all sizes and colors By Katie Lamar Jackson

T

o many people, grass is dense, green coverage for the lawn. The fact is there are many varieties of grass that can be used for so much more – to accent landscapes and patios, to add color, texture and sound to the garden. Long, swaying grasses may be part of a lovely meadow scene; other grasses serve as a home and food source for wildlife; and some can add interest to a winter landscape. Think pampas, big and little bluestem, prairie dropseed, cord, porcupine, fountain, feather and hair grasses. The names alone suggest the fabulous array of options available for planting, many of which have the added advantage of being native to an area, and thus environmentally responsible choices. Not only are ornamental grasses beautiful, they are easy to grow and maintain. Give them a home in well-drained soil and sufficient room to grow and they will be happy with hardly any fertilizer or irrigation and only a bit of maintenance. Grasses of some sort are native to almost every ecosystem, from arctic tundra to arid deserts, from coastal shores to swamps and wetlands. And “ornamental grasses” aren’t limited to just the grass family (Poeceae), but include other grasslike perennials such as sedges, rushes, restios, cat-tails and bamboos. The options are extensive, and great “grasses” can be found to fit any location and climate.

Grasses come in all sizes

To find just the right ornamental grass, begin by assessing the area where they will be used. Determine the lighting and mois-

24  MARCH 2012

ture available, then think about what size of plant will work best in that spot. Ornamental grasses range from low-growing groundcovers to giant, towering clumps and come in a wide range of colors and textures so the only limit is imagination and space. Using only native plants may narrow the options a bit, but there should still be plenty to choose from. Also, think about what other plants will be included in the area. Will grasses be used with other grasses or with wildflowers, bulbs, or bedding plants? Knowing the plant mix you hope to use will help narrow the options, as well.

Pick native species

Now the fun part begins: Choosing the species or cultivars to buy. It helps to see photos of those options so get a highquality ornamental grass book, several of which are available at libraries, bookstores and online. Be careful not to pick plants that can become invasive or plants that are not suited for local conditions. Good advice can be found at local garden centers, Cooperative Extension System offices and from experienced local gardeners, such as Master Gardeners and garden club members. Ornamental grasses should be purchased from reputable dealers as seed, container plants or plugs and bare-root plants. Seed is the least expensive choice but, needless to say, will take a little longer to become established. Once the grasses are in the ground, keep them well watered and tended until they become established, then sit back and enjoy – no mower needed! A

Continued from Page 14 better, and as you increase the percentage of natives in your yard, you are providing more food and raising the carrying capacity of your yard. That does not mean you can’t use some nonnatives, though.” He does encourage planting a variety of native plants, though. One way to approach this is to find and remove highly invasive nonnatives in your yard, and have a plan for what natives will be put in their place. Another option is nonnative attrition. Every time something nonnative dies, replace it with something native and gradually increase the native plants over time. Tallamy notes that even a tiny spot of land has an impact. That small spot of biodiversity will draw beneficial insects and birds and, by encouraging neighbors to do the same, the biodiversity of an area can expand, even in urban environments.

Love your bugs

Another paradigm shift for many gardeners is to learn to love insects and accept them as an essential part of the ecosystem. Plant a garden not only for the beauty of the plants, but also the beauty of the things that come to those plants, Tallamy says. “We have good data to prove that, if you plant a diversity of native plants in the yard, they will attract a diversity of natural herbivores that, in turn, attract a diversity of natural enemies, which keep them in check,” he says. “You won’t have more insect damage if you plant natives. “Many of the insects you see are good guys, not bad guys,” he continues. “They will keep garden pests in check and create an ecological balance in your yard that will be interesting to watch but will not cause unsightly damage. “The central message I am trying to promote is that plants are more than ornaments. They are the base of all the food webs on this planet, so if we only treat plants as ornaments in our landscape we are losing one of their primary functions.” A

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Alabama Living

MARCH 2012  25


Alabama Recipes

Hot Off The Grill

Cook of the Month

Barbecued Fillets

Martha Joe Troyer, Southern Pine EC 4 strips bacon (regular or turkey bacon) 1 pound lean ground beef Salt Lemon pepper 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 2-oz. can mushroom stems and pieces, drained and cut in smaller pieces 1 tablespoon minced onion 2 tablespoons green bell pepper, finely chopped

In small skillet or microwave, cook bacon until limp. (Precooking not needed with turkey bacon.) Drain bacon on paper towels. Pat ground beef on waxed paper into a 12 x 8 x ¼-inch rectangle. Sprinkle lightly with salt and lemon pepper. Top with Parmesan cheese. Combine mushrooms, onion and bell pepper; sprinkle evenly over ground beef. Roll ground beef like a jelly roll, starting from the longest side. Cut into four, 1 ½-inch wide slices. Wrap each slice with a strip of bacon, securing with wooden picks. (If desired, freeze meat slices with a piece of waxed paper between each one. Thaw completely before grilling.) Grill over medium coals, 8 minutes. Turn and grill 8 more minutes or to desired doneness. (Or broil in oven.) Yield: 4 servings.

