Blue Flower

Thursday 14/12/23  I lit the fire in the railway wagon, Eddie made tea and brought firewood in from the log store and put it by the fire. I put sausage rolls in the oven in time for lunch.

I did some tests to find out why two of our nest cameras are not working. As we had Mice in the wagon recently I examined the cables but couldn’t see any damage. I bypassed the wire from the camera on the bird feeders with a spare camera extension cable as this was the easiest one to check, but it still didn’t work. Eddie suggested swapping the connections of the cameras around and we found it was always channels 1 & 3 that didn’t work, regardless of which cameras were connected.

The compromise solution was to wire in the cameras from the Barn Owl/Jackdaw box and Great Tit box to the working channels, as the Hedgehog box has never been occupied and we can manage without the bird feeder camera. We’ll clean out the nest boxes ready for next season.

Eddie noticed the river was very high today, water is coming up through the bottom of the water wheel and the river level is just under the brick floor leading into the wheel. The last time the river was this high was during the floods and snow of 2021.

The farmer cut the banks of the stream including the back of our trees a few weeks ago, so today we used a long crome to remove large cuttings from the stream, we put them out to dry ready to be burned with brambles which Eddie cut and pulled out of the hedge.

Eddie used a wire brush to rub down a bench seat he brought from his mum’s house, we’ll repaint it and use it on site or on the Nar Valley Way footpath for walkers to use. At the end of the day we put it in the visitor centre to keep it dry.

On our way to the mill I salvaged more wood from the fire site by the railway bridge. Eddie removed nails from the wood and I used some of it to modify the cistern cover by blocking a gap, so wildlife like Hedgehogs can’t fall in the cistern. I took the bird feeders apart and cleaned them as they get clogged up in wet weather, I refilled them and checked their water bowl was full.

Saturday 16/12/23  Ryan and I went to the mill to try and sort out the nest camera fault. I cleared the underseat cupboards to access all the cables and noticed mice had chewed the wiring loom in the corner where it goes through under the seat, so this is why they are not working properly. I disconnected and removed the wiring loom and have now negotiated a free replacement from the supplier, but it will take several weeks to arrive.

Ryan got the fire alight in the wagon and put his pasty and my sausage rolls in the oven above. We reconnected the wire from the small solar panel on the end of the wagon which powers the lights inside, as the wind had blown the wires around causing them to break off the connector block. The control box then showed it was charging and we switched on the lights to test them. I tidied up the cable outside the wagon and held it in place with a cable tie and cable clips to prevent further wind damage.

I cut up the logs we brought back last week with the chainsaw and Ryan split them with the large axe and log splitter, he then got a barrow of seasoned logs from the logstore and took them to the wagon to make room for the new wood which he moved into the logstore.

There was a large pile of soil in front of the compost bay from weeds which had been put in there with soil still attached, so we both got spades and dug away the pile and spread the soil around, this will make it easier to get compost out of the bottom, its been there two years so it should be ready to use.

Blue Tits and Great Tits were eating peanuts from the feeder which we filled up on Thursday. In the river on the way back we saw the Swan and Cygnets which are getting big now. A Buzzard was flying overhead above the riverside track.

Thursday 21/12/23  It was very windy today, surprisingly there were no fallen trees, but our fences around the cistern and damaged trench wall had blown over, so I propped up the posts with more bricks.

Eddie lit the fire in the wagon and we had tea and biscuits in there. Eddie planed the visitor centre doors again to make them close better while Ryan and I cut and split the rest of the logs from last month’s fallen tree. 

Eddie filled the bird feeders with peanuts, seed and suet balls. The river level is still very high, the Cyclamen leaves on the river bank are right at the edge of the water. Eddie noticed a Cygnet in the river near the water wheel, the other one was further up river with the adult.

Emma joined us so I asked her to look at the sign posts we refurbished to see if any alterations were needed. Emma filed off splinters from one of the cut down posts and advised which extra signs were needed. Ryan made new boards, fixed them to the posts and stapled the spare signs to them. 

Emma wrote on the back of the signs to show where they go, to make it easier when putting them out at open days, then we put them all in the trailer ready to take back. Eddie cut more brambles from the hedge and continued rubbing down the bench ready for it to be painted. 

We took the signs back to The Maltings where we noticed the hatch of the Barn Owl box was flapping in the wind, so I drove the forklift and cage round and lifted Ryan up to fix it, he repaired the bolt and locked the hatch closed. We hope Barn Owls instead of Jackdaws will nest in it.

The Christmas decoration has been put on the field in front of the Holiday Cottages and lit up, this can be seen from the main road. Happy Christmas to everyone interested and involved with the bone mill, wherever you are.

Graham Bartlett  

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