I grew up in the city, so living on a family farm was a big shock to me when I got married. Since everything was brand new to me, I took plenty of mental notes about the things I saw going on from day to day. Many things I noticed were quite practical, and always frugal. Farmers know how to stretch a penny and make something useful from a handful of seemingly useless items. Here are a few of the frugal tips I’ve picked up over the years.
4 Frugal Tips from the Farm
- Curing a cat’s hairballs. If you have cats, you know they tend to disgorge disgusting hairballs in the most inconvenient places (like your favorite slippers), but hairballs also interfere with your cat’s digestive health. To keep your cats from accumulating hairballs, feed them a can of tuna in oil (not water) once a month. It helps the hair pass safely through their digestive system and they LOVE the tuna treat. (Additionally, if you have bunnies, a few chunks of Papaya every week will keep them from developing hairballs. Hairballs can be a serious medical problem for rabbits, and the papaya saves you from a pricey vet bill.)
- Emergency wound care. Accidents happen on the farm. Animals slip and fall, get caught in fences, and eat things they shouldn’t. We got called out late one night to help out an Amish neighbor whose sheep had gotten caught in some old barbwire fence on an abandoned farm nearby. I watched in wonder as the Amish man cleaned the sheep’s cuts with diesel fuel in the field. We carried her to the barn to keep warm and recover, and that sheep’s wounds healed beautifully without a trace of infection. Now, I don’t know if diesel fuel is safe for everyday use (probably not), but in an emergency when nothing else is available, it worked like a charm. And I’ve seen several old farmers quickly rinse a cut with diesel fuel, then fresh water, before bandaging it.
- WD-40, the wonder spray. I did a little research once about WD-40, and it was originally intended to stop corrosion on missile fuselages. We’ve used it to clean hard water buildup off canning jars, shower doors, and feed troughs, as well as getting bubble gum out of a cow’s tail and the living room carpet. It gets rusted bolts unstuck, lubricates tractor parts, and cleans grease like nobody’s business. In fact, the WD-40 company has a list of over 2,000 uses for the product.
- Every summer, we get out the canning equipment and prepare for the endless parade of veggies, jars, and boiling water that fills the pantry with yummy goodness. To clean brass and copper pots, we fill the basins with ice, sprinkle with salt and a dash of lemon juice and shake till clean. The metal shines like new and this process is healthier (and cheaper) than using chemical polishes.
Bonus Tip!: We also use old newspapers and a spray bottle filled with water or vinegar to clean the grimiest windows without smudges, which is so much cheaper than practically every other solution available.