Beer Marinated Rib-Eye 1½ cups beer ¼ cup citrus marmalade 1 tablespoon dry mustard 1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar 2 10-ounce rib-eye steaks

Whisk together all marinade ingredients, marinate steaks for 2 hours, pat steak dry and grill 7-8 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Brenda Rabren, Baldwin EMC

26  MARCH 2012

Is your grill as dusty as mine? The best way to keep a grill clean is to keep a wire brush handy to wipe down the grill after every use. After grilling and eating, while the grates are still warm, just brush the grates to remove excess food. This will prevent food from sticking and will make the whole process a lot easier. I don’t know about you but I am ready to get outdoors and grill some food. There are a ton of grill gadgets out there like pizza stones, fish baskets, griddles, kabob sets, and many more. One of the easiest grilling recipes is Italian Foil Chicken. You marinate two bone-in chicken breasts in 1 cup of Italian dressing for several hours. Place each chicken breast in the middle of a square of aluminum foil, then pour the rest of the Italian dressing on top. Seal each foil package and grill for 30 minutes. Open up the packages, then cook the chicken on the grill for 5-10 minutes just until chicken is cooked. This is so hard to mess up it is just that simple. I’ve even added some peppers, onion, squash and other vegetables to the foil packages and that makes it even better. Try it and some of the other recipes in this issue.

Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe.


Eggplant Stacker 1 eggplant Fresh chopped basil Grated Parmesan cheese Balsamic vinegar

Red wine vinegar Olive oil Dried Italian seasoning blend

Slice eggplant, horizontally, into 4 pieces. Brush 1 slice (both sides) with olive oil, splash on vinegars, sprinkle with seasoning and basil. Add parmesan cheese. Brush another slice of eggplant with olive oil, vinegars and spices and lay on top of first slice and toppings. Use 2 toothpicks to hold the pieces together. Repeat above steps with other 2 slices of eggplant. Grill on direct heat ten minutes per side. Remove from grill and top with additional Parmesan cheese. Robbie Vantrease, Cullman EC

Herbed Grilled Corn 1/2 cup butter, softened 2 tablespoons parsley 2 tablespoons chives 1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper 8 ears of corn, cleaned with husks intact

Blend butter with parsley, chives, salt and pepper. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon on each ear; wrap individually in heavyduty foil. Grill for 15-20 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. Allow to cool off a little before husking corn. Denise White, North Alabama EC

Grilled Snapper with Orange-Almond Sauce

6 8-ounce snapper or grouper fillets 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon coarse-grain sea salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 fresh thyme sprigs ½ cup butter ½ cup sliced almonds ½-1 tablespoon orange peel, grated Garnishes: orange wedges, thyme sprigs

Rub fish with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange thyme sprigs on hot charcoal or lava rocks on grill. Coat food rack with vegetable cooking spray. Place on grill over high heat (400-500 degrees). Place fish on rack; grill 5-6 minutes per side or until fish flakes with fork. Melt butter in sauce pan over medium-high heat; add almonds and sauté 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in orange rind. Pour sauce over fish. Garnish. Heather Letson, Joe Wheeler EMC

Alabama Living

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MARCH 2012  27


Cedar-Planked Salmon

1 15x6.5x½-inch cedar grilling plank 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt 1 ½ teaspoon dark brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

¾ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper ¾ teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika ¾ teaspoon chili powder ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 3-pound center-cut salmon fillet, skinned

Immerse and soak plank in water for at least 1 hour, drain. Preheat grill between 350 degrees to 400 degrees (mediumhigh heat). Combine salt and next 7 ingredients, rub over fish. Place plank on grill rack; grill 3 minutes or until lightly charred. Carefully turn plank over, place fish on charred side of plank. Cover grill with lid and grill fish 25 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Cut fish crosswise into slices. Norma Jean Roberts,Tombigbee EC

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp Center-cut bacon Large shrimp (uncooked, peeled and deveined)

Pineapple chunks Blackened Cajun seasoning

Wrap raw bacon around each piece of shrimp. Stick a tooth pick through bacon and shrimp to hold bacon around shrimp. Place pineapple chunk on tip of toothpicks. Sprinkle seasoning all over. Grill 12 minutes per side.The bacon keeps the shrimp from over cooking and adds flavor. Serve with dipping sauce. Dipping sauce: 1 cup mayonnaise 3 tablespoons sugar 3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons melted butter ¾ teaspoon paprika 3⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all ingredients, cover and refrigerate. Robbie Vantrease, Cullman EC

You could win $50! If your recipe is chosen as the cook-of-the-month recipe, we’ll send you a check for $50!

