Barbed Wire Roller, Modified Garden Hoe, Garden Produce Management, and More

A selection of tips and suggestions from the Mother's Down-Home Country Lore feature, including ways of making a barbed wire roller, modifying a garden hoe, and managing garden produce.

| July/August 1980

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    Many readers pointed out that the end result of warning a privy with burning paper could very well be an exploding outhouse.
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    Managing your garden produce is sometimes very like corralling a stampede of vegetables.

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LEVELING FURNITURE: Sometimes a particular "horse sense" solution in this column prompts readers to send in their own—and often better—ways of dealing with the same problem. For instance, Jim Whiffed recently matched Tom Butler's technique for leveling the legs of unevenly balanced chairs with a fix-it method that should be just dandy whenever one of the seat's supports is longer than the other three. Jim simply sets the faulty chair on a table top ... In such a way that the three equal-length legs rest on the flat surface while the extra-long "limb" hangs over the table's edge. Then the Tacoma, Washington wood worker marks that odd brace where it meets the flat top, saws the leg flush, and thereby levels his chair.

BARBED WIRE ROLLER: Another recently received "I've got a better idea" letter contained Homer Bloomfield's solution to the problem of unrolling barbed wire by yourself. The Garrison, Kentucky native makes an easy-to-handle wire spool steerer out of an 18" length of threaded axle, a 15" piece of 1/2", 3/4", or 1" pipe, some axle-fitting nuts and washers, and an old lawnmower handle. Mr. Bloomfield simply fits the smaller rod inside the pipe section, pokes both pieces through the spool of barbed wire, and bolts the axle's ends onto the bottom of the lawnmower handle. The resulting rollable rig works so well that it enabled Homer's dad single handedly to unwind the prickly fence wire around 80 acres of heavy forest and brush!

EXPLODING OUTHOUSE: And, every once in a while, a reader will write in to point out that a "horse sense" solution we ran in this column could, in fact, be downright dangerous! More than one person warned us that E.D. Church's suggestion that folks warm a cold outhouse by stuffing a burning sheet of newspaper down the building's "porthole" was—due to a possible accumulation of methane gas—likely to cause an explosion! Most such writers preferred taking a homemade Styrofoam toilet seat out with them when they need to visit the line house in chilly weather.

NAIL PULLING: Most recently, a number of folks wrote in to say that one of the DOWN-HOME NAIL LORE entries we ran could be hazardous. As Iowa City, Iowa's Pat Burke put it, "You should never `set' the claw of a hammer into a headless nail that needs pulling by banging the face of that tool with another hammer. A glancing blow can all too easily cause a chip of steel to fly off one hammer and into a person's eye! Instead, either push the hammer head onto the nail with your hand—and then pull the tool's handle down sideways—or grab the end of a headless fastener with Vise Grips ... and use that implement's `bulldog tight' hold to pry the nail out."

PORTABLE RABBIT CAGES: Do you want to save on rabbit feed and cut down your lawn-clipping chores? Then try the suggestion of Rainelle, West Virginia homesteader Wayne Fugate, and raise your weaned bunnies in portable bottomless pens! Move the cages to different sections of the lawn each day, and let the furry critters nibble away to their hearts' content. (You will, though, still need to provide the mammals with plenty of water, a small amount of supplemental feed, and—if you live in fox or weasel country—a safe, elevated shelter at night.)

GARDEN VARMINTS: You say you've got varmints in your vegetable patch? Well, here are a few reader-tested techniques to make sure you get to harvest your luscious fresh crops yourself:


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