By Granny Spear
When you live in the country flies are ever present. Living without a fridge means that even though they can’t get to the food in the safe they can smell it, and that means they come inside the house and buzz around annoying everyone.
Let me tell you about food safes: They are a sturdy wooden cupboard, with a very fine mesh door that allows the air to circulate. There were two shelves in ours, a marble one at the bottom, and a mesh one supported by a wooden frame in the middle. By making sure it’s in a shady spot in the scullery food stays cool and safe from flies.
Right, where was I? Yes, flies, okay. We used three methods of keeping flies away. First we set fly traps outside the house near the doors and windows. They are easy to make.
- Take a jam jar with a lid and punch some holes in the top, large enough for flies to get through.
- Wipe a little raw meat, such as bacon around the inside of the jar.
- Fill the jar about one third with apple cider vinegar and screw the lid on.
You place these near the doors and windows. The flies are attracted to the smell of the meat. They go through the holes but can rarely get out again. You will be amazed at how many flies you will catch.
Flies are not keen on some smells. bay leaves, lavender and cloves, are a good combination I found. The bay leaves and cloves would just be bashed a little, to bruise them and let more smell out. The lavender needed to be very well crushed to release the oil. The crushed lavender goes in with the cloves and bay. I kept a small bowl of this near the safe to disguise the smell of the food inside. I put the same mixture into a small basket hung on the inside of the outhouse door.
Some summers just seemed to be bad years for flies and there would be far more of them than usual. A fly lure works well. Ernie would take a piece of waste meat, a chicken head maybe, and put it under an upturned plant pot way down at the bottom of the garden beyond the outhouse pits. He put the pot on an old dinner plate which stopped maggots escaping. The flies would swarm to it. Often they would not be able to get out of the upside down pot which was a bonus!
I’m sure there are other ways to deter flies, but these worked for me so I stuck with them. Well that’s it for now.
Granny Spear was born in a small cottage in Devon, Southern England in 1925. Married to farm labourer Ernest, she raised her family in the heart of the countryside without any of the amenities we rely on today. Using skills passed down from her mother, who had learned those same skills from her mother, she not only survived but positively thrived living a self-sufficient, off grid lifestyle. Outliving her husband, one of her children and two of her grandchildren she stayed in the cottage until 2003 when a serious fall saw her hospitalized. She now lives with her daughter just four miles from her old home. For her 89th birthday her grandchildren and great grandchildren brought her an iPad, which she instantly rejected until they showed her Angry Birds…After much persuasion she has agreed to share some of her knowledge with us about what she calls the ‘old days’
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