Down-Home Country Lore: Safe Rat Poison, Stove Cleaning, Horse Hoof Care, and More

Readers offer their down home discoveries and tips for a variety of things, including horse hoof care, stove cleaning, and safely poisoning rats.

| March/April 1980

Tips, tricks, ideas, and innovations from the minds of MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers.

Handling Barbed Wire

"Handling heavy rounds of barbed wire is an easy two-person job," notes Bob Whitlock of Fletcher, Oklahoma. "All you have to do is poke a pipe section through the spool's center hole, have each worker grab an end of the conduit, and simply unroll your fencing.

"But last fall I had to tackle the same task alone. First I tried the Charles Atlas, lift-the-pipe-by-yourself method (groan!), and then took a crack at the kick-the-spool-from-behind-and-watch-it-zig-zag-over-the-whole-countryside technique. Frustrated by those disasters, I even tried attaching the pipe/spool rig to my pickup truck and driving down the line . . . but the dang wire snagged and tangled like a beginner's fishing tackle.

"Finally, though, I did something right: I tied a piece of rope to each pipe end and—walking backward—pulled the wire roll while holding my homemade steering traces!"

While Bob Whitlock found that unrolling barbed wire by yourself ain't always easy, John and Hope McKinley know that securing the thorny line against fence posts — without any help — is no cinch, either. So every time one of the Niangua, Missouri couple has to "string up" alone, he or she first cuts a two-foot-long, Y-shaped sapling branch ... and notches the "lonely end" of that wood with a chain saw. Then when the fence-laying McKinley comes to a post, he or she grabs a barb of the wire in the sapling's notch, puts the double-pronged stick end on the ground, and leans against the wire holder to keep the to-be-fastened line taut. The stratagem lets John or Hope keep both hands free to place the staple and hold the hammer. . . and makes fence-tacking a smooth one man or one woman job.

Safe Rat Poison

Looking for a safe rat poison? Jim Thorgesen just places jar lids filled with some carbonated soda pop (the Mission Hills, Californian's varmints like Coca Cola) in strategic areas. The rodents eagerly slurp up the sugary liquid . . . but, since they can't burp, eventually "pop" and die. And — you may well wonder — does Jim's bubbly exterminator really work? Well, a friend of his tried the ploy in a service station one night ... and next morning shoveled away three bushels of rats!

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