December 2015
Howle's Hints

A Time for Reflection

On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ with prayer, feasting and great merriment. But, most of all, we experience it in our hearts. For more than just a day, Christmas is a state of mind. It is found throughout the year whenever faith overcomes doubt, hope conquers despair, and love triumphs over hate. It is present when men of any creed bring love and understanding to the hearts of their fellow man. The feeling is seen in the wondrous faces of children and in the hopeful eyes of the aged. It overflows the hearts of cheerful givers and the souls.

– Franklin Roosevelt, Christmas Message 1944

America during 1944 was vastly different than what we see today economically, politically and spiritually. In June 1944, America took part in the D-Day invasion where American and allied troops crossed the English Channel into Normandy signaling the end of the war in Europe. People throughout the United States were encouraged to grow victory gardens to help ease the food shortage. The president spoke openly about his faith in and reliance on God. The average cost of a new house was $3,450 and the average wage was $2,400 per year. A gallon of gas was 15 cents and a loaf of bread was 10.

  Chickens love to eat green forage through the winter. Cool-season annuals mixed with cool-season clovers grow well into the winter.

December should be a time of reflection. This is the month when we examine the past year for profitability, progress and personal growth, but it’s also a time for us to reflect on our spiritual progress as individuals and as a country. Remain optimistic this December, and center your desires on personal, spiritual growth.

Forage for the Fowl

Chickens are one of the easiest farm animals to upkeep once they are grown. Whether you have free-range or fenced-in birds, they love to eat greenery throughout the winter. The following are forage varieties that will grow through the winter to provide your chickens with plenty of healthy greenery.

The winter annuals such as ryegrass, wheat and oats continue to grow over the course of winter providing healthy forage. Legumes such as white and red clover not only fix nitrogen for the companion grasses but they help build your soil. A mixture of cool-season grasses and legumes is good for all farm livestock through the winter.

Savor the Stockpile

This is the time of year when those stockpiled fields of fescue really come in handy. Since feeding hay and stored feed during the winter months is the most expensive part of feeding livestock throughout the year, it make sense to keep some forage available for cattle if your pasture size, rainfall amounts and fertilizer applications have been met.

Whether you are grazing stockpiled fescue through strip grazing or timed grazing, the important fact to remember is to keep the cows from grazing fescue below 3 inches. Fortunately, the leaves of fescue will continue to grow in the cool season especially if the temperatures stay above 45 degrees. It’s important to leave tall fescue above 3 inches going into warm weather to preserve stand persistence.

A plastic 55-gallon drum makes an ideal kennel for your dogs.  

Versatile Plastic Drums

Plastic drums have many practical uses around the farm. They can be used to store rainwater or gutter runoff for watering your garden during drought times. They can be used to carry water to livestock by installing a spigot at the base for attaching to a hose. They make airtight containers for storing grain such as corn.

The plastic drums have many other farm uses as well. They make ideal receptacles for holding salt mineral for the cow herd.

Simply suspend the barrel from a sturdy tree limb with a rope or chain.

The drums also make ideal doghouses and can be suspended off the ground with a couple of I-bolts and lengths of chain.

  Before you complete construction of your shooting house, bring your chair and rifle to make sure the shooting portholes are at the right height for adult and youth shooters.

Test Shoot

This winter might find you with some extra time on your hands to build a shooting house. This is a great way to get the youth involved in hunting in a comfortable environment. If a deer does come by, you want to be able to shoot safely and with easy maneuverability.

The best way to do this is to perform a test shoot in your shooting house before construction is complete. First, sit in the chair you will use in the shooting house. Next, create the shooting portholes at the right height off the ground so you can shoot from a sitting position. Keep in mind the height of younger shooters when constructing your shooting porthole and adjust the height accordingly during construction.

Our great country is facing many threats from around the globe, on the borders and on our own soil. If we could convince our national leaders to rely more on God’s wisdom and less on their own self-serving agendas, we would see America’s greatness return. Meanwhile, we face the empty philosophy of, "Hey, we got this. We’re gonna take care of everything you need. Just trust us." This December, as you review the events of the year, put your trust in God instead of the government and honor Christ in Christmas.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.