Upcoming recipe themes and deadlines are: May Strawberries March 15 June Seafood April 15 July Picnic Lunch May 15

Please send all submissions to: Recipe Editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Or e-mail to: recipes@areapower. coop. Be sure to include your address, phone number and the name of your cooperative. 28  MARCH 2012

Grilled Pork, Cheddar and Jalapeno Sausage

2 pounds mild ground pork sausage 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese 1 small onion, chopped

2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped 5 garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon pepper

Combine all ingredients until blended. Shape evenly into 12 patties. Prepare fire by piling charcoal on one side of grill, leaving other side empty. Coat grill rack with cooking spray and place on grill. Arrange patties over empty side and grill, covered with grill lid, over high heat (400-500 degrees) 12 minutes on each side or until done. Makes 12 patties. Susan Jones, Baldwin EMC

Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe.


Around Alabama CULLMAN WALKERS “JOIN THE MOVEMENT®” TO CREATE A WORLD FREE OF MS March 24 • Cullman

The Alabama-Mississippi Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society is preparing for Walk MS in Cullman at Heritage Park. Check-in opens at 8 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m., rain or shine. Funds raised will help support services for the more than 4200 people living with MS in Alabama and fund

NORTH March 17 • Boaz,

Alabama Folk Pottery Show Boaz Public Library - 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: Free Contact Boaz Library: 256-593-3000 April 4 – 7 • Fort Payne, Annual Spring

DeKalb County Library Book Sale – Third Street Curb Market at the corner of Gault Ave. S. and Third St. S. Wed. – Fri. from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Contact: DeKalb County Library at 256-845-2671 or llblack@hiwaay.net 13 & 14 • Centre, 14th Annual Cherokee County Home & Garden Show– Gadsden State Cherokee Arena 801 Cedar Bluff Road Fri., Noon - 6 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Contact: 256-927-8455 or visit www.cherokee-chamber.org

CENTRAL March 16 – 17 • Lake Martin,

6th Annual Lake Martin Area Rodeo Charles E. Bailey Sportsplex. A PCA Sanctioned rodeo. Gates open at 5 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m. Admission: Charged Contact: 256-329-6736

31 • Montevallo , The Keith Adair

Annual Farm Day hosted by the Montevallo FFA and Alumni Montevallo High School – 9 a.m. -3 p.m. Admission is free. Contact: Matt Barton at 205-682-6484

SOUTH March 14 • Ozark, 6th Annual Ozark

Crawdad and Music Festival Downtown on the Square Admission: Free Contact: Denise Ellis, 334-774-2618 or civic@ozarkalabama.us 16 –18 • Fairhope, 60th Annual Arts & Crafts Festival Downtown – 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily Admission: Free Contact: Eastern Shores Chamber of Commerce at 251-621-8222 or visit www.eschamber.com 17 • Loxley, City Rhythm Big Band Dance. Loxley Civic Center 7 to 10 p.m. Admission: $5 Contact: Joey at 251-964-7733 or visit www.cityrhythmbb.com 17 • Geneva, 9th Annual St. Judes Trail Ride. Geneva State Forest Lake Suggested $10 donation for St. Judes Children’s Hospital Contact: Tricia 334-222-8079 or Donna Jones 334-493-6730 17 • Summerdale, Saturday for the Park. Summerdale Church of Christ 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Proceeds benefit Caleb’s Field of Dreams at Alabama Gulf Coast Christian Academy

To place an event, mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; e-mail to calendar@ areapower.coop. (Subject Line: Around Alabama) or visit www.alabamaliving.coop. Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations.

research to find a cure for this chronic disease of the central nervous system. Participants will have one, two and three-mile route options to choose from. Walk MS gathers those in the community who care about MS, supports research and helps people with MS move their lives forward. After the walk, the cele17 & 18 • Tensaw, Commemorating

the War of 1812. Fort Mims 9 a.m. - 2 p.m Living history.; dinner/theatre 3:30 p.m. with seated dinner immediately following – reservations required Admission: $5 daily; Dinner/Theatre $50 Contact: Claudia Campbell, 251-533-9024/ North Baldwin Chamber, 251-937-5665 24 • Millry, Millry Catfish Festival Millry State Lake 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Singer/songwriter Donnie Mills and other local talent Contact: Millry Town Hall at 251-846-2698 30 – April 7 • Bradley, 15th Annual Dogwood Trail Ride Conecuh national forest No registration fees. Primitive camping, portable rest rooms and water for the horses will be provided. Look for the blue flags on the trails Contact: Buddy Bradley, director at 251-238-1355 or ngr1423@aol.Com NO DOGS – NO FOUR WHEELERS

bration will continue at Heritage Park with refreshments,awards, announcements, and entertainment. For additional information, visit www.walkMS.org or call the Alabama-Mississippi Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at 800- FIGHT MS.

