Incorporating the Simple Living Review, the Preparedness & Self-Reliance Review, as well as the Outdoor & Survival Review

More Make Do

In the last article I did mention that I could go on. Well, now I am.

This matter of “making do” can get to a passion, which is not a bad thing. If more people were “making do”, there would be less waste in this world.

Save your tin cans. I mentioned in an article some time ago a few things that you could use cans for1. Holding nails and screws, cleaning paint brushes, holding paint while you pretty some things up.2 Punch a hole in the center of the ends of two tin cans, attach a string and you have a boy's primitive telephone. I have two cans, one used to hold minced green chilies, the other is just a little bit bigger. I use them as biscuit cutters. They are just the right size for sourdough or baking powder biscuits.

Scrap wood can be gotten from building sites. Ask the foreman and he will probably tell you that whatever is in the dumpster, you can have. Wooden pallets can be used for everything from firewood to building fences. And same for the nails! You can buy wood such as slabs or tie ends pretty reasonable, also sawdust at sawmills.

The highway department went through this spring and trimmed trees and then ran the branches and such through a chipper. A lot of it was cedar. My wife and I went and got the equivalent of a pickup load and put those chippings around the bases of the trees in our yard.

We have two 100 gallon plastic stock tanks under the porch eaves to catch rainwater. There's room for a couple of more. Beats having to buy salt, not to mention the initial cost of a softener unit. We use it for laundry and baths. Just remember to cover the tanks to keep sunlight out once they are full.

Want to keep your wooden fence posts from rotting but don't want to use chemicals? Do what they did 200 years ago. Char the end that will go into the ground, and put then in small end first. Charred wood lasts for centuries. That's why archaeologists are so happy to find it at a dig. They can date it by scientific means to find out how long ago the site was occupied.

The books by Eric Sloane, “A Museum of Early American Tools”, “A Reverence for Wood” and “Diary of an Early American Boy”, should be on you bookshelf. Our early settlers were masters in making do with wood.

The editor reminded me of this one: save those cardboard tubes from paper towel and toilet tissue. They can be used for storing electric cord or, cut to length, filled with potting medium and used to start bedding plants. When the plants are ready you just put the whole thing into the garden into the ground. You'll have a cutworm collar and the tube will rot down enriching the soil.

The plastic bags that you get from grocery stores nowadays make good wastepaper basket liners. I prefer to ask for paper bags (paper bags are not in option in many countries – Ed.) because I can use them for patterns for making moccasins and other leather goods. They are also good for draining doughnuts and other fried food, after which the oil soaked paper makes a dandy fire starter.

Speaking of paper towels: they can be used to make your own seed tapes. Lay out several sections, spray with water. Place yours seeds down, lay another paper towel on top, spray with water, and roll up. Put in a bread bag or other plastic bag until you lay it out in the garden and cover it with a thin layer of soil. This is especially good for parsnip and carrot seed. We learned this trick from yet another boot that you should have on your shelf; “The Joy of Gardening” by Dick Raymond.

Another idea from “The Joys of Gardening” is to “multi-crop”. For instance, I plant carrots, lettuce and radishes together. They seem to help each other out. The I put trellises over the row and plat cucumbers at each leg. It makes a two-storey garden. Our tomatoes have carrots planted each cage. You can plant winter squash in your sweet corn rows.
There are many books that tell you about “companion planting”. It would not hurt to buy one. You can get two or three times the produce from the same plot.

In our area we have very high humidity in the spring. At least once a month I would have to clean all my leather goods. Years ago I used to shoe harness racing horses. The trainers would rub flax soap into the harnesses to keep them soft and mold free. So I bought some ©Murphy's oil lsoap and tried it. Sure enough, it worked. Now I only have to clean my saddles and boots and other leather goods about once a year only. I have tried other oil soaps but ©Murphy's works the best.

© Owen Newman, 2007

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