It feels like the blackberries have come early this year….not sure whether they have or not but the long dry spell followed by a short period of inclement weather may have tricked them in to thinking that Autumn is on the way! Although the drop of rain has been welcome in Brambly Hedge to top up their reserves, the warm weather has allowed the mice to catch up on many other jobs. Mr Apple has been having a good clean out in the Store Stump ready for all the jams and pickles that will be bubbling in the pans shortly, and the weavers have been able to open all the doors and windows to help their newly dyed cloths and blankets to dry.
The Store Stump is never empty, but stocks are lower at this time of year as the mice prepare for the harvest. Poppy and Dusty have enjoyed being able to let the baby mice outside to play in the hedgerow, and they particularly like playing by the stream where they can dip their paws and tails in to the water.
It won’t be long now until the little mice have to go back to school. On the first day of autumn, the children from the hedge, the little shrews, the moles from the meadow and the voles from the banks of the stream all put on their smocks and their pinafores and line up with their slates for their first day at school. Miss Thistle is their teacher and she lives in a small house near the Chestnut Woods. She is a strong believer that although learning is important for the small mice, it must be fun, so they learn to read and write in many creative ways using their natural surroundings. When the mice are writing stories, they use exercise books instead of slates, and the ink for their pens is made out of blackberry juice by Mr Apple.
The autumn harvest really isn’t that far away, and the cobnuts are already abundant on the trees. The blackberries will adorn the hedgerows soon, and the hawthorn berries and rosehips will add a vibrant splash of red to the turning foliage. It might still be summer, but the cooler months are looming, so see what you can find to preserve and bottle. Save those empty jars for jams and jellies, and experiment with the remaining summer crops to see how you can make them last!
The Brambly Hedge Team