Down-Home Country Lore: Bloated Goat, Hard Boiled Eggs, Spilled Milk and More

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Advice from those who know best... the people who are actually doing it!

If every one of today’s homesteading families has learned as much from their rural neighbors as we have from ours. . . then there must be-buried just beneath the surface of MOTHER-land–a whole mine of country lore that should be shared.

You know the kind of information I mean: those little, practical down-home, time-tested solutions for minor problems. Solutions that somehow never get included in textbooks or written up into articles … yet which you and I use every day simply because they work.

Here, for starters, are a few gleanings from the Bubel tribes collection of rural wisdom (wisdom which we, for the most part, have
winnowed from the much larger storehouse of native horse sense that our friends, relatives, and acquaintances regularly draw upon).

You’ll notice that the larger percentage of the following tips and hints can be implemented with nothing more exotic than common, everyday farm findings . . . such as baskets, feed bags, or vinegar. So–if you’d rather fix or improvise what you need, rather than order a “for cash” replacement or make an expensive trip to the store–check in with us here at the Country Lore Column from time to time. You’re our kind of people!

Smoky and Rusty Coover–of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania–are the first folks to take advantage of our offer to swap a down-home tip for a one-year subscription to THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS®. The Coovers’ bit of farming wisdom was passed on to them by a country vet and it answers that age-old question: “What do we do with a bloated goat?”

Cut five pieces of binder twine (each about three feet long) and roll the strands loosely together to form a rope. Then insert the hank of string into the animal’s mouth just as if it were a bit and tie the loose ends of twine behind the goat’s ears or to its horns. As the ruminant works its tongue around to reject the annoying rope, she (or he) will solve her own problem by naturally belching up much of the troublesome gas. (As a bonus, this treatment gives the ole girl something to do while she’s feeling poorly!)

Hard-boiled eggs are handy additions to a summer haying crew’s lunch … but they’re exasperating when they don’t peel easily. The hen fruit will slip out of its shell quite readily, however, if you’ll remember these old-time secrets:

[1] Hard boil eggs that are at least four days old (no fresher).

[2] Add about one tablespoon of salt to every three quarts
of cooking water.

[3] Rinse the eggs in cold water as soon as they’re boiled.

Spilled milk sours quickly in the summer. But you can remove that unpleasant odor by moistening a rag with vinegar and rubbing it on the offending spot. Plastic containers that have absorbed a turned-milk flavor may also be freshened by filling them with vinegar. (And don’t throw the vinegar away after you’ve used it. Pour it into your barn critters’ drinking water instead. It’ll put some spring in their step and add a gloss to their coats.)

The next time you need a quick windbreak, try piling up a wall of hay or straw bales. Alternate the direction of the “building blocks” as you put them in place … to add strength to the temporary shelter.

Scaly legs on chickens are caused by mites. To get rid of the tiny pests, dip the affected extremities of an infested bird–right up to the first drumstick feathers–in a mixture of two parts raw linseed oil and one part kerosene.

It happens every summer! The hens are laying the most eggs they’ll produce all year . . . just at the time that you’re too busy to cook or bake with them. That’s your signal to freeze the surplus hen fruit for use during the coming winter (when you’ll have more time in the kitchen but your feathered ladies will be taking their annual vacation from the production of eggs).

WHOLE EGGS: Fork the eggs together lightly without beating in air. Add either three teaspoons of honey or one-half teaspoon of salt to each cup of egg. YOLKS: Add either one teaspoon of salt or one tablespoon of honey (depending on your later intended use) to each cup of yolk. (And be sure to label each batch of the preserved yellows so you won’t mix them up.) WHITES: Freeze plain. There’s no need to stabilize with honey or salt.

Package meal-sized quantities of the whole or separated eggs in covered containers, date each one, and use its contents within eight months. When reconstituting the thawed eggs, one tablespoon of yolk plus two tablespoons of white–or three tablespoons of whole egg–is the equivalent of one hen fruit, straight from the shell.

Discarded rubber tires make resilient, protective enclosures for duck nests. And, once the new flock has been hatched out, you can slice one of the doughnuts in half (cut with the grain of the tread) to create two shallow, unbreakable, round feeders for your hungry new quackers.

Why not gamble on a mid-summer planting of snap beans? The late crop will stand a good chance of escaping the heat-loving Mexican bean beetle. And if an early frost “nips ’em in the bud”, you can always turn the legumes under for green manure.

And here’s a friendly reminder (from–you guessed it–a homesteader who goofed in this department last year). Don’t get so busy and distracted this summer that you forget those fruit and nut trees you set out in the spring. Water and mulch your future orchard or nut grove whenever a week goes by without rain. And protect the trees from sun scald by wrapping or whitewashing their tender young trunks.

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