July 2013
Howle's Hints

Fine When Fried, Take a Siesta and Get a Handle on Things

A scrape blade is all that is needed to keep firebreaks maintained for wildfire protection and controlling prescribed burns.  

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Henry David Thoreau

Fishing has been a part of man’s make up since the beginning of time. Fishing was such a way of life during Jesus’ time on Earth that he used fishing analogies to share his messages with the common man. All his listeners could relate because many of the occupations centered on the fishing industry at that time. Matthew 4:19 says, "And He said unto them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’"

To be a successful fisherman, you need to have patience and be the type of person who is not easily discouraged. Fishermen in Jesus’ day had to be able to work long, hard hours, also. This could be why Jesus chose fishermen to help spread the gospel.

When Jesus was asked to pay the temple tax, Jesus had Peter cast a hook into the sea and the first fish he caught had a shekel in its mouth. Wouldn’t it be great if we could catch fish and pull money out of the fish’s mouth to pay our taxes? Today, the fish remains the symbol for the Christian faith. In addition to being the Christian symbol, fish are just plain fun to catch, and they make a fine feast when fried.

Scrape the Breaks

Fire breaks serve not only as access roads around your wooded property but can help prevent out-of-control wildfires and help in the control of regular prescribed burns. When the fire breaks become full of leaves, pine needles and debris, they don’t do much good in containing a fire. Using nothing more than a tractor scrape blade will have your fire breaks in clean shape. If you do this just before hunting season, you will be able to walk in silence on bare ground instead of crunching leaves.

  Go to the woods for a straight hickory sapling for your next broken handle. For new tools, go to your local Co-op.

Foiled Again

If you are using a lantern around the campsite, you have light projected in all directions. If you need to project light in one direction in the campsite or use the lantern as a flashlight, line half the inside of the globe with aluminum foil. This not only projects the light in one direction, it concentrates that light for a brighter beam. When you are finished, you can use the foil for a hobo dinner or baked potato around the campfire.

Time for Lime?

Much of the pastureland in Alabama was once cultivated for crops such as cotton and corn. Even on mountaintops, if you could hang on to a gee whiz plow behind a mule, that land was plowed and planted. The problem on many of these hilltop pastures, however, is that much of the nutrients washed off the tops, down the hills and into the creeks.

It is not uncommon for newly cleared land to need as much as three tons of lime per acre to neutralize the soil. If the soil pH isn’t correct, it doesn’t matter how many seeds you plant or how much fertilizer you apply, the nutrients will remain locked up in the soil particles and they will be unavailable to the plant. This greatly adds stress to the forage there, especially in July when the weather gets dry and grazing pressure is already stressing the plants.

Now would be a great time to get soil samples in your pastures and have a lab analyze the results. This will let you have the soil conditioned in time for fall planting. Once you get the soil test results, your local Co-op will have everything you need from lime and fertilizer to seeds and equipment to apply them.

Get a Handle on Things

Seems like I’m continually breaking the handles on tools around the farm. For instance, a set of post hole diggers has two handles. All you have to do is break just one of them and you’re out of business for the rest of the day. The price for a new, heavy-duty post hole digger had me thinking about another option. I then priced a new, wooden handle to replace my old one. Surprised at the cost of a single post hole digger handle, I went with option number three. I went into the woods and found a straight hickory sapling.

Once I cut the hickory handle to length and drilled two bolt holes for mounting to the digger head, I was in business and finished digging the post holes for my muscadine vine posts. I then skinned the rest of the bark off and coated the handles generously with linseed oil.

Now if you want the best price for a brand new set of post hole diggers, visit your local Co-op. For that matter, they will also have plants that will run on your brace posts once you have them in the ground.

Siesta Anyone?

It’s July and it’s hot. If you are working outside this time of year, the middle of the day can be an oppressive time to dig postholes, fix fences or hoe in the garden. The middle of the day is also when we are at greater risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Instead, get most of your work done in the early mornings and late afternoons to avoid the heat of the day.

This will give you a chance to eat a slightly earlier lunch, take a siesta and be recharged for the work that can be completed later in the day. You might even have time to do a little fishing at the end of the week. Don’t feel guilty. Even Jesus took time out to help people do a little fishing.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.