April 7 • Union Springs,

Wehle Spring Heritage Day Festival 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. Admission: Free Contact: 334-775-7448 14 • Gulf Shores, 5th Annual Confederate Garrison Living History Day Fort Morgan – 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. State Historic Site, 51 Hwy 180 West Admission: small charge Contact: Fort Morgan Museum at 251-540-7172 or ftmorganprograms@gmail.com 14 • Jackson, CCARC’s 14th Annual “Smokin’ in the Pines” Spring Jubilee. Saturday events include the backyard cook-off competition, 5K run and fun walk, Southern Cruisers charity ride, live entertainment, dog show, children’s games and play area, food vendors, cake walk, art walk, and silent auction. For more information visit www.clarkearc.com, or call Terry Pezent at 251-246-3000.

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MARCH 2012  29


Gary Finch Outdoors

The ‘Art’ of Turkey Hunting Getting the bird as close as possible is a forgotten art

By Steve Layton and Gary Finch

I

don’t know how it happened, or exactly when, but somehow the sport of turkey hunting took on some changes. Some of these changes and inventions have advanced the sport while others seem to ring hollow in comparison to what our grandfather’s considered to be the “art” of turkey hunting. It was still an art, but already changing, when I entered the sport some 30plus years ago. All of the local men I knew who hunted turkeys in those days had gray or thinning hair. They earned that appearance by losing months and years of sleep while chasing these frustrating birds. Their calls were homemade contraptions created from the materials at hand. There were crudely made snuff can calls, bent metal yelpers, along with handcarved, rubber-banded box calls or simple slate calls. Many of these hunters could call a gobbler just as well with their voice. If they happened to need an additional call, they could quickly improvise by stretching a blade of grass between two fingers in order to blow an instant yelp. The majority of them did very little calling, from what I could ever hear. What made them successful at this highly specialized hunting sport was knowledge – not the bulging backpack of gadgets and calls that I now feel I have to carry into the woods. Like other modern day hunters, I am guilty of having fallen under the spell of “newer is better.” From my early mentors, I learned the best way to call a turkey, is to know and be a turkey. That takes hours of observation while listening, and then observing, then listening some more. The most important lesson they offered was: “It’s hard

to learn anything when you’re the one doing all the talking.” For some reason, that statement struck hard, and I took to heart that comment was directed at me. Part of losing the “art” of turkey hunting has been our focusing on the finish, rather than appreciating the process. All hunters know how to reproduce the common sounds used to call turkeys. The yelp, the cluck and the cackle number among the calls that are practiced prior to the season. But it’s the small talk that turkeys exchange in their daily routine that builds confidence or settles their apprehension about a situation. It’s the barely audible purrs and clucks of feeding and traveling turkeys that tell every move they are making. “Here’s a seed, I’m scratching over here, Oh, a grasshopper!” It’s a continuous and running conversation among the drove that most people will never hear. Overcalling is not our only vice. Distance is the other. In our efforts to use tighter chokes, better optics, and longer shooting shells, the trade off (and our loss) has been the excitement and anticipation of a close hunt. By close, I mean anything inside 25 steps – as in “steps,” not paces or yards. There is nothing that compares to calling a strutting gobbler to the toes of your shoes before taking the shot. You can see his eyes blink as the low frequency sounds of his strutting and drumming vibrate your clothing, hair and face mask. Ask anyone who has done it, and they will have to tell you their hunting story while clutching their chest. While the act of taking the shot adds punctuation to the end of a hunt, it’s getting that bird as close as possible that becomes the art.

Gary Finch is host of television show ‘Gary Finch Outdoors.’ Visit www. garyfinchoutdoors.com

30  MARCH 2012

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The ability to get close enough to hear those subtle conversations among turkeys and to learn their body language is a wealth of information. It is information that can be filed and used for future hunts. Knowing when to move, when to call, when to shut-up, and when to shoot are all pretty important factors in turkey hunting. Rather than forcing each act, it pays to observe the birds for their clues of when each act can be attempted.

