February 2016
Howle's Hints

A Silent Minute

Finding the light in the darkest of times

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14, King James Version)

February can be a dark time of year. The days are short and nights are extended. Getting outside to feed the cows their hay ration or taking a brisk walk around the fence lines can help supply those small doses of vitamin D we need from the rare sun showing on these days.

Our country also seems to have entered into a time of darkness. Threats outside our borders and strife within our borders seem to illustrate the darkness that has swept through the land. But lo, there is good news. None of these things escape God’s vision, and He tells us in 2 Chronicles there is a way to bring the light back into our lives and into our country.

It’s interesting that this is an if/then statement. If we do three things: humble ourselves, pray and seek God’s face; then: God will hear us, forgive our sins and heal our land. During World War II, Winston Churchill, along with the support of King George VI, called on the people of England to pray for protection and peace for one minute each night at 9 o’clock while Hitler’s bombing raids were wreaking havoc within the country.

The story goes that the clock, Big Ben, would chime nine times, and this was the signal for the country to begin praying collectively. It was known as "The Big Ben Silent Minute." This practice of calling for prayer each night at 9 continued for years after the war concluded, and we know from history that darkness and Hitler did not prevail, and Britain and the United States remain free today.

This freedom and protection granted by God can only be preserved through prayer. George Washington often prayed and fasted asking for God’s protection and providence during the American Revolution while serving as the Commander in Chief. When he was inaugurated in 1789, Washington also enlisted God’s protection over the country he was about to lead as he said the following, "In this first official act, my fervent supplications to the Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes ...."

An old, burned-out extension cord makes an ideal fence insulator for attaching your electric fence to trees.  

Homemade Tree Insulators

Electric fencing is ideal for containing animals and subdividing the grazing of pastures. Often these fences can link into the woods line and you need a way to attach the electric wire or poly tape to the tree. If you have an old extension cord that has burned out or any insulated wire, simply make a loop in the wire and attach it to the trees with fence staples once you have run the electric wire through. The coated wire provides the necessary insulation for the electric current to travel past the tree without grounding out.

Non-Skid Trailer Floor

The floor in a cattle trailer can get quite slick. If you are taking a prized load of beef to the sales barn, the last thing you want to happen is for the livestock to slip down or get a leg broken on the way to market. Feedlot panels can be secured to the wood floor of the trailer with fence staples to keep the cattle from losing their footing in the trailer.

A 16-foot panel costs around $20. Your local Co-op will have panels and everything you need to attach them. Keep the flooring cleaned out with a pressure washer to avoid manure buildup and corrosion.

  Place your hay ring in an area that is well-drained to avoid buildup of mud, health risks to cattle and weeds in the spring.

Move out of the Mud

The freezing rains we get this time of year can really tear up pasture areas where the cattle are fed round bales of hay. If the hay ring is in a low-lying area, the mud buildup can reach the teats on cows and can possibly cause infection, not to mention other health problems. A better spot to place hay rings is on a higher, well-drained area. Look for one that might have rocky ground near the surface. Feeding cattle in muddy areas can also result in many more weeds the following spring.

Provide the Protein

February can be a stressful time for cattle. The colder temperatures require more energy, and this time of year the forage may be wearing thin and hay alone might not provide the needed protein to come through the winter in a healthy condition. Your protein solution is as near as your local Co-op. Offer your herd a syrup tub of 24 percent protein this winter. It works on cattle as well as a hot bowl of chili does for a hungry farmer.

This February, let’s all take a moment to realize the power of prayer if we want our nation to remain blessed. Every generation before us did this and we reap those blessings today. If we don’t, we will continue to see God pushed out of our schools, community and public squares. In the words of Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.