April 2016
Howle's Hints

Finding Peace in the Outdoors

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 (KJESV)

The dogwoods are blooming, cattle are lowing to their newborn calves, crappie are biting, and toms are gobbling. April is a great time to be outside in rural Alabama. If you have to spend a lot of time behind a desk or staring at a computer screen, it can sometimes be difficult to find peace. When you take a few minutes to admire God’s natural handiwork, suddenly peace of mind begins to take the place of frustrations and tribulation, and the words in John 16:33 seem to line up perfectly in your mind.

Take a Chain Saw to Chinese Imports

Privet hedge was a gift imported from China. According to Mississippi State University publications, there are various species of privet, but the one most widespread in southern U.S. is Chinese privet, introduced in 1952. It is considered one of the top 10 weeds in Alabama and Georgia, and it’s considered a Category One invasive plant in Florida. This gift has turned into a curse on fence lines and hedgerows around our Southern pastures. The privet hedge produces berries that are tasty to birds and, wherever there’s a fence line or power line birds can rest, chances are good privet hedge will germinate from the seeds in the bird’s droppings.

  Left to right, if you are cutting large privet with a chainsaw, use protective headgear. A motorcycle helmet makes ideal head protection and dampens the noise of the chainsaw. Keep a one gallon sprayer full of a mixture of Remedy to spray privet stumps as soon as they are cut.

One way I work out frustration with the overwhelming amount of Chinese imports to this country is with an American-made chainsaw. I typically take 10-20 feet of fence line at a time and make the decision to clear that much privet each outing. Keep a pump sprayer tank handy and full of a mixture of Remedy. As you cut the privet hedge, spray the cut, exposed trunks to help prevent sprouts and suckering. By cutting the privet down to fence level, the privet can be managed by spraying more easily with a spray wand from the seat of your tractor.

This is a great time of year to attack the privet with Remedy while the shrubs are actively blooming and growing. It may require an additional treatment later in the season to spray the spots you might have missed. Spring and early summer when the privet is actively growing allows woody brush killer to travel to the plants’ root system. If the privet has grown into trees, it may be difficult to spray and you might want to cut them back with a chainsaw or use a dozer to clear the entire fence line and simply rebuild the fence.

One point of safety is to use head protection while cutting larger privet hedge with a chainsaw. The heavy weight of the limbs and pressure of the intertwined branches make some type of helmet necessary. If you don’t have a chainsaw hardhat, a motorcycle helmet works great and it helps to dampen the noise of the chainsaw. Spray the cut stumps with Remedy immediately after cutting. Later in the summer, if you see any re-growth or areas that survived the first spraying, you can more easily manage spraying the fence lines if the privet is at fence level instead of tree level.

Master the Mineral Question

This time of year, grass tetany is a potential threat to any herd of cattle. Your local Quality Co-op is the best source of minerals for your herd to guarantee the cattle are getting plenty of magnesium and calcium during the quick growth period of grasses. Quick growth combined with cloudy days means the grasses may be growing too fast to absorb an adequate amount of minerals in the leaf material to make sure the livestock are getting the necessary nutrients. Your qualified personnel at the Co-op will provide you with a mineral mixture to keep your herd healthy.

A come-along winch is an ideal farm tool for light towing, pulling heavy objects into place, or tightening cables or fence lines.  

Come-Along for Extra Pulling Power

A hand ratchet come-along is a handy device to keep in the toolbox of your pickup. The come-along has a hook on each end and is operated by a hand ratchet lever. We have cables that go across the creeks to act as supports for attaching wire or panels to keep cows from getting out of the pasture through the creeks. If these cables need re-attaching or tightening, a come-along works well to tighten bulky items such as cable. Simply attach one end of the come-along to the cable and the other end to a stable object such as the tow hook on the front of your truck or rear bumper.

Tame the Smoke with a Tee-Pee Fire

About the only disadvantage to a campfire is the smoke that sometimes gets in your eyes if you are sitting around the fire. If you arrange your logs in a tee-pee style as they are burning, the draft of the flames carries the smoke upwards with the flames and away from the eyes of those sitting around the fire.

This April, make sure you take time away from work to experience true peace. Turn off the computers, smart phones and televisions, and enjoy God’s handiwork in the outdoors.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.