Before entering the woods for your next turkey hunt or scouting trip, make a promise to start with a new canvas and a clean palette. Take in what you see and hear without attempting to jump to the end. Allow each turkey hunt to come alive and become a new opportunity to learn more about the art you are honoring and practicing. Each and every one is a masterpiece. A

Tables indicate peak fish and game feeding and migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour before and an hour after. Minor peaks, half-hour before and after. Adjusted for daylight savings time. a.m. p.m. Minor Major Minor Major

FEB 16 8:46 4:31 1:01 9:16 17 9:46 5:01 2:31 10:01 18 10:31 5:16 3:31 10:46 19 11:01 5:46 4:31 11:16 20 11:31 6:01 5:01 11:46 21 - - 6:31 12:01 5:46 22 6:46 12:16 12:46 6:31 23 7:01 12:46 7:01 1:16 24 7:16 1:16 7:46 1:46 25 1:31 7:46 8:31 2:16 26 1:46 8:01 9:16 2:46 27 2:01 8:16 10:31 3:46 28 2:16 8:31 - - 4:46 29 - - 9:01 - - 6:16 MAR. 1 - - 09:46 - - 07:46 2 9:01 4:31 12:31 8:46 3 9:46 4:31 2:16 9:31 4 10:16 4:46 3:16 10:16 5 10:46 5:01 4:16 10:46 6 11:16 5:31 5:01 11:31 7 11:46 5:46 - - 5:46 8 6:16 12:01 6:31 12:16 9 12:31 6:31 7:31 1:01 10 1:16 7:01 8:16 1:46 11 1:46 7:31 9:31 2:31 12 2:31 8:01 11:01 3:31 13 3:01 8:31 - - 4:31 14 1:16 9:16 - - 6:01 15 10:46 3:01 - - 7:46 16 9:01 3:46 1:01 8:46 17 9:46 4:16 2:46 9:46 18 10:16 4:31 3:46 10:16 19 10:46 5:01 4:31 11:01 20 11:16 5:16 5:16 11:31 21 5:31 11:46 5:46 11:46 22 - - 5:46 6:31 12:16 23 12:16 6:16 7:01 12:31 24 12:46 6:31 7:46 1:01 25 1:01 6:46 8:16 1:31 26 1:31 7:01 9:16 2:16 27 1:46 7:16 10:16 3:01 28 2:01 7:46 - - 3:46 29 12:16 8:01 - - 5:01 30 8:31 2:46 - - 6:31 31 8:46 3:01 12:01 7:46

Alabama Living

MARCH 2012  31


Alabama Armadillos These ‘Hoover Hogs’ can walk under water, but can’t seem to escape 18-wheelers

By Emmett Burnett

‘In the animal kingdom, armadillos don’t win I.Q. contests.’ 32  MARCH 2012

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1945:

World War II ends, a new house costs $4,000, and the first armadillo was spotted in Alabama. And since then we’ve asked: “Why did the chicken cross the road? To show the armadillo it can be done.” Today houses no longer cost $4,000 dollars, and armadillos still can’t cross the road. Since the first Alabama sighting 56 years ago in Mobile, the armadillo has spread throughout the state. And believe it or not, the creature synonymous with “road kill” is thriving. “When I came to Auburn 22 years ago we never saw them here,” says Dr. Jim Armstrong, a professor at Auburn University’s school of forestry and wildlife sciences. “Today Lee County is full of them, just like most of the state.” Everyone has seen an armadillo, usually upside down on the highway. It’s related to the anteater, with the head of a long-nosed pig and a rat-like tail, fully encased in armor. Basically, the armadillo is 12 to 20 pounds of four-footed ugly. But do we really know the animal? “People may not know the armadillo is a good swimmer,” says Armstrong. “It can also hold its breath up to 6 minutes and walk underwater on the bottom of a creek bed.” It can easily and safely walk underwaAlabama Living

ter, but not across a highway. Ironically their instinctive defense mechanism does them in. “When an armadillo is frightened it springs straight up, as high as 5 feet,” says Armstrong. “The leaping action is good for escaping a coyote’s jaws, but not an 18 wheeler’s bumper.” Other animals on a road may have a survival chance by simply not moving when a vehicle runs over it. If the creature is small enough the car passes over without contact. But before a speeding motorist can zip above an armadillo, the little guy panics, jumps straight up, and is hammered. As Dr. Armstrong notes, “In the animal kingdom, armadillos don’t win I.Q. contests.” But despite never ending battles with highway traffic, Dasypus novemcinctus is a survivor. The mother always births a litter of four babies, same sex, identical quadruplets. They grow up searching for food nonstop, primarily at night, but occasionally during daylight hours. Their natural lifespan is three to four years. There are 20 species of armadillo in the world. All live in Latin America except one, (ours) the nine-banded, which is so named for the nine bands of armor sections from head to backside. Its journey to your flowerbed started 3 million years ago. Migrating from what is now South America into North America

