Wasp Removal, Garden Hose Hanger, and Other Country Lore

This installment of an ongoing homesteading and country lore feature includes stories about a man who uses a flaming torch for wasp removal and a method of reusing old umbrella handles as a garden hose hanger.

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Chicken eggs filled with salt took care of a kind snake that had been raiding the family goose's nest.


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The following housekeeping tips and other bits of country lore were submitted by readers. 

Wasp Removal

Wasps can be a nuisance when they decide to build their nests too near the house, especially if you (or a member of your family) are allergic to their stings. But Stillman Valley, Illinois resident Joe B. Russian has found a way to got rid of the pests without getting "bit." Joe just ties an oil-soaked rag to a stick, and then embeds the base of the homemade "torch" In the ground about 10 to 20 feet from the nest. Then, on a dark night, he lights the rag and-with another stick-knocks the nest down. The Insects will see the flickering flame when they come buzzin' out, fly Into it, and "go up In smoke"!

Garden Hose Hanger

Gary Anderson of Portland, Oregon come up with an Ingenious "recycled" use for old umbrella handles. He just attaches two of 'am (hooks down) to a foot-long scrap of two-by- four, paints the rig black, and has a dandy hanger for his garden hose!

Volkswagen Chicken Coop

Cheryl Matthews of Sandy Hollow, Pennsylvania writes that her family was gettin' pretty tired of the stripped-down Volkswagen that sat on blocks In their back yard ... until the Matthews family got a good deal on 20 chickens! After the addition of low roosting poles, several nest boxes, and an "access" ladder, the chickens settled right Into the beat-up bootie. Not only that, but Cheryl's birds seem to like their two-door coop. And at night, the car's windows rolled most of the way up, the "poult's wagon" is water- and varmint-proof!

Hair Shiner

Television regularly advertises cures for every cosmetic problem imaginable (and some that are a little hard to imagine), but these "beauty aids" are expensive, sometimes ineffective, and occasionally even harmful to skin and hair. So, the next time your flowing locks look "dry and lifeless,"take a tip from Pamela More of Bridgeport, West Virginia and go to the grocery store for your solution. Pam says that a small application of olive oil (just enough to make a little oily spot on your hand) will make drab or dull hair shiny and easier to style. Simply rub the liquid in well, either after or between shampoos. Not too much, though, or you might be mistaken for a salad bar!

Jumper Cable Extension

When your car, tractor, or truck has a dead battery and—or one reason or another—the jumper cables won't reach to another car, you'll want to thank Patrick Burgess of Carbondale, Illinois for this tip: Just clip your two cables together, and use this "extension" as the "positive" hookup. But, before attaching the jumper, move the running car so that its bumper is touching, metal to metal, the bumper of the dead car. This will successfully complete the "negative" connection (you might have to wedge a screwdriver or something between the two bumpers to get a good contact). With that done, connect the double-length "positive" cable and start 'er up!

Bandana Uses

With the popularity of throwaway tissues, not many folks carry the old-fashioned, handy, cloth handkerchiefs anymore, but Los Angeleno Timothy Hall reminds us that this item (or a neckerchief) can be put to a lot more uses than wiping a runny nose! Consider the potential of a sturdy bandanna as mouth protection from smoke, wind, or smog; as an emergency bandage or tourniquet; as a signal, a potholder, a headband, a belt (if you tie two together), a carrying pouch (bindlestiff style, with the four corners knotted), or—torn into strips—an emergency cord or binding. The lowly hanky can also serve as napkin or towel, filter your coffee, protect you from sunburn/heatstroke, defog your windshield, or patch—in a pinch—your jeans!

Bleeding Stopper

Charles J. Cook of Pennsburg, Pennsylvania says he first read—in the Healthview News Letter—that cayenne pepper Is effective in stopping the flow of blood from wounds. The article cited an instance of a man with a gunshot wound in the stomach who had swallowed a cup of cayenne tea. When they got the victim to surgery the hospital folks couldn't believe the clean, almost blood-free condition of the injury.

A few days after the story caught his attention, Charles found occasion to test the remedy himself when he stabbed the side of his thumb with a screwdriver. He promptly "seasoned" the cut with some cayenne. And the result? "it stung some," reports Chuck, "but the blooding stopped immediately and didn't start again, even when I applied working pressure on the thumb!"

Cures for Warts

Most everyone sooner or later has a run-in with warts. The ugly little growths are certainly a nuisance, and can be pretty danged uncomfortable to boot. Even worse, the treatments prescribed to handle this problem are often painful and not always effective. But cheer up, because reader John T. Lauderdale of Westville, Indiana has found a simple, down-home wart cure! John says that all you have to do is dab the sticky juice from a milkweed (genus Asclepias) plant on the affected area two or three times a day. After three to five days of this treatment—no more warts!

And if milkweed doesn't do the trick on warts, David Thompson of McClean, Virginia claims that you can apply nail polish to the stubborn growths twice a day (each time peeling off the old coat) to make your skin lump-free within four weeks. Don't miss an application, though -warns Dave-or the little critters will rejuvenate!

