Colleges, Sheep and Flaming Squirrels

Posted: October 24, 2010 in education, environment
Tags: , , , ,

I work on a college campus and we have been trying to make some gains on becoming a “greener” campus and do things more sustainably.  This has included doing such things as changing out light fixtures, using some of our grey water for irrigation, and even entering in a Power Purchase Agreement so that we can add 1.8MW of solar onto two of our campuses.  Our facilities folks have been absolutely dynamite in taking a lead on this issue and made a very popular decision earlier during the past Summer Session, they brought in sheep.  They contracted with a sheep herder to bring the sheep in to munch down the underbrush and wild grasses that had become overgrown along the edges of our campus.  The sheep were quite the hit, not nearly as much of a hit as their “guard” lama, but a big hit none-the- less with people going out on walks to visit the sheep.  So, all in all, a sustainable and good idea with lots of community buy-in, pretty much a perfect move. 

However the true beauty of this decision was not fully realized until a week or so ago.  I have always found it amazing that birds and squirrels can dance along and sit on power lines without getting electrocuted.  This is of course because in touching only one wire and nothing else doesn’t allow current to ground out.  For a deeper discussion, although one with a cartoon and not real deep, you can click on the link below:

http://www.word-detective.com/howcome/birdsonwires.html

As mentioned in the link, a squirrel can run across the wire and if the squirrel jumps from the wire to the transformer it’s fine, however, if the squirrel is in contact with both the wire and the transformer at the same time, the electricity completes its trip to the ground and ZAP!  Well, sadly, on our campus a week or so ago a squirrel made this simple error and was so thoroughly zapped that his cute little grey fur burst into flames as he tumbled from the sky, right into the brush area of our campus.  However, the goats had done their job and there was no tall, dry brush to catch on fire averting potentially a huge disaster on our campus.  So here’s to colleges, goats and flaming squirrels.

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