Helpful Homestead Projects and Tips

Learn how to divide a board efficiently, make a toy parachute, use new recyclables and make mint vinegar.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
March/April 1977
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Mint Vinegar is a great dressing with lamb, fruit salad and — if frozen into ice cubes — drinks.  

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How to Divide a board Into Halves ... The Easy Way

Some folks never do seem to learn the easiest way in the world to divide a board, piece of paper, or other sheet of material into halves. Just lay a 12-inch ruler diagonally across the width of the piece so that each end of the measure is flush with one edge of the sheet. The six-inch mark will always be right on center, no matter how wide the piece being scribed. The same idea can be used to locate thirds, quarters, etc., and — for sheets of plywood or other wider — than-one-foot spans — substitute a yardstick or tape measure for the ruler.

Ways to Recycle

If you've ever tied Ole Bowser in the backyard or tethered a calf out in the pasture, you know that either critter can tangle more knots in its rope than grandma knows how to knit into forty yards of yarn.

You can put an end to that problem once and for all, however, by recycling an old wagon, cart, bicycle, or other wheel into a handy-dandy "staker-outer" something like the one shown here. Just mount the wheel so that it turns freely on a post and tie your animal to any point on the rim. As Ole Bowser or young Elsie walks around and around the stake, the tie-point will revolve with the dog or calf ... making it practically impossible for the animal to tangle the line.

How to Make a Toy Parachute

This simple toy can be made entirely from recycled materials. For the chute itself use an old handkerchief, worn-out scarf, or goodly square of lightweight fabric scrap from Mom's sewing drawer ... but be sure to ask her first!

Next, tie a one-foot piece of string (or longer for bigger chutes) to each of the fabric's four corners. Assemble your weight as illustrated. Knot those four chute strings to the screw eye and prepare for liftoff!

You Can Make Mint Vinegar

You can make your own gourmet mint vinegar at home. Simply wash one good handful of fresh mint leaves, shake it well, and bruise the herb with a mortar and pestle or wooden potato masher. Pack the leaves in a glass jar and cover with one quart of distilled white or pure apple cider vinegar. Cover tightly and let stand a good two weeks. Strain and bottle (you may want to add a few drops of green vegetable coloring).

If fresh mint is not available, use three tablespoons of the herb's dried leaves and bring the vinegar to a boil before pouring it over the natural flavoring.

This vinegar is excellent with lamb, good in fruit salad dressings, and — believe it or not — delicious frozen into cubes and added to iced drinks.

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