MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their farming advice, fun tips and country folklore, including a dollar transformed into a ruler, how to foil pesky mice and storing garlic cloves in cooking oil.
The Dollar Rules!
Former staffer B.V. Alvarez, of Roanoke, Virginia, has found something to do with his money besides spend it. B.V. reports that all American paper currency measures just a fraction over or under six inches. Thus, by folding a bill once to halve its length and then opening it up and folding each half into three even parts, you'll have a one-to six-inch ruler that—unless you're flat broke—will always be as near as your pocket or purse.
A Hot Tip
"Don't throw out baking soda that no longer effectively deodorizes your refrigerator," writes Canadian reader Jim Payette, of Soo, Ontario. Jim goes on to say that "even months-old soda can be used to extinguish all types of fires (wood, grease, etc.). Simply stir up the old soda, pour it into a coffee can or similar container with a lid, and place the can in a handy spot —in a corner of the kitchen or near a woodstove, for example. If a fire breaks out, a few handfuls of baking soda tossed at the base of the flames will quickly cool things down. This is especially appropriate for use on cast iron stoves, where the sudden cooling effect of water could crack or warp the metal."
Patty Pritchett's cat, Charlie, was doing his feline finest to keep her Houston, Texas, home free of rodents—but wasn't racking up too good a score. Then Patty hit on a way to tip her kitty off to a mouse's presence. She crinkled up a large square of kitchen foil and pressed it out more or less flat again. At bedtime each night, she placed the foil in the middle of the kitchen floor with a hunk of bait (some kind that Charlie wouldn't touch!) as a centerpiece. The subtle sound of tiptoeing on tinfoil got Charlie's attention, and the Pritchett house is now mouse-free.
Porcine Means Clean
"I keep plain old bacon fat around the garage to scrub my hands after working on the car or painting," writes Canadian subscriber Mike Carlos, of Parksville, British Columbia. "The fat removes the dirt, and hot water and soap remove the fat. This down-home `lotion' leaves my skin both clean and soft, and it costs nothing."
Hemp Help for Arthritis Sufferers
Irma Wilson, of Seminole, Oklahoma, writes that her arthritis is so bad in the mornings that until recently just getting out of bed was a painful ordeal. Then she came up with the idea of screwing a large metal eye hook into one of the ceiling joists above her bed. Irma attached a sturdy rope to the hook so that its knotted end would hang a couple of feet above her pillow. Nowadays, she just reaches for the rope and starts her mornings off with a caffeine-free lift.
Hold That Hose!
The inventor of the swiveling hose holder illustrated here is Santa Rosa, California, reader Bill Krumbein, who says: "I got tired of dragging a hose across my garden and accidentally wiping out plants, so I designed this semi-overhead system. The easy-to-make rig works great: I can reach all of my garden while still controlling the location of excess hose."
Garlic Under Glass
When you harvest garlic this year, take a tip from Dixie Collum. The Parma, Ohio, reader stores the peeled cloves in fruit jars, covering the buds with cooking oil. This keeps them firm and fresh, and when a jar is emptied of garlic, the aromatic oil can be used for greasing pans and casserole dishes, imparting a light garlic flavor to food. Garlic lovers will discover that the oil also can be made into delicious salad dressings.
Through the years we've all probably discovered a few practical, down-home, time-tested solutions to the frustrating little problems of everyday life. Why not share your best "horse sense" with the rest of MOTHER's readers? Send your suggestions to Country Lore, THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Hendersonville, NC. A one year subscription — or a one year extension of an existing subscription — will be sent to each contributor whose tip is printed in this column. — MOTHER.
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