Handy Tips for Homesteaders: Mailing Cake, Keep Horses from Chewing Wood, Bathing Gloves and More

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Attach chicken wire to your wooden fence to discourage horses from chewing.

Bathing Gloves Save Water

Growing up in California, I learned at an early age that
water is precious. The first time I slept over at a
friend’s house, her mother asked me why I used a cup of
water to brush my teeth. With the innocence of a
seven-year-old, I asked her why she didn’t. Water prudence
is as natural to me as breathing. Beyond installing
aerators on all my faucets, constantly prowling for dreaded
leaks, and using low-flow toilets, I found a relatively
inexpensive and effective aid: bathing gloves. These gloves
are similar in purpose to loofah sponges but they don’t
mildew. I now buy less soap and spend less time in the
shower, with no sacrifice of cleanliness. I have found
these gloves in several different national stores, and have
included them in gift baskets for family and friends.

-Kate Christiansen
Norman, OK

Canning Cakes

My son was away in the service on his nineteenth birthday,
but I sent him a card, a present, and a birthday cake. I
had heard of mailing cakes to servicemen that arrive all in
crumbs, but I devised this method which should be useful to
anyone who wants to mail a homemade cake.

The solution is to bake your cake in cans. One-pound coffee
cans with snap-top plastic lids are perfect. Actually, any
reasonably sized can with a nice snap-top lid is great.
Make sure you line the can with waxed paper or aluminum
foil, and pour the batter in to about % level before baking
it in the usual way. Select a solid type of cake such as a
date cake, applesauce pound cake, etc. After the cake is
baked, allow it to cool thoroughly before putting on the
lid (which helps prevent “sweating” and sogginess), then
decorate the outside of the can with gift wrap paper or
colorful scraps of wallpaper. Wrap the whole thing in clear
plastic tied at the top with a ribbon. Pack it in a box and
send it. 1t will arrive safe in one piece and, hopefully,
delicious. But that part is up to you.

-Kay Haugaard
Pasadena, CA

Keep Your Horses from Chewing Fences

Many horses chew on wooden fences, especially if they are
confined in a small area. Horses that grow up in large
pastures and have room to roam are not as apt to develop
the wood-chewing habit. But almost every horse that starts
life in a small pen or pasture, corral, or stall will chew
wood, primarily because of boredom. Some horses are such
“beavers” that they can ruin a good fence in a very short
time.

Wood preservatives, old motor oil, and foul-tasting
applications used by horse owners to protect fences will
deter some of the chewers, but not all of them. Chemicals
put on fences can be harmful or toxic if a horse does keep
chewing.

Another way to protect wooden fencing is to cover it with
small-mesh chicken wire. A net wire fence with a top pole
can be protected from horse’s chewing if you cover the top
pole with chicken wire. Cut the chicken wire into strips
the proper size to go along the pole. Staple the wire at
frequent intervals so there are no loose parts or sharp
protrusions. A non-toxic wood preservative such as log oil
can be applied periodically with a brush in spite of the
chicken wire, and the poles will last a long time.

Chicken wire is not very expensive, especially when you
consider that a roll will cover a lot of fencing when cut
into the proper-size strips. It can be easily cut with tin
snips. Staples will cost a bit, since it takes quite a few
large ones to secure the wire properly so there will be no
loose portions that the horse can pull at, and no pieces of
chicken wire sticking out. All edges should be tucked
under. You need to use staples that are large enough to
hold securely and never pull out. Your time will be another
cost. But when you weigh these costs against having to
replace poles, boards, or put in new posts and redo
fencing, you’ll find that chicken wire is fairly cheap
insurance for guaranteeing much longer life for wooden
fences.

-Heather Thomas
Salmon, ID

Tomato Plants Prefer Hanes

I cut up panty hose into rubber bands and use them to hold
many things together. They never rot like rubber bands, and
they last forever. I use them to hold boxes together, and I
tie my tomatoes up with them. I even cut the panty part to
make large bands to hold my hair when I put on my bathing
cap or to hold my rollers on.

– Nancy Crawford
Ballston Spa, NY

A Tree Biologist’s Advice

I am a tree biologist and I would like to comment on Mitch
Culver’s suggestion to use old car tires to hold mulch
around the base of trees (Country Lore, June/July 1995).
It’s a resourceful idea, but if we place mulch within six
inches of the trunk, we increase the chances of rodent and
pathogen damage. Rather we suggest you keep mulch at least
six inches away from the trunk, and if staking is
necessary, use broad, belt-like flexible material that will
not injure the bark. You could use the tires to keep weed
eaters away, but you really don’t need grass under the
tree.

-John A. Keslick Jr.
Keslick & Son Modern
Arboriculture Products
& Service

West Chester, PA

Cornmeal Cure

My boy brought our dog in the house after the dog had met a
skunk. Once we put the dog out, the skunk smell still
lingered. I remembered talking to a fur buyer once about
how to get rid of skunk odor. I tried it and it worked.
Take a steel pan, put cornmeal in it, and put it on the
stove at a high temperature. As the cornmeal burns, the
skunk odor will disappear.

-Robert T. Edgell
Holloway, OH