This is the tale of hornet pie, filled with ….no, I’ll leave that part till the end.
I need to set the scene first. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I find bugs and beetles fascinating. I even like the ones that most people would run a mile from. I see a place in this world for wasps and hornets, and even snails and slugs. Although the last one is more begrudgingly.
Hornets visit our garden and sometimes venture into the house. Mainly in the spring and autumn, but this year they have changed their pattern. They are with us now. We have ushered hornets out of the house at midnight, two nights this week. Unlike wasps, they fly at night. Attracted to the light, that attracts moths, which they love to feast upon. If a door or window is left open, they are in.
Weirdly, I do have a soft spot for hornets. I’ve even been known to feed a sugar and water solution to revive an exhausted one, after a night trapped it the house. They use up their energy flying into a light repeatedly.
This year, they seem more aggressive. Failing to find an opening, they will throw themselves at the window, to reach a lamp on the windowsill. It sounds like a small bird flying into a window. Repeatedly. I looked out one night, to find three of them trying to get in. Two fighting each other, like a pub brawl.
One good point to come out of all this activity, we now turn off all lights more quickly and go to bed early. There is always a silver lining.
(children collecting caterpillars from cabbages)
During the day, the hornets are targeting our early apple tree. Any break in the skin and they are in. The tree is heavy with fruit. Most untouched, at the moment. We’ve watched the hornets. Not too closely as they are so aggressive.
They don’t fly in a straight line. Whichever hornet first found the tree, looped around our house, passed the front door, instead of taking a short cut over the garden. All other hornets have followed the path. None. Absolutely none, deviate. It does mean they have found our fig tree too.
(cabbage white caterpillar= easy pest)
So what to do? Believe me, hornets have been the hottest conversation in our house this week. We follow the doctrine that nature finds its balance and annihilating one species would cause problems.
To leave the hornets would be a problem too. They are there day and night. They sting like you are being punched. The lawnmover vibration would trigger an attack. What if Blue the Pup picked up a windfall apple with a hornet in it? The tree is on the edge of my kitchen garden and dog walking route. Fast becoming a no-go area.
I think we are tettering reluctantly towards traps.
In the meantime, I am making grab and run raids. I’m becoming an expert. I understand their behaviour. I can predict. I figure if I can reduce the fruit, then the hornets will move on. Plus I can use my apples. I don’t mind sharing, but so far, the hornets don’t seem so keen to play fair.
Most important part is to work out your escape plan, before you start. I have mine.
(children making meringues)
It has been a personal triumph to return to the kitchen clutching my bounty. “I’ve got five, this time,” resounds round the house. I have more than enough for cooking, as they are not really ready for eating raw.
I baked hornet pie, yesterday. The pastry top is not pretty, but that’s not the point. This pie is my triumph. I won. As I pulled the pie out of the Aga last night, I couldn’t help feeling pleased. Looking up from his game of cards, the Boy asked what type of pie.
“Hornet pie,” I replied, as I stood back to admire it and bask in my success.
Quick as a flash, he jumped up and ran round the table, to take a closer look.
“Phew. From over there it looked like that bubble, coming through the crust, was a hornet trying to get out. Look.”
I see his point. I’d added strawberries to the apples in the pie, and the bubble, from the darker fruit, was like a hornet. It could well have been a hornet……*
What do they say? Revenge is often best served cold. Best with a pastry top and a scoop of homemade ice cream.
Other news this week:
I finished making my koi fish dress.
The children made vanilla ice cream and meringues
They also removed the cabbage white caterpillars from the cabbages. Yeh! All caterpillars are growing big and fat in the butterfly house. Boo!
Lots of books have been read and new card games have been mastered. Screen time is reducing on its own.
How was your week?
*Just for the record, and between you and me, there were no hornets in the pie.
Word of the week is hornets.
I have so many craft projects on the go at the moment, but nothing at the stage of sharing. So I thought for a change I’d share part of my country life.
This is my 14th year of walking down our little lane, on the school and childcare run. The combination of babies/toddlers/school children/dogs have varied, but there has always been me. Donning boots. Ready to dodge cars and cyclists, whilst ensuring none of my brood ends up in front of oncoming vehicles.
There are no pavements. We walk along the edge of the lane, with high hedgerows on either side. Some sections of the lane are single carriage. We often encounter horse riders and even a pony and trap. It is a country lane.
