If you've ever hung wallpaper, you know it can get pretty intense when you've spread the wallpaper paste and you then have to hoist it up the ladder to the corner of the ceiling to hang it on the wall. It is tricky to get it perfectly lined up with the vertical plumb line, and get it glued evenly to the wall, without bubbles or lumps. And it all has to be done in fairly short time, before the paste dries. It's a tricky job at the best of times, when you have two arms. Imagine the hassle of doing all that at once -- with one arm!
If a person escapes from some danger by a hair's breadth, they only just managed to avoid it. The breadth is the thickness of a hair, so they probably feel somewhat lucky because the margin between success and what could easily have been failure was so close.
A term used by rural folks in years past to emphasize a matter of importance or urgency. An example: 'By cracky, you need to get out there in the field with that mule and plow and finish the sod-busting before dark.'
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