It’s that time of year again for Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day.

Typically, in the badlands, out in the middle of nowhere, where I live, we have blizzards. Extremely cold, with lots of snow and drifts up to 20 feet high. It’s tough for the ranchers to get to the cattle to keep them fed. I am thankful for tractors with big feeding scoops. How well I remember spending hours just scooping snow to reach the cattle, and digging out the haystacks so we could feed them. We are blessed to have newer machinery with a cab so the operator can keep warm when it’s below zero and the wind is howling.

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts it will be ‘mild and snowy or mild and wet’ in my area. It’s been drier than usual the last few years leading to horrible prairie fires and short hay crops. We hope we will have enough to stretch into springtime.

I wonder if the groundhog will see his shadow? If the groundhog sees his shadow he goes back in his hole to sleep for another 6 weeks, according to Folklore.

Valentine’s Day brightens the month of February. I wonder if people still make homemade valentines. At the school in the small town where I grew up, there was always a big box sitting on a table near the teacher’s desk, covered with red paper and hearts made of scraps of lace or other trimmings. There was a big slit in the top of the box where the children dropped all of the Valentines cards they had made.

In our family, we made a lot of homemade valentines because there were eight kids.  A package of red construction paper didn’t cost much, and buying that many valentines for each kid to take to school would have been expensive.  It was only good manners and understood by all that every single child got a valentine from every classmate, no matter if they were in the middle of a huge spat!

To our delight, on Valentine’s Day, at the appointed time, the box was opened and the Valentines were handed out. 

Enjoy the month.

This Month’s Helpful Hints

Egg Shell Starter Cups For Plants

As you use eggs for cooking or baking, save the shells and dry them well. Around mid-March, fill some of them with potting soil and use a foam egg carton for a holder, start some of your slower germinating seeds. When it’s warm enough to set them outside in the garden plant the seedlings along with the eggshell. The shell will fall apart and help to fertilize the plant. 

This is an old trick my grandmother used during the depression.

(tip submitted by AS, MN)

Recycle Water

A couple of years ago, I bought a dehumidifier for my basement.  It has a bucket that needs to be emptied every so often and since it’s nice soft water, I’ve been using it for my houseplants. If I have extra water, I dump it into my washing machine. I figure I paid for that water and why just dump it down the drain?

(tip submitted by BK, ME)

Recycle that Old Magnetic Knife Holder

We found a magnetic knife holder in some of my grandma’s “stuff” when we moved her from her house and into an apartment. She didn’t need it anymore so we brought it home. My brother found a clever use for it – he mounted it on the wall below the mirror, above the bathroom sink and stuck the small nail files, clippers and cuticle scissors on the rack. It is a lot easier to find these things. It makes it easier for my parents to reach these items as well since they are both short.

(tip submitted by EH, SD)

Record the Contents of Your Wallet

A friend of mine recently lost his wallet when he left it lying on the table in a restaurant to use the restroom. An unscrupulous person picked it up and attempted to use one of the credit cards. My friend had made a list of his credit and debit cards, driver’s license, etc. and had already reported them as missing. When the culprit tried to buy something with one of the cards, it wouldn’t work and that person was eventually caught. (In-store cameras are a wonderful thing.)

(tip submitted by RL, NV)

Faucet Cleaner

Did you know that you can clean the lime deposit around your bathroom and kitchen faucets with plain vinegar? A friend  told me this when I was doing some spring cleaning and was using a paring knife to dig out the white stuff around the edges of the knobs and the faucets. She said to just take a washcloth or a hand towel, lay it around the knobs and faucet, pour pure vinegar on till the cloth is soaked. Simply leave it for a few hours when nobody would be using it. You can easily wipe the crud off afterward. Those faucets haven’t been this clean since we moved into this house – absolutely amazing!

(tip submitted by CS, NE)