and from Texas to Alabama, the turtle gone horribly wrong sought a better life through grub worms. Armadillos eat invertebrates like earthworms, grubs, crickets and other underground critters, which they must dig for with shovel-like clawed paws. Unfortunately the means justifies the end, meaning in digging for food, your petunias are collateral damage. “Most people consider it to be a slow lumbering sloth like animal,” says Armstrong. “But it can run at a surprising clip. And I don’t advise this but if you ever catch one, hold it away from you by the tail. Its claws are razor sharp and can cut you to ribbons. It won’t use them as defensive weapons, but you can be injured as it kicks, trying to get away.” And supposedly it taste like pork. During the Great Depression, armadillos were called “Hoover Hogs,” served as a poor man’s ham and named for President Herbert Hoover. “I’ve eaten it before,” the professor notes, recalling his meal of “possum on the half shell.” “It was okay but didn’t make me want to gather road kill for dinner.” Armadillo can be barbecued or cooked very slowly in a slow cooker. But a warning before eating: Some studies suggest handling armadillos can cause leprosy. Bon Appetit. A MARCH 2012  33


Safe @ Home

Ladder Safety A fall from a ladder can be disabling By Michael Kelley and James Thomas

Climb and stand on a ladder with your feet in the center of the steps or rungs. Do not

overreach from a ladder, or lean too far to one side.

Michael Kelley and James Thomas are managers of Safety & Loss Control for the Alabama Rural Electric Association.

34  MARCH 2012

I

was recently reminded about the importance of ladder safety after hearing about an injury a friend sustained while hanging Christmas lights. He fell down the entire length of the ladder and injured the base of his skull. Our hopes and prayers continue for him and his family. A fall from a ladder can disable a person for the rest of his life. Or it can injure a person so severely that his earning power is cut off for a long time. Neither of these are happy prospects. They can be avoided by working safely on and around ladders. Ladder safety begins with the selection of the proper ladder for the job and includes inspection, setup, proper climbing and standing, proper use, care and storage. This combination of safe equipment and its safe use can eliminate most ladder accidents. Use the proper size ladder for the job. The average person will generally work most comfortably at his shoulder level, which is about five feet above where he stands. Because a person must stand at least two feet from the top of a ladder, the maximum working height would be about three feet above the top of the ladder. For example, a five-foot stepladder would give an effective working height of eight feet, or five feet plus three feet. When using straight or extension ladders, a person stands three feet from the top, which gives

an effective working height of two feet above the ladder top. Always check a wooden ladder for cracks and splits, and check that steps or rungs are tight and secure. Test movable parts to see that they operate without binding or without too much free play. Metal and fiberglass ladders should be checked for bends and breaks. You should never use a damaged ladder. To properly set up a ladder, place ladder feet firmly and evenly on the ground or floor. Make sure the ladder is sitting straight and secure before climbing it. If one foot sits in a low spot, build up the surface with firm material. Do not try to make a ladder reach farther by setting it on boxes, barrels, bricks, blocks or other unstable bases. Use the fourto-one rule for extension ladders: For each four feet of distance between the ground and the upper point of contact (such as the wall or roof), move the base of the ladder out one foot. Never set up or use a ladder in a high wind, especially a lightweight metal or fiberglass type. Also, do not use ladders on ice or snow unless absolutely necessary. If you must, use spike or spur-type safety shoes on the ladder feet and be sure they are gripping properly before climbing. Always face a ladder when climbing up or down, using both hands in order to maintain a secure grip on the rails or rungs. Keep the steps and rungs of ladders free of Continued on Page 36

Send your questions to: Home Rules Alabama Living 340 TechnaCenter Dr. Montgomery, AL 36117 334-215-2732

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Alabama Living

MARCH 2012  35


Continued from Page 22

Continued from Page 34

A ‘floodgate’

grease, oil, wet paint, mud, snow, ice, paper and other slippery materials, and clean such debris off your shoes before climbing a ladder. Never carry heavy or bulky loads up a ladder. Climb up first, and then pull up the material with a rope. Climb and stand on a ladder with your feet in the center of the steps or rungs. Do not overreach from a ladder, or lean too far to one side. Overreaching is probably the most common cause of falls from ladders. A good rule is to always keep your belt buckle inside the rails of a ladder. Work as far as you can reach comfortably and safely, then move the ladder to a new position. Metal ladders should never be used around exposed electrical wiring. Ladders should not be used as a horizontal platform, plank, scaffold or material hoist. Do not leave tools or materials on top of ladders. If they fall

