May 2017
Howle's Hints

Finding Peace


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


Henry David Thoreau probably had the most popular fishing quote of all time, but the deeper you look, you realize that fishing was the not the ends but the means. Whether you are on the bank of a farm pond, in a small boat just off the lakeshore or in the middle of the ocean, there’s something about fishing that just clears the mind and makes us realize life is more than the work we do or the accomplishments we have. It’s more about having peace in life. I’m convinced a man truly can’t experience this peace unless he walks with Jesus.

I also think it is no coincidence that Jesus chose fishermen to help spread the gospel. These were tough guys used to working long hours, but they realized their life was more than how many fish they caught or how much money they could acquire. This is evident because they were willing to leave their jobs behind to spread the Gospel to others. One important thing Jesus left with his disciples when they were overworked and worn-out was his peace. In John 14:27 (NIV), "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Check the wind and moisture conditions before your burn, even with the green grass of summer.Gather a few friends over at night to help you watch the fire.


Brush Pile Party

Do you have a large brush pile to burn after all the tree cutting and pruning from winter? If so, turn it into a nighttime gathering. Who doesn’t want to sit around a fire at night? At night, a brush pile burns much safer because of the dew settling in the surrounding woods and the humidity being higher. Before burning a brush pile, make sure you create a wide firebreak around the burn pile with a scrape blade. Next, let your neighbors know you will be burning. Finally, invite a couple of friends over to help watch the fire. This is a great way to get some peace at the end of a long day of work.

Use special caution when setting fire to your brush pile, even if it’s in the middle of your pasture. Look at the forecast for relative humidity, wind direction and wind speed. The best time to set fire to the brush is a day after it has rained. Sparks and floating debris can set the surrounding woods or pastures on fire if the forest floor is dry and there is dry grass.



If you keep your produce picked regularly, it will produce more over the season.

Get the Most Production from Your Produce

May is the ideal growing season for your backyard garden. Corn, green beans, okra and tomatoes can be stored for up to five years once they have been canned in glass jars. Crops such as green beans and okra will continue to produce well into the season. If you keep the beans and okra picked, they will produce long term. If you forget to pick them, they become mature and little fruit is produced.

Your local Co-op is a great place to get your glass jars, rings and lids for a successful summer of canning.

With green beans, once you have packed your jars full, leave about 1 inch of head space, add one teaspoon of canning salt and cook the beans in a pressurized cooker for the appropriate time. If you are canning corn, cut the corn off the cob in full kernels, add the salt, seal the lids and rings, and put them in the canner for the appropriate time.

Here are a couple of tips to help with the canning process. Make sure you wash and clean the rubber seal in the lid. Apply a thin coating of cooking oil to the ring so it is not likely to stick to the metal of the lid.


Saving the Soil

May is a great time to give a lot of thought to the soil on your farm. Even though the grass is growing now, without proper planning, the soil quality can deteriorate quickly. Fields continuously grazed low will result in poorer root structure. In addition, when the ground cover or grazing is removed, the soil is heated up due to exposure to sun, and, therefore, drought conditions can worsen.

This results in poor soil quality and keeps the soil from retaining rainfall and moisture. If possible, try to avoid grazing pastures below 4 inches. This keeps a moist cover over the soil and results in more organic growth in the soil for organisms such as earthworms and dung beetles. Finally, keeping forage no lower than 4 inches helps in parasite control because many parasites cattle ingest are located in the 3-inch and below height of forbs.


This May, even in the midst of all the work that needs to be done, maintain your sense of peace. If you have to, take a day off and go fishing so you can find it. I’m sure Jesus would be glad to join you in that boat.


John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.