Blue Flower

Thursday 14/9/23  This was the last work party before Heritage Open Days at the weekend. There were 5 of us, I took the mower and cut the track on the way down, then cut the grass at the upper end of the site, including going into the wildflower meadow and cutting the footpaths through it.

Howard finished painting the roof rails on the wagon, then helped me put the bridge across, we went over the other side to put up a sign about the open days so walkers on the footpath know about them. I cleaned our information board and checked the card box was full. Howard cut back brambles beside the bridge with the pole pruner as it was difficult to swing the bridge across. 

Back at the mill we put the fences across to keep visitors out of the danger area between the damaged walls. I checked the donation box to make sure its working ready for the open days and showed Howard how it works. It needed a bit of attention, I lubricated the bearings and cleaned the contacts with fine sandpaper, tested it thoroughly and put it back in the wagon.

Eddie cut the rest of the grass at the mill and Emma weeded the brick floors and hammer mill. I topped up the water wheel oil bottle ready for the open days as we need to oil the wheel regularly when its turning. I noticed the Cosmos Anne Marie planted by the tunnel end is now in flower, and there are more Cyclamen flowering at the bottom of our river bank which are also visible from the footpath opposite.

Anne Marie continued pulling tall weeds from the wildflower meadow, and I straightened the insect hotels as they were all leaning over, I also fixed the back of the butterfly house as it was coming away. Eddie filled up the bird feeders on the feeding station and Howard topped up their drinking water, then watered all the gardens.

Eddie strimmed the edges around the site, then pulled up tall weeds from the area between the damaged walls, we can’t mow this as the ground is too churned up from clearing the fallen wall, so David and Emma came back and strimmed this area in the evening. Anne Marie cleared the garden around the small Oak tree which now has acorns on it, we also noticed animals have been chewing the trunk, so I found an empty tree guard to put around it.

Heritage Open Days on 16 & 17 September were well attended and a great success. Fred had fully cut the footpath recently, so walkers were able to join us from Narborough, Pentney and Marham. Since the open days we've had a number of new subscribers to our website newsletter, I would like to welcome the new members. For pictures and details of the two day event, see the Heritage Open Days page.

Thursday 21/9/23  When we arrived at the mill, Paul, Helen, Malcolm and Walkiria from Downham Market were on the opposite river bank taking pictures of the mill, so I invited them to cross our bridge and look around. I showed them the visitor centre and finds discovered on site. They gave a donation which I put in our donation box so they could see the model water wheel turning.

Eddie and Howard took away the insect hotels and wildlife sign from the wildflower meadow, as we planned to cut the whole meadow today, this is known as the Hay Cut. We all pulled up the remaining tall weeds so the seeds don’t fall to the ground when we cut the meadow.

I put the mower up on ramps and took the blades off to sharpen them as they were blunt after nearly two years use. There is a keyway on each blade shaft to drive the cutters, one of the woodruff keys fell out on the grass, we had to move the mower back to search for it, luckily Eddie found it. Eddie and Howard sharpened the blades with files. I refitted the blades and tested the mower on some grass which it cut well.

I took the mower to the meadow and Eddie and I cut the wildflower area down, the mower did well as the growth was dense and tall in most places but we managed to cut the whole area. Eddie strimmed the corners where the mower couldn’t reach. We need to leave the cuttings on the ground so the flower seeds fall, then next week we will clear the cuttings so they don’t enrich the soil, as wildflowers thrive in poor soil.

I brought some more ground stakes today as we had run out, Howard used them to stake down the cycle rack which was loose, as well as the insect hotels in their temporary location on the small lawn, the screws were tightened up as some of the legs were wobbly.

The Cosmos which is in flower had been knocked over, probably by the recent high winds, so I got a metal pole and garden wire from the shed and tied the fallen stem in place. When coming out of the shed I caught my ankle in a hole in the ground, so Howard dug away soil which was blocking the greenhouse door and filled in the hole.

I noticed our wildlife habitat on the end wall of the visitor centre has a lot of canes missing, birds must have pulled them out, we will replace them and pack them tightly so they can’t be pulled out. There was a Red Admiral butterfly on the wall beside the habitat.

We noticed our bowed trench wall had got worse, so Howard and I stretched a line of cotton along the length of the wall and measured the bow, its increased from 185mm to 250mm, an extra 65mm. Its now at severe risk of collapse, we already fenced off the area around the trench. We'll have a meeting soon to plan repairs to the trench and river walls.

Graham Bartlett  

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