Monday, February 23, 2009
Snow melt and heavy rain brought the river bank high for the first time this year, which is just what it needs at this time of the year. The terminal hatch on the millstream having to be cranked open a few notches to release the excess water. The hatch is cast Iron and nearly two hundred years old. In my time here I have come close on only one occasion to having it fully open for several weeks to release spare water. This was during the heavy flooding around seven or eight winters ago. The fishing hut was surrounded by water, the island at the bottom of the garden submerged, as were two of the wooden bridges. The Mill house, with walls built directly onto gravel was never in danger of flooding, the house sitting on a small raised plateaux, the water coming only half way up the lawn. A house built several hundred years ago directly onto a flood plain that doesn’t flood even under what is sexily termed a “one in a hundred years event” An incredible amount of thought had gone into the siting of the house and the calculations for the size of hatch needed to control the water level was spot on.
The tinning in the river is going well, the extra water making the job much easier and quicker. Green shoots of weed are showing, ranunculus in particular responds well to increased winter flows, and it appears that it will be necessary to cut weed in late April. The fry in the hatchery are feeding well, after last years success I have given up the automatic feeder and am hand feeding whenever I can. The fish are now around two centimetres long and take around twenty minutes to clean in the morning.
With the woodshed emptying fast, I have spent most of the week picking up and chopping up all of the wood from the tress that came down this time last year and had stacked by the river. It is not completely dry but will keep my employer’s house and my house going until middle of next winter.
The Iron Age defence ditch that we use as or main drive on a shooting day is to be clear felled, with only the ancient yew trees and a few large ash remaining. The decision has been taken by English Heritage who administer the site and the work will be undertaken in the summer. It will cause disruption to the shoot, although we will still have a strip of gamecover alongside the ditch. The plan is to make the site more accessible to the public and show that there is an Iron Age defence ditch in the village. A lot of wildlife inhabit and use the ditch and its environs. It remains to be seen what effect clear felling will have on them.