February 2013
Howle's Hints

Make it a Point to Sharpen your Shovel and Avoid Cold Feet


With pine bed slats and tie down straps, a convenient pack for a backpack can be constructed for around 10 bucks.

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." -- Henry Ford

This February, keep an eye on your goals and don’t let the obstacles slow you down. The days are short so there’s plenty of time for nighttime planning and completing projects in the shop. Finally, don’t forget to set some small, attainable goals for yourself each week.

Build a Pack for Your Back

I recently had the opportunity to go on a six-mile backpack and campout with the Boy Scouts in my area. After I saw prices upwards of $170 for a framed backpack, I decided to build my own and it only cost around 10 bucks.

For the frame, I used bed slats off an old bunk bed made of lightweight pine. Once the frame was constructed and screwed together with inch and a quarter screws and a bead of wood glue for extra security, I then needed shoulder straps.

I used ratchet tie down straps for the shoulder straps because they were wide. I secured these to the pack with roofing nails and placed another strip of wood on top of the straps. For extra padding on the back, I cut strips out of a foam camping pad, and I also secured these strips to the shoulder straps with duct tape.

Make the Model

Whether you are building a new house or a barn, it’s a good idea to build a miniature model of the structure with one inch being equal to one foot before you begin construction. This will allow you to see how the sun will strike the structure to gain the most out of the sun in winter and the breezes in summer. I got my daughter Emma to build the miniature model of a barn with stalls for the purpose of this tip. Once you see the floor plan in real dimensions, it gives you an idea of any changes you want to make. To make the barn more realistic, you can even add toy cows, horses and chickens.

Stop Cold Feet

During February, feet can get cold if you are not working hard. A sure fire way to alleviate cold feet is to spray them with an antiperspirant deodorant spray before putting your socks on. Even in cold weather, your feet will sweat some, and this moisture creates the cold feet.

Before building the real thing, make a miniature model of the structure you are building. This way you can see how the sun will strike it.


Spray Antiprespirant on your feed to help you stay warmer.

If you are hunting, spray a scent-free deodorant on your feet. Finally, wear a good pair of merino wool socks to wick moisture and hold heat.

Sneaking up on Squirrels

February is a great time to introduce youngsters to the outdoors through squirrel hunting. The best method for hunting with youth is to teach them to softly walk a few steps, stop, look and listen. If no squirrel appears or tail flickers, move forward a few more steps. If you move slowly enough, squirrels often don’t run and hide in the nests and hollow trees.

If you do harvest a few squirrels, be sure to teach the youth about trigger to table. Allow them to help in cleaning of the animals. Even if you’re not a great cook, squirrel hams and shoulders can be battered and fried on the lowest setting in a covered skillet. The slow cooking helps tenderize the meat.

This February, take some time to get those indoor, in-shop projects completed and stay focused on your goals.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.