Fortunate for so many reasons


Steve Freese, President and CEO

With the changing seasons and fall upon us, we’re harvesting the last garden vegetables and preparing for the farm crop harvest to reach full swing. We’re fortunate.

In September we watched our televisions in disbelief at the power of nature when hurricanes hit Texas and Florida, affecting so many people’s lives. In Florida alone more than 15 million lost electricity. In some cases it took weeks to restore power. After 12 years without a major U.S. hurricane, the good fortune ran out.

But good fortune takes many forms. For instance, 18 Wisconsin electric cooperatives sent crews to help restore power in Florida.

Imagine if we had to live a couple of weeks without electricity. How would we cope with the inconvenience? Imagine canning your fruits and vegetables without electricity as people did in rural Wisconsin prior to 1936. Think of the additional time it would take. I remember a phrase my grandma always used: “Now we’re cookin’ with gas.” She was so relieved to have gas in the kitchen because of the heat the old wood stove created just preparing a simple nightly supper, let alone canning the garden harvest. But as soon as the farm was hooked up to electricity the gas stove left and a brand new electric stove went in. What a life-changing experience! She kept the wood stove in the summer kitchen but it was never used after electricity arrived.

What would life be like if we lost power for a couple of weeks? What would you have to do to milk a herd or even feed cows without electricity? How much longer would the day be without the convenience of turning a few switches to deliver feed or operate the milking parlor?

Imagine if you couldn’t charge an electric car or turn on a computer or even watch Netflix.

As I take pride in our volunteers who helped out in Florida, I watch in awe how our member electric cooperatives provide reliable electricity every day. Yes, storms take out our service as well, but as cooperatives we’re quick to get power restored and if the damage is too great for the local co-op to quickly repair, it calls in help from adjoining cooperatives. That call for help has been answered 11 times so far this year.

Without that kind of unselfish cooperation, even simple things can be difficult.

For instance, simple things like canning cinnamon pickles with those really big cucumbers at the end of the garden season. So I’ll leave you with a great family recipe for cinnamon pickles and as you make them, think about your grandmother canning them on a wood stove the way mine would have. They’re bright red when they’re finished and perfect for serving at Christmas.