April 2011
Howle's Hints

Approach April with a Positive Attitude

"Whether You Think You Can or Whether You Think You Can’t, You’re Right." — Henry Ford

Spring is a time of new beginnings for the farm and the soul. Newborn livestock, freshly germinated seeds, the smell of warm earth and a stirring sermon can contribute greatly to a positive attitude. We might not be able to control the government, the high cost of fuel or the weather, but we can control our attitude and how we face challenges coming to us each day.

For instance, instead of saying, "I hate my job," try, "I’m thankful to be among the employed." Instead of saying, "I’d rather be whipped with a hydraulic hose than to listen to those politicians argue in Washington on the TV," we could say, "I’m glad I live in a country that continues to be free." Instead of saying, "I won’t ever get caught up with all the work to be done," say, "I’m blessed to be physically able to do this work."

A little positive thinking can go a long way when it is combined with ingenuity. When we view challenges in a positive light, it is much easier to solve problems. This approach works well, whether we are designing a catch pen for cattle or looking for an ideal site for a ground blind when turkey hunting.


A dried gourd will last indefinitely and makes an ideal scoop.

Get into the Gourd

The gourd is considered one of the oldest cultivated plants known to mankind. It served a useful purpose even before clay and stone pottery came on the scene. The gourd, once hollowed out and dried would last indefinitely and could be used as a reliable bowl or drinking container.

Anthropologists have even unearthed remains showing parts of gourds were used in primitive brain surgeries. Gourd skins covered with a thin sheet of gold were placed under the skin to cover holes made in the skull after surgery according to anthropologist Edith Durham in her book, High Albania. This may be where the expression, "Hey, you gourd-head!" came from.

Indians would often make use of the gourds as well. They would drill a small hole in the gourd, fill it with seeds they intended to store, plug the hole with a corn cob and bury the gourd upside down in the dirt to keep pests out of the seeds. Finally, they’ve been used for primitive banjos, drums, birdhouses, flotation devices and canteens.

It can take months for a gourd to dry completely, but it is worth the wait. Once a hole is cut into the gourd and the insides are removed, this makes an ideal feed scoop for farm animals. A smaller gourd is ideal for feeding chickens and ducks, and a larger gourd is handy for hunting dogs or larger livestock. Plant a few gourd vines this spring, and you’ll have plenty of handy containers.


Call softly and don’t call too much if a gobbler is headed your way this spring.


Tom Foolery

We had two genuine Eastern wild turkeys, a hen and tom, living on the farm where I grew up in Cleburne County. They came from eggs from an abandoned nest incubated by forestry personnel working in the National Forest. As a young boy, I had been flogged many times by the tom when he caught me off guard. It’s like accidentally backing into an industrial fan with spurs. Nonetheless, I learned the habits, diet and patterns of turkeys at an early age while watching this pair work their way across the pastures and woodlands around our farm.

I love to hear world champion turkey hunters talking about the ideal range at which to shoot a gobbler. Some will say once the gobbler is within 25 yards, squeeze the trigger on the shotgun. Based on my youthful experiences with these turkeys, I know why that is. Any closer and he might flog you.

I’m joking of course, so don’t tell that to kids who are considering turkey hunting with an adult this spring. That wouldn’t be a bad marketing idea for the hunting industry, however. We have snake boots, so why not flog suits? After reading this article, many may scramble out to design a line of camouflage "flog gear" for turkey hunting.

This spring, avoid the temptation to call too loud and too often when trying to entice a gobbler within range. If after a few simple yelps or purrs, you notice a gobbler headed your way, stop calling, and remain motionless and ready. Use the John Wayne philosophy for calling. He once said, "Talk low, talk slow and don’t talk too much." When calling, call low, call slow and don’t call too much.


Clayton Vaughn demonstrates the Rule of 6, 8 and 10 on the interior of his work shed.

It’s Hip to be Square

This spring may find you starting new construction projects around the farm. Whether it’s a barn, a work shed or even a house, the "Rule of 6, 8 and 10" will ensure the structure is square. This mathematical formula is derived from the 47th Problem of Euclid and you don’t have to be a math whiz to use it.

To make sure the proposed structure is square or will be square, measure down the wall or string six feet on the end sill side and mark the first point. Measure eight feet down on the side sill and mark that point. If the measurement from point to point across the angle is 10 feet, the structure is square.

This spring, be sure to think positive. You will feel better and your ingenuity skills will flow like creeks after a springtime rain.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.