A Wood-Splitting Trick, Hen House Litter, Septic Tank Maintenance and More Country Lore

Tips from our readers.

| May/June 1984

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    Learn how to make a cookbook holder for easy referencing while cooking. 

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Unless you have goats to keep fast-growing summer grass from turning your yard into a hayfield, it's time to haul the lawn mower out of storage, clean it up, and get with the old push-and-pull routine again. Accordingly, our first tip this time around comes from Kenneth Hubbard of East Aurora, New York, who has some advice on mower maintenance.  

The real key to a smooth-running, clean-cutting mower is to have a blade that's not just sharp, but perfectly balanced, too. To get both, place the blade in a vise and hone both ends with a file, as you normally would. Then remove the blade and clamp a headless finishing nail between the jaws of the vise so that it extends horizontally. Now, hang the mower blade on the nail by the drive-shaft hole. The blade will tilt downward on the end that's heaviest. To balance it, simply file the weightiest end until it hangs level.

The result will be a sharp and perfectly balanced blade that will take a lot of the vibration out of your mechanical goat.

Let's head for the kitchen and give a listen to what Shauna Ellet of Rockdale, Texas has to say: 

Here's a handy idea I discovered a few years ago that helps me when I'm cooking from a cookbook . . . particularly if it's one of the smaller paperback volumes that are difficult to keep open to the page I want. Using a wire coat hanger, bend the corners in and around, then bend a small V in the center of the bottom for the book to rest on (see illustration). Place the device on a table or hang it on the knob of a cabinet door for eye-level reference while cooking. The hanger can easily be adjusted for various book sizes, too.

Whether you're still building fires for cool nights or are already getting a head start on next fall's woodcutting chores, here's a tip that should help you to save time and energy. It comes from Clarence Nye of Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. 

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