Simple hacks to make life on the homestead a little easier:
1. Some wood pallets are safe to use, others are treated with chemicals. Pallets are generally marked with 2 letters that represent how the wood was treated. HT means that it was heat treated, MB means that it was treated with Methyl Bromide, and DB means that it was simply debarked.
2. Use your leftover cooking water to water your garden. When you boil/steam vegetables they leave behind vitamins and minerals in the water. These nutrients can help give your garden plants a boost.
3. Use some club soda for watering your plants. Club soda is rich in phosphate as well as other nutrients. A study by the University of Colorado Boulder found that using Club soda could double the rate of plant growth.
4. If you strip a screw, wrap a rubber band around the bit and try again. The rubber will cause it to fit more snugly. On a side note: you might also want to make sure you are turning it in the right direction. I have done that more times than I like to admit.
5. Try using dry ice to get rid of gophers. I have literally tried everything including urine. Dry ice is the only thing that seems to really work. Put it in the gopher holes and the fumes will kill them.
6. Put your screws and nails in Mason jars rather than keeping them in a bag or tin can. This will make it easier to find the right screws and nails when you are looking for them. Before doing this I would just keep them in the bag that they came in from the hardware store. This resulted in torn bags and endless searching to find the right screws.
6. If you are building a raised garden, lay boards on the bottom before adding your soil. This will help prevent gophers from digging up through your raised bed.
7. Baking soda: Baking soda is a great thing to keep around the house (even if you aren’t into baking). You can use baking soda to clean up puke on your carpet. You simply mix the baking soda with water to make a paste. You them scrub the area (after cleaning up) and then vacuum it up after it dries.
8. You can save a lot of money on food by buying food that is either in season or about to expire and can it for later. You can also put the food in a plastic bag and dunk it in water. The water will force all of the air out of the top of the bag. Be careful to not let any water in. It basically works as a vacuum sealer.
9. Soak wilted veggies in cold water. This is the same trick used by grocery stores. The periodically mist their veggies to keep them looking fresh. It basically re-hydrates the cells and keeps them from shrinking.
10. Activated Charcoal: You can use activated charcoal for everything from absorbing harmful chemicals that have been ingested to cleaning your teeth. You can use charcoal in water to absorb harmful chemicals. It is also used in potting soil as an insecticide and fertilizer. Keeping charcoal in your tool box will help prevent your tools from rusting.
11. Put your food scraps through a blender with some water. Pour the mixture around your plants as fertilizer.
12. Mosquito repellent: You can burn lavender incense to ward off pesky insects. You can also rub yourself with fresh peppermint leaves or catnip to fend of mosquitoes.
13. Wax Cheese: You can preserve cheese for a significant amount of time by simply dipping it in melted wax and allowing it to dry. You can then peel the wax of when you are ready to eat it.
14. You can preserve your eggs by soaking them in oil. The oil will help seal the eggs and keep them from evaporating. You can store eggs for a couple months as long as you keep them cool (no warmer than 55 degrees) and at least 70% humidity for long term storage.
15. Save your bacon fat. You have re-use it for frying other food.
16. Save your egg shells: Egg shells are great for the garden and worms love them. You can also crush them and feed them to your chickens. They will provide your chickens with much needed calcium.
17. Add wood ash to your garden or compost. Wood ash can be a valuable source of lime, potassium and trace elements. However, you want to be careful not to overdo it.
18. You can use the peels from citrus fruit to clean off rust. You can also stuff them into shoes to get rid of bad odors. Citrus peels can also be dried and ground up to be used as seasoning.
19. Get rid of fruit flies: Fill a mason jar 1/3 of the way with apple vinegar. Add a teaspoon of dish soap and stir well. Leave the container near the location where the fruit flies congregate.
20. Wasp trap: Hang a small piece of meat in a bottle with oil. The wasps will feed on the meat and get heavier. In doing so, they will dip slightly when they take off and fall into the oil.
21. Use egg shells to improve coffee: You can add crushed egg shells to your coffee filter along with your coffee grounds. This will make your coffee taste less biter.
22. During the winter months open your curtains on clear days when the sun is out in order to utilize the suns natural energy.
23. During the winter months put some short screws through the soles of old boots or shoes. The screws will help you gain gain traction in the slippery snow.
24. During the fall and winter months, try parking so that your vehicle is facing east so that the sun can warm up your car and melt the frost.
25. When painting or varnishing, pull a rubberband from top to bottom across the open can. The stretched rubber band makes a great paintbrush wiper that keeps paint from dripping off the end of the brush.
26. If you are wearing wool socks, try wearing a thin pair of cotton socks underneath. They will help get better traction.
27. You can kill broad leaf weeds with cheap Vodka.
28. Don’t hit the snooze button. Your body naturally starts to wake up a half hour before you open your eyes. Your body also releases melatonin when you go to sleep. If you try going back to sleep for a few minutes your body receives conflicting messages. Hence the reason people are grumpy in the morning.
29. Check if your seeds are still viable by covering them with a damp paper towel and place them in a warm area. If they start sprouting within a few days than you know that they are still viable.
30. Have fly problems in your coop during hot weather? Hang Vanilla scented air fresheners around the coop. You won’t believe the difference
31. Soak candles in water mixed with a liberal amount of salt. Dry them well before use and you will have drip proof candles.
32. Rub wax on your snow shovel in order to prevent snow from sticking to it.
33. If you have been working with oil based wood stains and paints and get a bunch on your hands, use olive oil to take it right off. If there’s something stubborn add a little bit of salt in with it. This is pretty good for glues and paints that aren’t water based too, as well as plasticine. It works for anything that is oil based since oil is a solvent for oil in the same way that water is a solvent for water.
34. Mix 2 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol. Put it in a spray bottle. When the windows of your car are frosted over, spray them down with the mixture and it will melt away.
35. Cutting foil with scissors will sharpen them. I make hats with the leftovers. Win-win.
36. Toothpaste gets rid of tree sap on your hands.
37. Vinegar dissolves soap scum. Vinegar can also be used to remove surface rust .
38. Don’t lick your fingers after shoveling shit.
39. Don’t squat with your spurs on.
Add your own farm hacks in the comments below…