You would be amazed at how fast and close people think it is OK to race their cars passed pedestrians on a narrow country lane. It is close. Common sense seems to disappear. They’ll dodge a bramble or branch that is overhanging the road, for fear of scratching their paintwork, but squeeze past a child within inches. All as close to the national speed limit as possible, because that’s what the road signs say they can do. I’ve often thought about wearing a coat of barbed wire. It would make them think twice about driving so close. That crazy lady again.
Most car drivers are considerate.
I could use the taxi which the council would supply, free of charge. I’ve always turned it down. The walk is 10 minutes and we love seeing the seasons change along the lane. More importantly, I need the exercise.
So we walk. Spotting toads, deer, birds and flowers as we go.
There came a point, during those years, where I had a hand free to hold a dog lead. At last, I could combine the school run with the dog walk. A complete time saver, but with it came a whole set of new considerations. If you have ever walked a dog to school, I think you’ll be familiar with a few of these.
1. Not knowing which hand to wave to friends in passing cars. There is an ensuing puppet-on-a-string hand act, as I try to decide whether to wave the hand with the lead in it, and risk the dog’s neck, or the one holding the…ahem… used poo bag. Inevitably I end up waving a poo bag at my friend, as they drive past. Invites to come round for coffee, dry up.
2. The moment I’m somewhere remotely smart, I reach into my pocket and release an avalanche of unused poo bags. Declaring as loudly as possible that they are clean, as I hastily recapture them all. Cross another venue/job interview off my list.
3. On the walk, inevitably someone will comment about the size of my dog. Often strangers, slowing down their cars, wind down their windows, to share their insight. “Put a saddle on her and ride her to school“. “Is it a pony?” “Isn’t that a big doggie?” I laugh in a friendly manner. It’s OK. Still funny. Even after hearing it approximately 71,529 times before. Sigh. I wish I was exaggerating.
4. Reaching the school gate, small dogs dash up and yap at her. She stands still. “What is it? Will I tread on it? What happens if I do tread on it? I’m listening intently out of pure politeness”. We will never know what she is thinking. For my part, I’m hoping that the smaller dog doesn’t launch itself at her throat and condemn us to a morning spent at the vets. Again.
5. My dog is a thief. No two ways about it. As she passes, she is tall enough to grab cookies from children’s hands or rifle through handbags for sandwiches. It’s true. Often it is so quick neither party realise until it’s too late. Oops! Sorry. Turn tail quickly and wonder how to persuade husband to do the school runs for the rest of the week/term.
6. My dog loves children. She’s grown up with them, so she loves them. A crying child apparently needs a face wash, in her mind. Babies in prams, well, they need face washes anyway. Even if it means rifling through blankets to find them. Just need to make sure all grown-up humans are looking elsewhere. Ah-ah. Oh. No. I’m on to you my furry friend.
7. Identifying three types of children. First type will plaster themselves spreadeagled against the wall as we pass. Velcroed to the nearest building, out of pure terror of a dog. Any dog. Second group will throw their arms around her, sometimes remembering to ask first. Third group ignore her. May absent mindedly run a hand along her back. Take appropriate action for each type of child.
8. Having the conversation about why people leave poo bags hanging in the branches of hedges. Nope, I have no idea either. Yes, I do know it looks horrible. Sigh. Just because I have exploding pockets, full of ready to use bags, doesn’t mean I understand either. Maybe it’s a protest. Maybe there’s a clearing-up pixie that no one told me about. I use the provided marked bins. Smile politely.
9. Never underestimate the memory or scent ability of a dog. Even three or four years later, she still insists on stopping to sniff where a rotting badger was on the side of the road. It has long gone, but not to my dog. Again? Really?
10. She has learnt where I like to stop and listen to the birds. She understands when I want to take photos, and she has my back. At home, she jumps up, even from deep sleep, to join me for a walk. Whatever the weather. She is the perfect walking companion.
I know dogs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve worked hard to train her to be a dog that behaves well and is a good ambassador at the school gate, or wherever she meets people and other dogs.
Most of all, I love her company. She is no spring chicken and has reached the upper end of her breed’s lifespan, so I count every day as a blessing with her. We have just over a year of school runs left for youngest. I hope she’s around to accompany me even on the very last one. Or maybe by then, I can send her down by herself to pick up the Boy. There’s a thought….