January 2013
Howle's Hints

Bypass the Busyness and Get Some Work Done

"Beware the barrenness of a busy life." – Socrates

A common slogan I often see outside of churches while traveling down the road reads, "If the Devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy." Evidently, being "busy" is not a new thing. Supposedly, Socrates lived from around 469 B.C. to 399 B.C. For Socrates to make this quote, being too busy was a potential problem in his days as well.

I think Thomas A. Edison gives a pretty fair definition of busy. "Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing."

Being busy can prevent us from getting important things done. Being busy causes us to send someone a text instead of talking to them on the phone. It can cause us to stay at home and send an e-mail instead of going to our neighbor’s house to check on them in person.


This tree has barbed wire in the very center. A plank or strip of wood will prevent the tree from eating the wire.

I grew up hanging out with men who wore overalls and accomplished lots of work, but always seemed to have time to help their neighbors build a barn or kill a hog. I grew up around women who spent all day washing clothes, hoeing the garden and cooking for their families, but always seemed to have time to cook a meal for someone who was sick or write a long, hand-written letter to someone who had lost a loved one or needed encouragement.

For this new year, let’s make it a habit to stop the busyness in favor of taking time to serve those around us. If you have younger children, it sounds crazy, but they don’t have to take part in every activity offered in your community. Most children develop their critical thinking skills while they are simply at home or in the nearby woods learning to play by themselves.

Don’t Eat the Fence

How many times have you just nailed the barbed wire fence to nearby trees only to come back in a couple of years to see the tree slowly eat or grow around the wire. Many trees will actually eat through the wire causing you to have to re-attach the wire. This problem can be avoided by simply nailing a strip of wood to the tree. Once you’ve nailed the strip of wood to the tree, you can then nail the wire to the strip.

Hydrogen Peroxide

We all know that hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning out cuts or scratches you can get while working around the farm. You can also brush your teeth with it or soak your toothbrush in it to keep it free of germs. There are other uses as well.

Save money on your family portrait and do it yourself with hay and old barn wood.


If you get blood on your pants or favorite hunting jacket either from cutting yourself or dressing game, pour hydrogen peroxide on the blood stain before it sets in. The peroxide will foam and bubble the blood stain right out of the fabric, then simply wipe the area with a damp cloth. Apply the peroxide and wipe until the stain is completely gone.

Family Photo Fix

Don’t spend a fortune when it comes time to take your family photos. It’s a frustrating experience to hire an individual to take your family’s picture only to find the props like hay bales and old barn wood can be found in your own yard or around the farm.

We had a small shed collapse on the farm, and I salvaged the pieces of wood, cut them in seven foot lengths, and attached them side-by-side with two wood strips on the backs of the planks. Set this frame against a wall or tree, then set a few hay bales in front, and take your own family photos.

Warm Wool

It’s January, so it’s time to break out the wool socks. Wool offers the best protection against foot moisture during the cold, rainy months because wool wicks moisture away from your feet. In addition, wool stays warm even when wet. Cotton, on the other hand, even though it works great in the summer months, remains clammy and cold for the duration of the day when worn in boots.

Merino wool from the merino sheep offers the softest wool currently available. The warm-wool principle works also for pants and jackets. Even if you get wet with rain or snow, the wool will continue to warm your body much better than any other material offered today and, since it works pretty well keeping sheep warm, it’s all natural.

Coyote Control

Coyotes pose a threat to smaller livestock, turkeys and a range of wildlife, and their population must be kept in check.


Look for coyotes around pasture edges in winter. Scouting while feeding cattle works well.

Around the end of January, coyotes will begin to look for mates for breeding. This is the time of year you will hear coyotes become more vocal. While feeding the livestock this winter, look around pasture edges in the late evenings for prowling coyotes.

They will often enter pastures searching for rats and field mice looking for grains and seeds. Also, the coyotes will eat fresh cow manure for the folic acid present in the droppings. Being downwind of the coyotes, concealed and using nothing more than a mouse squealer can result in a productive January hunt.

This January, bypass the busyness, get some work done, and visit with your friends and neighbors. Who knows, you might make some new friends and help someone in need.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.