Mouse Bait, Insulated Chicken Coop, Grow Potatoes, and Other Country Lore

This installment of a regular homesteading feature examines a novel type of mouse bait, an insulated chichen coop, and the method one family uses to grow potatoes.

| August/September 1994

  • 145 country lore - insulated chicken coop interior
    Thinking an insulated chicken coop would provided a warmer, happier home for their chickens, Pierette and C.J. Miller stapled plastic sheeting to the wall studs and filled the space with packing peanuts.
  • 145 country lore - insulated chicken coop exterior
    Exterior of the insulated chicken coop.
  • 145 country lore - scott hixenbaugh, grow potatoes
    12 year old Scott Hixenbaugh, with the cows on his family's West Virginia farm, has a good handle on how to grow potatoes.
  • 145 country lore - ice cream cupcakes
    Bake cupcake batter in ice cream cones. Viola! Ice cream cupcakes.

  • 145 country lore - insulated chicken coop interior
  • 145 country lore - insulated chicken coop exterior
  • 145 country lore - scott hixenbaugh, grow potatoes
  • 145 country lore - ice cream cupcakes

The following housekeeping tips and other bits of country lore were submitted by readers. 

Mouse Bait

If you've been unsuccessful in trapping mice, try using cotton soaked in lard or bacon grease. Such bait will have a double attraction for the rodents. They like lard (or any animal fat) as food and will be tempted to use the cotton for their nests. Furthermore, the soaked puffs are easily fastened to the trap's bait pan.

—Russell Skinner Central Point, Oregon 

Insulated Chicken Coop

My wife and I would like to tell you what we did to insulate our chicken coop. We knew from the beginning that we couldn't spend much money on this project, but the answer came to us in our Christmas gifts—Styrofoam packing chips! After we saw an ad in our local paper we received a couple of good sources. We loaded bag upon bag into our truck and took them home. We vapor barriered, starting from the floor up stapling a few feet at a time. Filling the spaces between the studs was quick and easy because the chips poured straight out of the bags. We then used salvaged paneling and placed them backwards to use the unmarked mahogany as sheathing. Voila! A cozy poultry palace and less garbage in a landfill site. It takes an amazing amount of this packing material (in our case a 10' x 13' building) to be used in this fashion.

—Pierrette & C.J. Miller & family South Gillies, Ontario  

How We Grow Potatoes

My name is Scott Hixenbaugh and I am 12 years old. I am writing to this magazine because I like your articles. I want to tell you about our farm. We have cows, cats, dogs, chickens, and pigs. We do not own a lot of today's things, such as a riding lawn mower. We rough it around here. We also grow a garden that we grow every year. We grow carrots, tomatoes, beets, potatoes and other vegetables. MOTHER EARTH NEWS gives us ways to do things such as how we grow our potatoes. The way we grow them is we mix the dirt and put the seed potatoes on the ground, put fertilizer on them, and spread hay on them 2-3 feet high. That way we know as it compresses it will still be pretty thick.

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