Australian enquiry book of household and general information/Odd Items for the Farm


To Polish Horns.—Scrape the horns smooth and level with a piece of glass (part of a broken bottle is the best for the purpose), then rub well with sandpaper. When as smooth as you can get them with this, take a piece of an old felt hat, and with some powdered charcoal and water rub as before, and lastly use putty powder or powdered rotten stone to rub with. Polish with a piece of soft felt and a little oil. This is an old bushman's way of polishing horns, and about the best I have heard of.

To Kill Insects for Keeping in a Museum.—Fill a wide-mouthed bottle one-third full of cyanide of potassium, broken up small and packed in to form a tolerably compact mass; then cut three or four discs of blotting paper just large enough to fit tightly, when pushed down on to the cyanide. Cork the bottle well, and when you want to kill an insect, open the bottle and drop him in on to the blotting paper; leave him in until he ceases to move and then remove him (dead) with your forceps. Do not smell the contents of the bottle, if you do you may become suddenly ill. The cyanide is a powerful poison, and must be carefully kept out of children's reach.

The Microscope in Farming.—In another part of this volume I have advocated every boy and girl having a magnifying glass or microscope; and here I wish to repeat the advice to all farmers, and every man who has anything to do with nature. A man who has no microscope sees but half of nature's work and wonders, and if they were more often carried, many of the diseases such as rust, mildew, etc., would be found out long before they become noticeable to the naked eye. Besides a man finds a never-ending source of pleasure in his tiny glass, which not only unveils to his view the mysteries of nature's laws and the beauties that are to be found in every thing, be it a leaf, flower, stick or stone, but it also reminds him that he too, with all his boasted knowledge and strength is but a tiny atom in the vast universe controlled by the Almighty's will and by His all-wise all-loving hand.

To Make Soft Soap.—Put into an iron pot with three gallons of boiling water, 8 lbs. of potash, broken into lumps. In another pot melt 3 lbs. of clarified fat. Put three gallons of hot water into a clean barrel, and add to it a pint alternately of the lye and fat, stirring thoroughly. Keep on adding the lye and fat, a single ladle full or pint at a time, until the barrel is full. Stir till it becomes a creamy mass. Store away for three months in a cool place when it will be ready for use.

To Tan a Rick Cover.—Make a solution of wattle bark and water, about 2 lbs. of bark to the gallon of water. Boil for a few minutes, let it stand an hour or so till cool, and strain off. Soak the cover in this for twenty four hours; rinse in clear water and hang up to dry. Mangrove bark makes an excellent tan. On the coast it is often used by the fishermen to tan their nets. Ironbark is also used for the purpose of tanning.

To Waterproof Calico.—Take 3 pints of linseed oil, 1 oz. sugar of lead, 4 ozs. white resin. Grind the sugar of lead with a little of the oil, then add the other ingredients and stir all well together in a large pot over the fire. Tack the calico loosely on a frame and apply the mixture hot with a brush, tent flies are often treated so by the diggers in districts where there are long wet seasons.

To Soften a Saddle—(A bushman's receipt.)—Mix together one pint of neat's-foot oil, 2 ozs. beef fat, and 2 ozs. bees' wax; mix till quite smooth, then apply with a rag and rub well in. The beauty of this is that the oil never exudes afterwards. All leather can be so treated.

A Good Flexible Paint for Buggy Hoods, etc.—Cut up a bar of good yellow soap and pour over it 5 or 6 quarts of boiling water; while still quite hot stir in as much good oil paint (of the colour preferred) as will make the mixture of the consistency required for use.

To Exterminate White Ants.—Many people object to using arsenic, but there is nothing so effectual in destroying these pests, and there is very little danger to other animal life if properly applied. From the end of November to the beginning of February is the best time to attack them, as it is their season for flying in swarms, and for making new homes. Find them out and if they have settled, make a break in their run, and put in as much arsenic as will lie on a sixpence. In an hour they will have closed up the break. Leave them alone for a few days, and you will find when you look again that they are all cleared out. If they have a great spread you will need to introduce the arsenic in more than one place. On fencing, about every 50 or 60 rods will be frequent enough. It is a mistake to disturb them very much, as in that case the black ants carry off the white and so much of the poison with them. The ants first eat the arsenic, and then the dead bodies until all are destroyed. Keep the arsenic in a small vial (well corked) and apply with a pen or quill. One shilling's worth will be enough to rid twenty buildings of the pest.

