February 2018
Howle's Hints

Old Things Made New

"Power is not alluring to pure minds." ~ Thomas Jefferson

It’s amazing how many warnings and predictions our Founding Fathers made about unchecked power and the negative consequences it can bring. What would they think today as congressmen serve term after term for decades without anything positive getting accomplished and few laws getting passed? The swamp runs deep for sure.

I have an idea. Since it takes long periods of time for swamps to produce gasses and fossil fuels that bring great wealth, let’s pry some of these swamp dwellers loose from their seats in Congress and see if we can’t find oil under these guys. At least then something of value could be produced.

I would love to see elected congressmen serve only one or two terms and then be required to return to their homes and businesses. I think we would all be better off, and that temptation of lifetime seats and special interests would go away.


February is an ideal month to get a shot at coyotes during their mating.

February Farm Hunting

February is an ideal time to control coyote populations around the farm. This time of year, coyotes are looking for mates. If you want to reduce the populations around your farm, it’s an ideal time to call coyotes into range. An unmanaged pack of coyotes can do serious damage to livestock, as well as the family pets.

Unattended calves, goats, sheep and chickens are subject to be attacked when they stray from the group. Calls imitating deer fawn, rabbits or even field mice can often bring coyotes in for a shot. In addition, during the winter when you are feeding cattle late in the evening, keep your rifle handy in case a coyote or two are seen.

If you are setting up a blind to hunt from, make sure you limit your movements and are completely camouflaged. Coyotes have keen vision and a strong ability to detect movement or things appearing out of place. Also, be sure to set up your blind downwind of the expected path of travel.


New Use for Old Barn Wood

You might have a shed or two on the farm falling in or past the useful stage. If that is the case, you can salvage the boards and do many things with them. If the boards are solid enough and have some length, you can repurpose them on newly constructed sheds. You can also use them to make items around the home such as coffee tables or picture frames. There is, however, a major concern with wood-boring insects.

A paint roller makes quick work of treating old barn wood.


There is a product called Tim-bor that can be applied to the wood that is designed to kill powderpost beetles, termites and even discourage carpenter bees from boring. Tim-bor is similar in consistency to baking soda powder. Simply add water and spray the liquid onto the wood.

In addition to the Tim-bor, I like to add Permethrin SFR 36 percent and diesel fuel. The oil in diesel fuel is a natural preservative and insect repellent, and the permethrin works well to kill any insects present.

After I mix the Tim-bor, permethrin and diesel fuel in a bucket, I simply use a paint roller to apply the mixture. I apply it to the top, bottom and sides of each plank, and allow it to soak for a couple of weeks. The diesel will have a strong smell for a couple of weeks, but, after a short time, you can bring it in the house without smelling like you replaced the fuel pump on your diesel tractor.


Building a Picture Frame

We have an old barn about to collapse from the weight of a tree pressing on it from the side. Before bracing the barn with poles to prevent collapse, I took a few photos of the barn in its original position. The idea was to take a black and white photo of the barn and create a frame with some of the original barn wood.

To make a frame from barn wood involves a table saw, miter saw, drill, brace brackets and wood glue. With the table saw, cut the barn wood planks in 3-inch widths. Using a dado blade or multiple cuts with the standard saw blade, you can cut the inset (rabbit ear) where the photo, glass and photo backing is held in place.

Finally, use a miter saw to cut the 45-degree angles. This step is extremely important. If the corners aren’t exactly 45 degrees, your frame will be out of square and the edges won’t concisely join together. You want to be able to glue the wood of the joints and mount corner brackets for extra stability.

The 90-degree corner brackets are also essential. If the frame ever drops, the place the frame will break is one of the 45-degree angles. The metal, 90-degree corner brackets make sure the frame will stay strongly attached even if the glue seal breaks. You can have your glass cut at any glass shop and hang the photo on the wall with a couple of brackets and a section of wire.

The inside cut of the frame bordering the picture might need staining to match the older, uncut wood. A walnut stain applied carefully around this cut will add to the visual effect of the photo inside. You can also make all your cuts and assemble and glue the frame. Then you can wait till the project is complete before applying the mixture of diesel, permethrin and Tim-bor.


This February, whether you are talking old, swamp-dwelling politicians or old barns, do what you can to make old things new.



John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.