Farming Advice and Folklore: Penlights, Removing Labels and Grating Cheese

Farming advice and folklore from MOTHER and her readers, including checking your mailbox with a penlight, removing labels with oil, easier cleaning with oil for cheese graters, and more.

| September/October 1986

Oiling cheese grater for cleanup

When grating foods, especially such clingables as cheese and lemon rind, rub a little salad oil on the grater first.


MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their farming advice, fun tips and country folklore, including information on mail and penlights, and using oil to remove labels and ease cleaning of cheese graters. 

MOTHER's Country Farming Advice and Folklore

Got a Screw Loose?

I've found a way to deal with screws that have worked their way out of wood because the original hole is stripped or has become too large because of movement — in a hinge, for example, or on a chair leg. I simply tap one or two (or three!) toothpicks into the hole, secure them with glue if necessary, break them off flush with the wood's surface, and put the screw back in. This hasn't failed yet! — William Bachtel, Mishawaka, Indiana 

Lighter Mail

My husband and I live in the country, but we commute daily to the city to work. It's usually dark when we get home, and our mailbox is quite a ways from the house. We placed a small penlight on the inside of the mailbox door, and now, with just a push of a button, we can see what's inside the box and make sure we don't drop any mail. — C. Edwards, Boyd, Texas 

Toast Your Metal

Quite often, after a crack in a metal tool or piece of equipment is repaired by welding, another crack will soon appear as an extension of the welded one. To avoid this the next time you make a similar repair, first drill a 1/8" or 1/2" hole at the end of the crack. Plug-weld the hole and then weld the crack itself. The undamaged metal will have no weak point to encourage further splitting. — Guy DeVault, Fort Collins, Colorado 

Needle in a Smokestack

Are you always losing needles in your sewing box? Just take the filter off a cigarette and insert it into the hole of a large spool of thread, empty or full. It's a perfect way to store those elusive needles. — Opal Farmer, Sonora, Mexico 

Use Oil, Not Elbow Grease

An old and dear neighbor showed me how to deal with those pesky price tags and other adhesive labels that refuse to come unstuck. After peeling off what I easily can of the label, I gently rub the remainder with a dab of salad oil on a cloth. In a short time the residue is gone, and I've saved myself a lot of frustration. This works equally well on metal, enamel, glass, plastic, and vinyl. — Lori McGrath, Idaho Springs, Colorado 

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