You can conceptualize this as a floodgate. At normal voltages, the gate is closed, preventing leaks. But if the voltage gets too high, the gate opens, allowing the excess damaging current to pass to ground, protecting the equipment. If the components (including MOVs) in a surge suppressor are too small, they can’t handle the surge, and they fail. Using larger components, rated to handle more Joules (a measure of energy), allows the suppressor to safely dissipate a larger surge. When comparing surge suppressors, a higher number is better for the total energy dissipation. “Clamping voltage” is the voltage that is required for the “floodgate” to open – for the MOV to conduct electricity. A lower number for this is usually better. Even though the surge suppressor protects your electronics, a large surge may burn out the MOVs. Many models have a light on them to indicate if it is still functioning. Check it regularly and especially after a thunderstorm. On the one I use at my home, the light comes on only when the unit has been damaged by a surge and needs to be replaced.

on you, you can be hurt. Do not try to move a ladder while you are on it by rocking, jogging or pushing it away from a supporting wall. And if you get sick, dizzy or panicky while on a ladder, do not try to climb down in a hurry. Instead, wait, and drape your arms around the rungs; rest your head against the ladder until you feel better. Then climb down slowly and carefully. Allow only one person at a time on a ladder unless the ladder is specifically designed for two people. And be cautious about homemade ladders. You should never use ladders made by fastening cleats across a single narrow rail, post or pole. Ladders should also be properly maintained and stored on racks, which give them proper support when not in use. By following these steps and precautions for ladder safety, you can help ensure that you maintain personal safety and avoid accidents. A

Multiple paths for surges

It’s also important to note that many electronic devices like computers and entertainment systems have multiple connections, including satellite or cable, phone, or network, in addition to the power connection. Any of these can serve as a path for a surge to enter the device and cause damage. Surge suppression installed on the power line doesn’t guarantee protection. For the most sensitive electronic devices, also use point-of-use surge suppressors for extra protection. They are not expensive and make it convenient to completely switch off the power to save electricity when the device is not being used. When purchasing one of these surge suppressors, look for models that are tested for compliance with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Standard 1449, or ask your local electric cooperative for advice. A

36  MARCH 2012

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38  MARCH 2012

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GULF SHORES CONDO - 2BR/1BA AFFORDABLE RATES & BEACHFRONT - Call (256-507-1901) or email brtlyn@ yahoo.com

Camping / Hunting / Fishing CAMP IN THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS – Maggie Valley, NC – WWW.TRAILSENDRV-PARK.COM, (828)421-5295.

Real Estate Sales/Rentals GULF SHORES CONDO - $49,900, close to everything. Go to www. PeteOnTheBeach.com, click on Colony Club – (251)948-8008 NORTHERN COOSA COUNTY – 6,000SQFT HOME, 55 ACRES partially fenced, nice lake – 1,600sqft shop / barn. Great potential for horse farm. Many Extras. (256)249-9187 WE PURCHASE SELLER FINANCED NOTES, Trust Deeds, Contracts for Deed, Commercial / Business Notes and more, Nationwide! Call (256)6381930 or (256)601-8146 MOUNTAIN TOP HOME – MENTONE, AL – 2BR / 2BA on 13.3 secluded acres overlooking 5 acre lake. Beautiful View - $185,000 – (256)634-8017

BAY MINETTE, AL – 5 BEDROOM MOBILE HOME on 2 acres of land, 45 minutes from Gulf Shores with 1 bedroom apartment in the back – (251)937-6536

Travel CARIBBEAN CRUISES AT THE LOWEST PRICE – (256)974-0500 or (800)726-0954

Musical Notes PIANOS TUNED, REPAIRED, REFINISHED - Box 171, Coy, AL 36435 – (334)337-4503 PLAY GOSPEL SONGS BY EAR - 10 lessons $12.95. “LEARN GOSPEL MUSIC”. Chording, runs, fills - $12.95 Both $24. Davidsons, 6727AR Metcalf, Shawnee Missions, Kansas 66204 – (913)262-4982

Education BECOME AN ORDAINED MINISTER correspondence study. Founded in 1988. Free info. Ministers for Christ Outreach, PMB 767, 6630 West Cactus B-107, Glendale, Arizona 85304. http://www.ordination.org

FREE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE – write to 23600 Alabama Highway 24, Trinity, AL, 35673

