November 2016
Howle's Hints

Get a Grip

"I don’t own a cellphone. I’ve never turned on a computer in my life."
~ Phil Robertson, "Duck Dynasty"


Every year, when November rolls around, that primal urge to gather meat from the woods comes on strong. I think about how much time has been spent on computers and smartphones, and the best antidote for breaking free from the technological chains is a day spent hunting deer. If you are fortunate enough to harvest a buck or doe, the work begins after you squeeze the trigger or release the arrow.

Whether you are hunting or farming, being physically fit and strong is a bonus when there’s hard work to be done, and today’s technology has, according to research, weakened men. I recently read an article stating that, even though today’s men think playing video games are strengthening their hands, they are wrong.


Technologically Tender

In the article by Elizabeth Moore, the researchers reported in the Journal of Hand Therapy, "Among 237 healthy Millennials studied between the ages of 20 and 34, men today are significantly weaker than their counterparts of the 1980s. Specifically, men could squeeze with 120 pounds of force in 1985 and only 95 pounds today." The reason given for the weaker hand strength, the research stated, is that today’s men are less handy, and there are fewer manual labor jobs. In addition, much of today’s hand use is spent on tapping computer keys, swiping screens and sending rapid thumb texts. Hand strength was the measurement because, as the article stated, "Hand strength is indicative of overall body strength, and weaker hands have been linked to anything from heart disease and stroke to arthritis."


Get a Grip

So what’s a person to do if they want to increase their grip strength? First, put down the phones and computers. If you are one of those in the current fad of capturing Pokémon and collecting their droppings (or whatever it is they do?), let that go for a while. Second, when your phone is put away, you will see all kinds of people who you didn’t know existed before. Look them in the eye and shake their hand. That increases grip strength. Don’t worry about political correctness. It is perfectly acceptable to give a firm handshake to any gender whether it be man, woman or (?).


Abigail Howle works on her grip by removing T-posts from an old fence line.


If you truly want to strengthen your grip, move to a farm. Once you get to the farm, follow this simple 10-step regimen for a strong hand grip: 1) Milk a cow, 2) Frame out a barn with a hammer, 3) Dig a drain ditch with a mattock, 4) Hoe through all the rows in your garden, 5) Build a barbed wire fence, 6) Load square bales of hay, 7) Replace a radiator on your tractor, 8) Pull a calf out of a cow, 9) Replace the starter on your farm truck with the Chinese-made tools you bought at Wal-Mart, and 10) Before you go to bed at night, play for an hour on a 12-string guitar.


Pull the Post

One of the handiest tools you can use around the farm is a T-post puller. This simple, leverage device makes it easy to remove metal T-posts you would use for rotational grazing cross-fencing, perimeter fencing around your garden or any time you need to quickly remove T-posts. I’ve used T-posts for the posts on a volleyball net frame where the volleyball posts will slide easily over the T-posts. Also, my son is the kicker on his football team. Two metal T-posts were used to support a homemade, PVC H-style field goal. With the post puller, it’s easy to remove the T-posts, allowing you to move the field goal.


Woods Wisdom

This November, deer season will be in full swing. If you are going to check your fence lines, hike through the woods or just enjoy being in the outdoors, stay safe by wearing a blaze-orange hat or cap. Deer hunters are taught early on to identify the target and what’s beyond before squeezing the trigger, but this gives you extra security. For your part, take that extra precaution by making yourself more visible in the woods. Aside from the visibility factor during hunting season, if you are wearing blaze orange and get injured or pass out in the woods, having that bright-orange color on your person helps you stand out so people can see you.

By the way, don’t worry about the color orange making you stand out with deer. Deer search for patterns and movement. Based on research by Dr. Karl Miller at the University of Georgia, deer are colorblind with the exception of blue. Supposedly, deer can see the color blue better than we can. I once dropped my blaze-orange cap from a treestand on the ground below. Two deer walked right over the cap without giving it second notice.


Left to right, blaze orange makes you safe when hunting, but, if people have to hunt for you, it could help them find you more quickly. Turnip greens, kale and all other cool-season leafy vegetables allow you to eat fresh greenery all winter.

Greens for a Good Grip

As winter comes along, it’s important to keep greenery in your diet. An available source of greenery in the wintertime is turnip greens, kale, mustard greens and collard greens. This is also a great way to eat fresh when nothing else is actively growing.

Turnip greens and other greens are an excellent source of vitamins K, A and C. In addition, just like keeping your cattle healthy with minerals, greens provide the trace minerals we need such as potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and B2 vitamins.


John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.