Down-Home Country Lore: Sweet Potatoes, Lard, Mousetraps and More

Tips on every aspect of homesteading from the readers of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

| September/October 1976

If every one of today's homesteading families has learned as much from their ruralneighbors as we have from ours ... then there must be-buried just beneath the surfaceof MOTHER-landa whole mine of country lore thatshould 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.  

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. Soif you'd rather fix or improvise what you need, rather than order a for cash" replacement or make a trip to the storecheck in with us here at the Country Lore Column from time to time. You're our kind of people! 

Plucking Feathers: One of my favorite country consultants tells me that geese are easier to pluck if each fresh-killed bird is dipped in boiling water and then wrapped in a thick layer of hot, wet wool (old sweaters or shirts soaked in boiling water). Let the moist heat penetrate the down for 20—30 minutes before you start to remove the feathers.

Then, just before you begin to pluck one or two of the geese, snap off the end joints of their wings. The long, stiff, naturally joined feathers make a perfect whisk broom, according to James McPhea of Seaforth, Ontario, Canada.

Make Bread with Leftovers: When you raise your own food, it hurts to see even a dab of those goodies that you've known from the beginning become wasted leftovers at the end. (Do your dibs and dabs get lost at the back of the refrigerator the way mine do?) True, the pigs are ready and waiting. But before you fall back to that last resort, try Carol Glass's (of Troupsburg, New York) Everything Bread.

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