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Part of the joy of living in the Catskill Mountains is acquiring the know-how specific to this region.  This Local Wisdom archive is a knowledge hub that helps us learn from each others’ successes.

Until there’s a gold medal for country living skills, your reward will be the gratitude of friends and neighbors for making life in these mountains just a little bit easier.


Keep bears out of garbage

R.M.,  Margaretville

They say “a fed bear is a dead bear,” because the animals become a nuisance when they associate humans with food.

If you have to put your garbage out for trash pickup, here’s how to keep bears away:

• Drill a pair of small holes in the top of your big plastic garbage can.
• Soak a sponge in ammonia.
• Run a plastic zip tie through the hole and secure the sponge.
• Bears can’t stand the smell of ammonia, and they’ll stay away.

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Grow great potatoes

Tammy Smith, Delhi

When you mound dirt over your potatoes, add grass clippings to the layers.
The grass clippings provide nutrients and you harvest larger, more delicious potatoes.

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Kill ants

Susan Wilbur, Stamford

To keep ants from invading your house, sprinkle Borax powder at the place where they’re coming in.

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Ash trees for firewood

George W.,  Roxbury

If you have to cut down an ash tree, chop it up for firewood right away. You can bust it apart with an axe. If you wait a week or longer to cut it, the wood will be very hard and will burn up your chainsaw blade.

The other thing about ash wood is that it burns hot immediately, unlike other wood that needs time to season.


Clean soot off a woodstove glass door

J.K.,  Stamford

Wet a paper towel and dip it in the ashes in your woodstove, then gently rub the soot covering the interior of the woodstove door. The soot dissolves like magic!

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