Blue Flower

Thursday 19/10/2023  Before we went to the mill, I took the forklift to the Barn Owl box on a building at The Maltings and Eddie lifted me up in the cage to clear out the remains of the old Jackdaws nest, we hope Barn Owls might use it next season.

At the mill there was a Swan in the river which stayed there nearly all day. Another stem of the Cosmos was broken, so I wired it to the stake I put in, there are lots of flowers on the Cosmos now.

Beryl gave us two fat filled Coconuts for the birds which we hung on the feeding station and in a tree, Eddie and I filled the seed, peanut and suet ball feeders. The Nyger feeders were still full, as there are plenty of Thistle and Teasel seeds around at this time of year for Goldfinches to eat. We saw a Pied Wagtail on the visitor centre roof.

We brought two pallets with us to extend our compost bay as it was overflowing. We fixed one pallet to the back of the existing bay using two planks of wood, then fixed the other one at the side to make a double bay. We used forks to move the overflowing cuttings into the new part, its good to turn compost anyway, so this will help it decompose. We pulled thick weeds out as they won't rot down, Eddie burned them in the incinerator. We disturbed several Voles when moving cuttings, they ran off into the long grass.

The two small compost bins had to be dismantled and moved to make room for the new bay, the contents were left in place, as they were within the new bay. I re-assembled the bins next to the extended bay, they will be used for grass cuttings and small weeds which rot down quickly, they have opening hatches at the bottom to get compost out easily.

Part of the wildflower meadow got cut down when the entrance track was mown, so we hammered in posts along the edge and put white tape on top so they are clearly visible. The posts should stop the wildflower area being accidentally cut and prevent the newly re-seeded area being driven on. We need to leave a wide track beside the wildflower area for large farm machinery to get between the fields at both ends of the mill, so I pruned an overhanging tree to give more room and put the cuttings in the hedge for wildlife.

Debra walked down with Labradors Henry and Hector. Henry was unable to walk to the mill recently due to a hip problem, but his new medication allows him to walk to the mill and back as well as chasing a few sticks. A family of Swans and Cygnets flew over while we were playing with the dogs. We showed Debra the extended compost bay we made and explained the posts along the wildflower meadow. I went to the Blacksmith’s shop to see if the Nicandra are still flowering, they have gone to seed with lantern style seed heads. When they finish flowering we will fully strim the area.

Saturday 21/10/2023  At our Open Days, visitors could give feedback on the HOD website about their experience at the bone mill, today we received a response which said: "Enthusiastic, knowledgeable and welcoming volunteers brought history to life. Fascinating exhibits unearthed were on display. A working water wheel, refreshments, loos and beautiful walk along the River Nar there and back. Parking and access well signed. It couldn't have been any better." Its really rewarding to get such positive feedback.

Tuesday 24/10/2023  We had a meeting to discuss repairing the fallen river wall and bowed trench wall. Its unlikely we will be able to carry out repairs this year, as they will take several weeks, as work can only be done at weekends when Fred is available, and the riverside track is too slippery to take machines to the mill in winter, so its likely to be spring 2024 before we can start. We will get the materials delivered sooner in case the weather allows us to make an earlier start. See the repair plan article for details of wall repairs.

Thursday 26/10/2023  Beryl asked me to do a couple of jobs with the forklift, we got some things out of the loft above the old Doctor’s surgery and Ryan measured the signs on the walls so that covers can be made, as the practice have now closed Narborough surgery.

There were 5 of us at the mill today, it was raining to start with so we had tea and biscuits in the railway wagon. Ryan got the fire alight, Howard is a retired Fireman so he fitted new batteries in the Carbon Monoxide detector and tested it, cleaned insects out of the smoke alarm and checked the fire extinguisher. Ryan showed us his provisional driving licence which he has just received.

Anne Marie brought some Allium bulbs and planted them near the small Oak tree, she and Ryan found two potatoes growing in the ground there, potatoes were grown in the adjacent field last year. I put the potatoes in the oven above the fire with the sausage rolls that Ryan and I brought.

Eddie tied up the Cosmos which had broken again and fallen over, but its still flowering well. Eddie brought a Dogwood plant today which we will find a permanent home for soon, he also filled the bird feeders.

Ryan and I had our hot sausage rolls for lunch in the wagon, Anne Marie brought chocolate cake for us which was extremely nice. We forgot about the potatoes but we didn’t have any butter to go with them anyway. I had a sausage roll left over which no one wanted, so I broke it up and put it out for the birds.

Ryan took the sign off the bridge inviting walkers over, as the plywood was splitting apart. Howard cut a new board for the sign which Eddie and Ryan painted, we need to wait until next week for the paint to dry. While working in the shed I fixed the water pump wires to the wall with cable clips, as last week they got caught up in the lid of the tool store. The pump fills the water tank and toilet cistern from a water butt.

We crossed our bridge to staple a sign on the notice board about our next open days on 11 & 12 May. We viewed the fallen wall and discussed repairs which will start when we get good weather, we'll fit the spare Kingfisher nest tunnel into the new wall and re-fit the Grey Wagtail box back on the wall. On our way back to the wagon I saw a single Poppy and noticed seedlings are already growing in the meadow.

I strimmed the nettles and thistles which were creeping out across the entrance track, I used goggles as there is lots of rubble there ready for use as infill when we work on the fallen wall. When we got back to The Maltings we saw two Cygnets in the river, Beryl said they were on her lawn earlier with their parents.

Graham Bartlett  

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