Halloween Dinner, Wood Hauling, Recycled Yard Waste, and Other Country Lore

Readers share their tips for Halloween dinner, wood hauling, yard waste recycling, and other homesteading needs.

| September/October 1980

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    One Maine homesteader uses wire twist ties as "chicken tags" that let him know which laying hens are pulling their weight and which are ready for the stew pot.
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    Whether in a pipe—or your head—a "flashlight stethoscope" can reveal the presence of plumbing leaks.

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HALLOWEEN DINNER: Want to give your youngsters a nice—and healthful—Halloween dinner? Then serve up Alice McCain's menu of "witches' noses," "ants on logs," and a "jack-o'-lantern pizza!" In case you're wondering just what the Woodinville, Washingtonian's gruesome-sounding delectables are ... well, witches' noses are simply small, uncut garden carrots ... ants on logs are peanut butter-filled celery sections that have been topped with raisins ... and a lack-o'-lantern pizza is the famous Italian dish covered with a decorative facial design made out of cheese, olives, and salami!

CHICKEN TAGS: Nobody wants to put his or her best laying hens in the stew pot. Fortunately, Daniel Bates of Monhegan Island, Maine knows a clever way to figure out which biddies are really earning their keep ... and which freeloading fowl are just driving up the feed bill. The Northeasterner keeps a supply of short wire twist ties in his pocket when he visits his birds' coop. Every time he notices a hen announcing a newly laid egg, Daniel gently bands one of the productive fowl's legs.

After a few weeks of this routine, the island homesteader begins to stew up his untagged birds and to watch the expense bill for his hen fruit go down. And Daniel keeps his tagging "records" current by removing all the bands—and starting the whole process over—every six months.

WOOD HAULING: "My woodshed stands downhill from my house," says Lone Pine, California homesteader Earl T. Richardson. "And for a long time I used a big wheelbarrow to cart the fuel up to my door, but—with every passing season—those loads were getting heavier and heavier. Since I'm only 70 years old, I knew the problem couldn't have been a sign of my age creeping up on me ... but I also knew I was facing a difficulty that definitely needed remedying.

"So I made a 5'-long, unlidded box—with one end open and a width slightly greater than my cut fuel's length—out of scrap plywood, and wired that crate to a lightweight, 2-wheeled hand truck. I can load this rig just as full as I did my wheelbarrow, but—since I now pull instead of push my wood loads—the hand truck is a lot less strenuous for me to use. True, I have the nagging feeling that this wood hauler, like that wheelbarrow, may get harder and harder to tote as the second 70 years slip by ... but I'll worry about solving that problem when I get to it!"

RECYCLED YARD WASTE: Every fall, millions of folks in cities, small towns, and suburbs gather up their yard leaves into big plastic bags and have them carted away to dumps. But Debbie Poineau has discovered one, two, three worthwhile uses for the wasted lawn gleanings. The Boyne City, Michigan resident simply phones her local trash collection agency and gets dozens of the filled sacks delivered—for free—to her house. (Rural folks could pick up a supply of the bagged tree leavings when they're making a trip to town.) Debbie then [1] piles the sacks against the foundation of her house to help insulate the dwelling against those cold winter winds, [2] empties the bags' partially decomposed contents onto her garden and compost pile the next spring, and [3] then reuses the leftover containers for her own year's supply of trash bags!


Fermentation Frenzy!

September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pa

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


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