Critters CHIHUAHUA PUPPIES. TINY, registered, guaranteed healthy, raised indoors in loving home, vet records and references. (256)796-2893 ADORABLE AKC YORKY PUPPIES – EXCELLENT BLOOD LINES – (334)301-1120, (334)537-4242, bnorman@mon-cre.net

Fruits / Nuts / Berries GROW MUSCADINES AND BLACKBERRIES , half dollar size – We offer over 200 varieties of Fruit and Nut Trees plus Vines and Berry Plants . Free color catalog. 1-800-7330324. Ison’s Nursery, P.O. Box 190, Brooks, GA 30205 Since 1934 www. isons.com AWESOME EVERGREEN FLOWERING NOW PERINNIAL – Helleborous seedilings $1 each – emptynestantique@gmail.com or (256)245-6029 OLD TIMEY WHITE AND YELLOW self pollinating SEED corn – (334)886-2925

How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace

Closing Deadlines (in our office): May 2012 – deadline - March 25 June 2012 – deadline - April 2012 July 2012 – deadline - May 25

-Ads are $1.65 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis -Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each -Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to hdutton@areapower.com or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing. -We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 – Attn: Classifieds.

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Market Place

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Our Sources Say

Who Wants To be Greek? If great companies like Sears and Kodak can fail, what about great countries or societies? How could the United States fail?

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

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ast month I talked about my memories of childhood Christmases, of studying the toy section of the Sears catalog for hours, and of the Christmas morning pictures with Mom’s Kodak camera. Those are all pleasant memories based in the “good ol’ days.” Why did Sears, Kodak and others fail? I don’t have all the answers, but I expect they failed to keep up with what people wanted, failed to adopt new innovation, allowed costs to get out of hand and, generally, became too soft and complacent. If great companies like Sears and Kodak can fail, what about great countries or societies? The United States is a juggernaut in innovation, production, military might, agriculture and many other things. How could the United States fail? Didn’t the Romans and Greeks once rule the world, or at least dictate what happened in the world, much like the United States today? At one time, being Greek was so cool that Alexander the Great, a Macedonian king of Greek descent, conquered and ruled most of the known world in the name of Greece. At that time, Greeks were highly educated, had advanced civilizations, perfected warfare and were the leaders of world trade. We know the Romans later conquered and ruled the world. The Bible tells of Roman governments ruling the entire Mediterranean area and all subjects paying tribute (taxes) to Rome. A well-used saying is “All roads lead to Rome.” If these societies were so powerful and advanced, what went wrong? The Western Roman Empire (Italy) was eventually weakened by the Barbarians and the Huns, warlike and uneducated people from central Europe with a strong desire for a better, easier and more sophisticated way of life like the Romans. They wanted it so much

they just took it from the Romans. The Eastern Roman Empire (Constantinople) enjoyed a longer reign, but was also eventually overrun by other people seeking their affluence, culture and influence. The people of the Western Roman Empire were once the most educated and sophisticated people in the world. Today it is the Middle East. Greece became too educated and sophisticated to fight the tough wars and eventually was over-run by lesser societies that wanted their affluence, knowledge and way of life. Other than being conquered by outsiders, what changed in the Roman and Greek societies that led to their downfalls? Apparently, they lost the will to do the things necessary to maintain an empire. The Greeks became obsessed with culture, education and entertainment. All of which brings us to the United States today. We are the strongest, smartest, most productive and wealthiest society on the planet. Will we always be? History tells us we will not. When will we fall? What will be the reasons for our fall? Are we too soft or too smart to work for a living when the government will provide us one? Are we too busy following Facebook to fight for our society when the Barbarians are at our door? These are obviously rhetorical questions, but questions we should ask ourselves nevertheless. After all, who wants to be Greek these days? I hope you all have a great month.A

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Alabama Snapshots 1

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Spring flowers 3

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Submit Your Images! MAY THEME: “My

old car”

SEND COLOR PHOTOS WITH A LARGE SELF ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE TO:

Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL, 36124. RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. DEADLINE FOR: March 31

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1. Pink flower submitted by Jamie Sudduth, Houston 2. Spring flowers submitted by Elaine McIntyre, Jackson 3. “ S u n f l o w e r s w e e t h e a r t ” Delaney Hines submitted by Leslie Hines, Wetumpka 4. Frog and daylily bloom submitted by Mrs. Alton Richburg, Goshen

5. Bloomin’ orange submitted by Vicki Dunton, Ralph 6. Clematis submitted by Robert Hill, Montgomery 7. Daisy submitted by Dawn Kampmeyer, Arab

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Alabama Living Dixie March 2012