Blue Flower

Thursday 22/9/22  We saw four Swans on the river on our way to the mill and a Little Egret flew up from the river when we arrived. One of my first jobs was chaining and locking the water wheel after we had it turning at our open days.

Kevin and Sally joined us today, Kevin brought his metal detector along after visiting on Sunday and seeing the demonstration. He found a good variety of things in the soil including large nails, square nut, pre 1940s shotgun cartridge, belt buckle and piece of lead, these filled up the shelf so in the afternoon I assembled the new shelving rack and put it in the display area ready for the next finds. 

Jan walked to the mill, had lunch with us and took some photos of us working. I switched on the lights and displays in the visitor centre and Jan viewed them all including Kevin’s finds from today and the new area about making the wildflower meadow.

Eddie fitted the stabilizer bracket back on the bridge, Ryan welded it as it had broken again. While working there I took the Heritage Open Days banner off the bridge and managed to save all the cable ties as we have nearly run out. The bridge swings across easily now the bearing has been repaired, Eddie crossed the river and rubbed down the bench opposite the mill ready for painting. A Squirrel came close to me as it ran down the path. Beryl gave me a picture of a Stoat taken by John Isom near The Maltings.

Eddie repaired one of the butterfly houses as the back had come away. We watched potatoes being harvested in the surrounding fields. A Moorhen and its chick were on our grass again, they were eating fallen bird food from the feeders, Eddie filled them up and we saw a Great Tit eating from the long seed feeder. As we were about to leave we saw a baby Lizard sunbathing in the logstore.

Thursday 29/9/22  We took the mower and roller to the mill, as the priority today was preparing soil on the wildflower areas ready for sowing seeds. We started by levelling out uneven areas and picking up surface rubble.

We then went over the area with our home made harrow, this brought up large stones which we cleared. We checked the harrow and found the tines, made from thin screws had bent and a few had broken off, so we replaced some of them with thicker screws and tested it, this worked much better, so we replaced all the screws and harrowed the entire wildflower area. 

4 Buzzards were circling overhead while we were working today. Finds discovered in the soil were a piece of clinker (probably from the adjacent Blacksmith’s forge), 2 bones, drilled metal plate, bolt, and a piece of coated glass from a sulphuric acid bottle which was used in the making of fertilizer.

Eddie then cut the grass on the large lawn while I filled the roller with water for ballast. Water was from the recently installed water butts and this was the first time they were used in anger. We then rolled the entire wildflower area which levelled it out and firmed the soil. 

When we walked back to the table for lunch we saw a Lizard running across the grass near the container. We watched the surrounding fields being worked all day. In the afternoon the wildflower and brick floor areas were harrowed again all over to make a seed bed ready for sowing. The harrow tines all survived, it will be needed every year to encourage annual seeds to germinate.

Saturday 1/10/22  There were five of us, we took the mower and seed spreader to sow all the wildflower seeds. There was heavy rain overnight so we decided to harrow the soil again before sowing seeds. Emma made tea for us and saw a striped Leopard Slug on the stone outside the railway wagon.

We poured silver sand into the seed spreader hopper as its easier to see where seed has been spread if mixed with sand, then we topped up with our mixture of wildflower and grass seed, this was all mixed thoroughly and spread on the main wildflower area. We then rolled the area to ensure good seed to soil contact.

Next we filled the hopper with sand and wildflower only seed for creating a Cornfield flower area on the covered brick floor. We added seed given to us by Ryan’s Gran, Eddie and Helen plus Purple Poppy seeds we saved from the end of the visitor centre. This was mixed and spread on the soil over the brick floor, it didn’t spread as easily and kept clogging up, the solution was to increase the flow rate and drive faster, the bumps kept it flowing. This area was then rolled which was a major milestone as this completes the wildflower meadow project.

Eddie put up fence posts with old CDs tied to them which deters birds from eating the seed. Some posts had to go on the brick floor which meant they couldn’t be driven into the ground, so we made post bases cut from an old headboard and screwed them to the posts, piles of bricks hold them in place. I stapled laminated signs to some of the posts to prevent people walking on the area.

While seed was being spread, Emma, David and Ryan weeded, cleared and levelled the area next to the container. Emma found a Lizard and a deformed bottle top, David found the old sluice channel, the last two will be put on display. Ryan loaded up three full loads of rubble from this area, took it back and tipped it in the yard and brought back rakes for Emma and David to finish off the area they cleared.

Louise, Lynda, Samantha and Melanie from Dersingham were walking the Nar Valley Way, Emma invited them over to look round the site, it was nice to meet them. I explained our projects and showed them the visitor centre, they gave a contribution in our donation box and I gave them biscuits for their walk back.

David, Ryan and Emma went across the river with the ladder and fitted a Tawny Owl box in a tree, these have to be high up, so David went up the ladder then climbed up into the tree, it was a two man job to hold the box and fix it to the tree, so Ryan went up into the tree to help. Nest boxes are part of our Green Community Grant.

The last job was clearing up and taking the mower, seed spreader and roller back to The Maltings for storage until they are needed again. Although the wildflower meadow project is now complete, there is still a lot of maintenance involved, the whole area needs to be cut several times a year and in Autumn the soil needs to be harrowed to encourage annuals to germinate. In summer we need to keep paths cut through the area and we will have to constantly pull up weeds. We should see flower growth in Spring 2023.

Graham Bartlett  

Interactive Plan   Activity  Heritage Open Days  Green Grant   Wildflower Meadow   Volunteer  Previous  Next

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