The long, hot summer is still hanging in there but only by a thread! The daytime temperatures are not quite so high now, and the early mornings are cooler, with a heavier dew. It appears that the harvest this year is gong to be a bountiful one, and the mice are already out in the hedgerows filling their baskets to store for the long winter ahead. Blackberries appear to be in abundance along with a really good crop of Hawthorn berries and Sloes. Nuts are also in abundance but they have to be picked quickly before the squirrels get to them, and mushrooms are starting to appear in the fields.
Mr Apple is in charge of the Store Stump, and he waits patiently by the fire for the mice to arrive with their offerings. As their baskets are delivered, he notes down their contents in great detail in a special book and moves them to their allocated areas.
The mice are very creative when it comes to preserving and they strike a good balance between preparing food to be eaten quickly, with jams, pickles and syrups that will last them through to next summer and beyond. Beechnuts will be pressed for oil, walnuts will be pickled, fruits will be preserved in honey and dandelion roots roasted and ground for coffee.
If you can find time over the next few weeks to go foraging for berries, the rewards will be great. Not only are you left with a very satisfying pot or jar of something yummy, but it will allow you to take time to appreciate our wonderful countryside and hedgerows which we must preserve and enjoy, and keep an eye out for a wisp of smoke while you’re at it!
The Brambly Hedge Team