MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their farming advice, fun tips and country folklore, including a variety of ways to use cooking oil to clean your hands, shining up windows with dishwasher detergent and scattering dog hair in the garden to keep critters away
MOTHER's Country Farming Advice and Folklore
After using my string mop, I rinse the head in cold water and then soak it for an hour in a bucket of warm water into which I've mixed a capful of fabric softener. No more stiff and smelly mops for me.
—Amy L. Weber
For Oil We Know
When I work on my car, I invariably get grease all over my hands and under my fingernails. This is tough stuff, but every last bit comes off (the odor, too) with vegetable oil. After rubbing it in really well, I add a little dish detergent and water, rub some more and wash it off. The oil also gets rid of that sticky residue from adhesive labels.
Instead of turpentine or gasoline, I use cooking oil to take paint off my hands. It's much kinder to skin, and it also doesn't smell for a long time afterward like the spirits do.
When spring cleaning involves getting behind and under such large appliances as the washer, dryer or refrigerator, they can easily be moved by rubbing some cooking oil in front of the casters and giving a little pull.
Daly City, California
My spring cleaning includes the cast-iron woodstove. When the evenings are finally warm and the stove is cool, I shovel out the ashes and any debris, then wipe the exterior with a damp cloth. When it's dry, the metal is given a light coating of vegetable oil. This restores the rich black finish and makes the stove look like new. If you try this, remember to open the windows for a few minutes when you light the first fall fire, as any remaining oil will smoke a bit.
There's no need to buy a special product to touch up minor scratches on wood furniture and paneling. A teaspoon of instant coffee dissolved in a teaspoon of water serves the same purpose.
For the brightest, shiniest windows ever, wash them with the same detergent you'd use in an electric dishwasher. Just dissolve the granules in a little water, sponge off the glass, and wipe immediately with a wad of clean newspaper.
Ditch the Pitch
I do a lot of woodworking, and I always hated stopping every so often to spend time cleaning the pitch off the blade of my radial saw. Then I found that the worst of this chore could be handled by oven cleaner. Just spray it on both sides of the blade, let it work for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a rough cloth. This is effective for almost any saw blade.
—Ted Clair, Jr.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Every spring, after we groom our two large collies, we end up with bags of dog hair. We empty the bags in our garden, scattering the hair throughout the plot. Since we started doing this, all the ground hogs, raccoons and other animals that used to vandalize the crops have gone elsewhere.
—Chris A. Martin
Morgantown, West Virginia.