Bubble Wrap Insulation

Heat loss around windows can have a lot to do with skyrocketing heat bills, but Walda Juhl has found a solution that's even effective against the north winds of Munger, Michigan. Walda simply covers the insides of her windows (those that aren't often used for lookin') with "bubbled" plastic packing material. Those little trapped-air pockets make effective insulators. And the material Is translucent, so Walda's family still gets plenty of sunshine.

Replaceable Pajama Feet

Retread your pj's? If they've got feet In 'em, why not? Those cozy children's "feet" pajamas are great for keeping the little ones warm on cold winter nights. Unfortunately, however, the lower extremities are usually the first to be worn out or outgrown while the rest of the sleeper remains in perfectly good condition!

But Kay Zorn of Willow Springs, Missouri has solved this problem: She takes all of her youngsters' unusable "feeties" and replaces them with "retreads." "Just cut off the feet and sew in a pair of heavy socks a few sizes larger than what your child is currently wearing," says Kay." It's the best way I know of to add miles to your young'uns' sleepwear!"

Sewing Tip

The next time you're whipping something up on the home sewing machine and you have one of those long, narrow casings or ties to turn inside out, try the method that Barbara Robertson (Fort Plain, Now York) has figured out. Cut a piece of cord or strong thread (maybe dental floss?) a handhold longer than your casing. Sew one end of It to the right side of the narrow end of your strip of fabric. Lay the strand along the center of the material, then fold the thing wrong-side out, just the way the pattern says, and stitch the long edges together. (Be careful, now, not to sew into the cord.) Next, get a good grip on the loose end of the twine and pull slowly with one hand while you work the cloth back with the other. Presto! In a few seconds your textile tube is right-side out! Then you can just clip away the "puller-thread" and get on with the next step In your garment's construction.

Salted Snake

Snake problems, you say? Well, Day Brown of Leslie, Arkansas just may be able to give you a hand.

"Last year we had a predator problem with our nesting goose," Day writes. "A king snake began to feed on her eggs. We caught the critter and moved him to our homestead's lower forty. Soon, however, we began to suspect that the thief had returned though we couldn't seem to catch him in the act again."

So Day came up with an Idea: He poked a hole In each of a couple of chicken eggs, blew out the contents, filled the hen fruit with common table salt, taped up the openings, and left the deceptive eggshells in a strategic location. Day figured that if by chance it was one of the family dogs who was stealing the goose eggs, the hound would break the shell, find the salt, and go away unharmed. If, however, the robber was in fact the suspected snake, the scoundrel would ingest the contents of the egg shell, be unable to expel it, and consequently die.

And so It happened: Shortly after the trap was set the family pup, Herbie, let it be known "loud and clear" that he was not to blame, as he barked at the discovery of a salt-filled snake carcass under the house—stopped In its path by the counterfeit hen fruit!

Plastic Rejuvenation

Plastic, which becomes amazingly indestructible when you want to get rid of it, seems just as amazingly prone to cracking, crazing, and otherwise springin' leaks when formed into buckets, dishpans, and other utensils. Well, Annis Ferguson out in DuBois, Indiana can save you the trip to town for a replacement the next time that happens to you. Heat the blade of an old table knife—Annis keeps one handy just for this repair job—and lightly rub the tool's flat side back and forth over the break. You may have to reheat the knife a few times and repeat the rubbing more than once, but done properly, this repair work can stretch a lot more service out of any leaking plastic container.

Bathtub Clothes Washer

On those occasions when there's wash to be done and no way to get to the coin laundry (or the old wringer is temporarily out of commission), take a tip from Gail Rush of Kamuela, Hawaii. Gail gets her young'uns into the act by filling the bathtub with water, soap, and clothes, and then turning the children loose to jump and stomp around to their hearts' content.

And, If you usually have trouble gotten' your little ones to pitch in with the chores, this Is one job that they'll surely accept gladly ... In fact, you might have trouble gettin" em to stop!

Skin Care Formula

If you're plagued by hard-to-heal skinned knuckles, fissured fingertips, and other such minor cuts and scrapes—the telltale signs of hardworking hands—Sherwin Kelley of Bentonville, Virginia has an old farm recipe that he'd like to share.

Mix 2 ounces of "green" (liquid antiseptic) soap, 2 ounces of plain glycerin, and 4 ounces of bay rum (an old-timey after-shave lotion)—all available from most drugstores—and pour the concoction into a clean plastic shampoo bottle with a flip-up spout for handy dispensing.

Rub the ointment into your hands well, and by morning the smaller nicks will have healed and the larger wounds will be protected by a soft covering of "skin." Continued application of the salve will prevent the formation of hard scabs, which are easily cracked or prematurely knocked off.

"I've been using and recommending this skin-care formula for nigh onto ten years now," claims Sherwin Kelley, "and so far my liniment's success rate Is 100%."