March 2013
Howle's Hints

Forget the Politics - Get Outside and Use Your Woods Wisdom Skills

 


Keeping both eyes open as you shoot will have you on target quicker.

"Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself." Mark Twain

Get ready to shed the heavy winter coat for something lighter because March is giving us the signal that spring is not far away. The cold weather may have resulted in us spending more nights than we should in front of the 24-hour news feed. Watching the political leaders of this country try to make decisions affecting the direction of the country and the future of our children and grandchildren can be a frustrating experience because there’s not a reader out there who could run his or her farm in a similar manner and stay in business for long.

March is a great time to forget all the politics and enjoy a crisp, morning turkey hunt. Few things create as much excitement as hearing a thundering gobble echo through the chilled, spring woods. The mornings start cold, but, once the sun comes up and warms the body, you might find yourself in a comfortable doze at the base of a shoulder-width tree.

Packing a Pillow

If you are going on a long hike, hunt, or fun, family outing involving sleeping on the ground or in a tent, a pillow helps you sleep better. The only problem with the pillow is it takes up too much room in your day pack or backpack. To remedy this, I buy the two gallon Ziploc bags. I fill one Ziploc bag three quarters of the way full with air. I then stuff this bag into a second, two-gallon freezer bag to ensure against leaking. Finally, wrap your fleece jacket around the pillow for a sound night’s rest. The next morning, you have two 2-gallon bags for storing items for the trek back to civilization.

 


A prescribed burn is an effective way to increase the wildlife habitat of your property.

Cunning Coyote Shot

Keeping the coyote population under control is a must if you are raising livestock. Few things tempt a coyote more than a newborn calf or young goat. Keeping your rifle handy this time of year is essential if you are going to be able to get a shot at the wily varmints. If your rifle has a scope, an easy way to get on target quickly is to keep both eyes open as you find the animal in the cross hairs. With both eyes open, you increase your peripheral vision allowing you to find the target fast.

Your dominant eye should be the one looking into the scope. To find which eye is your dominant eye, you can make an "ok" sign with your thumb and forefinger extended at arm’s length. Center a distant object in the circle with both eyes open, then, close each eye separately. The eye keeping the object in the center of the "ok" sign is the dominant eye.

Friendly Fire

A prescribed burn can be your most cost-effective resource for enhancing habitat on your farm in wooded areas. Once the burn has taken place, it’s amazing to see how much new, green forage appears in the spring. The fire gets rid of excess leaf litter, opening up the ground for seed-to-soil contact for native plant germination.

 


Cleaning out a natural spring can draw wildlife to the spot.

This creates ideal forage and bugging areas for young poults. Don’t worry about a prescribed fire causing turkeys to leave the area; many wildlife biologists I’ve talked to say they’ve seen turkeys crossing over to the still smoldering burned areas to eat charred seeds and bugs. We love a good charbroiled steak; I guess the turkeys like their bugs charbroiled as well.

Spring Cleaning

Robert Frost wrote a poem called "The Pasture." In this poem he talks about cleaning out the pasture spring:

"I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;

I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away

(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):

I sha’n’t be gone long. You come too."

While he’s waiting for the water to clear, it can also be inferred the speaker is clearing his mind as well. If you have a spring on your property that’s clogged with mud and debris, simply raking or shoveling it out will allow clean water to collect, and all wildlife needs a fair amount of water. Once you’ve cleaned the spring, you may find lots of wildlife using this watering hole, and it makes a great spot for photography.


WD-40 can remove tar and bug splatters from the front of the truck.

 

WD-40

You may have used WD-40 to loosen rusted bolts or lubricate a hay baler chain, but it also has other uses around the farm. WD-40 will clean grease from a rubber hose, clean tar splatters from the sides of your truck, and remove bug splatters from the hood and front bumper. In addition, you can spray WD-40 on the tines of your garden digger and it will prevent rust and help keep grass and debris from grabbing and wrapping around the tines.

Egg Timer

If you raise your own chickens for the eggs and maybe forgot to put the date on them, an easy way to see if the eggs are too old to eat is by putting them in water. An egg that is fresh will lie on its side at the bottom of the water. If the egg balances on the smallest tip or floats, it’s time to throw it away. Eggs will usually balance or float when they are older than three weeks.

This March, forget the politics and plan a few fun outdoor activities. The kids will love it, and you can demonstrate how to use your woods wisdom skills.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.