To Remove Rust.—Smear the rusted article with oil, let it stand a few hours, and then rub with unslaked lime reduced to a fine powder. Or, make a solution of potassium cyanide (about ½ oz. to 2 ozs. water) then clean with a tooth brush and paste made of potassium cyanide, castile soap, whitening and water, of the consistency of thick cream.

To Preserve Sacks.—Make a tan of bark (about 2 lbs. to the gallon of boiling water, will make a good strong tan), let it stand five or six hours and strain off the clear solution. Soak the sacks in this for thirty-six hours, then wash them in clean water and dry quickly. Treated in this way they will last twice as long as if not done.

Bird Lime (a bush recipe).—Boil one pint of linseed oil with a tablespoonful of resin (powdered) until it forms a stringy paste when cold. If it gets hard too quickly, add a little glycerine.

To Waterproof Cart Coverings.—To one gallon of linseed oil add 1 lb. litharge and 1 oz. of umber. Mix well and cover with 1 oz. of vegetable black. Paint first on one side, and then on the other.

Turpentine Soap.

Ingredients: 3 lbs. common soap, 8 quarts of water, 10 tablespoonsful of spirits of turpentine, 7 tablespoonsful of alcohol.

Mode: Cut up the soap and melt in the water. Put into a stone jar and add the turpentine and alcohol; stir well and cork tightly. For washing infected clothes make very hot suds with some of the soap, and let the clothes remain in it for half an hour; then wash out and rinse well.

Soap.—Every farmer should make his own soap. The proportions are 6 lbs. soda, 3 lbs. quick-lime. Boil two hours in three gallons of water. Next day strain off the lye, and add 6 lbs. of fat. Boil till it thickens or about an hour and a half. Pour into a wooden box (previously prepared), leave a day or two to harden, and then cut into bars or pieces. The above proportions are the best for ordinary household soap.

Axle Grease.—For axle grease any household fat will do, so long as all salt is washed out of it. Mutton tallow with a proportion of black lead worked into it makes a very good lubricant, especially for heavy vehicles.

To Keep Rats from the Granary.—Tear up two or three newspapers in small bits, pour a little warm water over them and let them steep, then work into a pulp. Make a strong solution of oxalic acid, dip the pulp into it, and while still wet fill in the the holes of the rats or mice. As a rule they will be cleared out in less than a week, and if you catch one you will find all the skin off his paws and snout. Bandicoots can also be banished in the same way—and native cats, too (the latter from the fowl house).

To Make Gunpowder.—Away in the far bush in the old days, when there was a difficulty and delay in the carriage of stores, some of the squatters used to make their own gunpowder, and it is to one of these I am indebted for the following: Sulphur, 10 parts; charcoal, 15 parts; nitrate of potash, 75; these are the proportions, and which must be weighed exactly, after being pulverised separately. Then mix them together and continue pounding, adding sufficient water to dampen, and make the mixture roll out into thin cylinders. In this form let it dry, when it can be broken up into grains and is ready for use.

To Clean a Saddle—Clean thoroughly first with soft soap and warm water, rub perfectly dry, and then rub in well, though lightly, some bullocks' or horses' blood.

To Make an Emery Wheel.—Take a solid wheel of pine or any similar wood, or get someone to turn one for the purpose; then prepare some good glue and put it on the surface of the wheel hot, with a brush. It will require two coats, let the first be a light one, and when it is dry apply the second, and then as quickly as possible dust on as much emery as the glue will hold. When this is dry, apply another coat of glue and emery. An emery wheel is a very useful thing in the bush, and particularly near the sea, where needles and such like requisites are apt to get rusty and blunt.

To Restore Varnish on Furniture.—Mix linseed oil and turpentine in equal quantities. Apply with a soft rag, rubbing in well and wiping off with another rag. Polish with an old silk handkerchief. Chamois leather should not be used on varnished articles.

Australian Equiry Book of Household and General Information 1894 page 284.png

Whooping cough cold & slight feverish symptoms on 8 or 10 days the convulsive whoop attacks 1 or 2 - 10 oz every 15 in 24 hrs. Warm room. Flannel Diet light & nourishing. Fish milk light puddings new laid eggs. Cure 1/2 pint white vinegar break freshly laid egg - when egg is dissolved add 1/2 lb of lickcandy Dose 3 or 2 tablespoonsful per day. (illegible text) & garlick shred 1 gill each, sweet oil 1 gill shred in oil in covered dish. Then strain & add 1 gill honey. Take (illegible text) & spirits of canphor each 1/2 oz Bussle (illegible text) 23 oz 1 tea strain 3 or 4 (illegible text)