Mother's Down-Home

Tips from Dorothy Ruef on building a more humane mousetrap, John Berninger on keeping moles out of the garden, Bob Zahirsky on buttering corn, Carolyn Velvick on grain-drying, Elnora Borrous on boiling eggs, Donal Peterson onloosening eggs from the skillet, Al Jensen, on keeping sauerkraut from molding, Gnee Zins on making a water level, Ivan Nichols on setting a post in a posthole, Don Stewart on a simple use for soap slivers, Janet Guyett on transplanting strawberries, Virginia Hansen on preserving eggs, Sims Potthoff on cleaning old guitar strings, Guido and Brenda Dnzler on using water from steamed vegetables, Lou Hughbaanks on fence mending.

| March/April 1978

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Find a better mousetrap? No. But Dorothy Ruef of Gualala, California at least has a more humane one. Take a smooth-sided galvanized or plastic bucket-at least a foot deep-and bait it with tempting, aromatic morsels (such as bacon, cheese, or an old peanut butter sandwich). Next, place the pall someplace where the mice can easily "drop in" to it ... near a popular (with the vermin anyway) shelf or around cupboards that the little rodents seem to frequent. Then (see illustration) tape a cardboard wrapping paper/paper towel tube to the bucket so that it can be used as a stairway by the small pests.

Mice just can't resist the lure of a tunnel to explore, especially when it has an enticing odor at the other end ... but after they traverse the tube and drop into the pail for their treat ... they'll discover-as you will-that mice can't climb out of buckets. You then need only carry your "prize" of cheese-nappers (still in their temporary home) down the road a comfortable distance, dump 'em out, and?surprise!-you've painlessly converted house mice to field mice. Or, it you've the stomach for it, drown the little thieves.

Moles can be as much of a nuisance outdoors as mice are indoors ... and moles were definitely a problem to the rows of peas and corn in John Berninger's garden in Moores Hill, Indiana. After trying just about everything to get rid of the critters, John noticed that the burrowing animals often bumped right into the foot of the mole trap that he had been using (rather unsuccessfully) ... and then just dug around it.

In an effort to take advantage of this "hit and run" activity, John placed sticks in the ground (children love to help with this project) throughout the rows of peas and corn. Sure enough. The moles now hit the sticks, go around 'em, and thereby miss most of the garden fare. John tells us, "They still get some of our plants but we now get most ... and all live happily".

While we're on the subject of drying corn Bob Zahlrsky of Canal Fulton, Ohio has some advice on wetting corn ... wetting those golden ears with butter, that is. After cooking a batch of the grain, pour the still-hot water off into a heat resistant quart (or thereabouts) jar. Fill the container about half full. Then drop in 1/4 stick of butter ... which should proceed to melt and rise to the surface of the liquid. All that's left is to dip those ears of sweet corn right into the jar for a tasty, even application of butter ... with no waste!

If John ever gets that corn past the moles and out of the ground he's sure to be interested in this novel grain-drying method that a neighbor in Caldwell, Idaho shared with Carolyn Velvick. First make a bag—about the size of a pillow. case-from any porous cloth (such as muslin).


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