Keeping a working mill in good running order is quite a task and at Heatherslaw Cornmill maintenance goes on behind the scenes throughout the year. As the visitor season draws to a close you might be forgiven for thinking that the miller puts his feet up on a sack of grain and takes a well-earned break but in fact the opposite is true. Every year in the autumn the millstones have to be “dressed”, a process which involves lifting the huge stones, which weigh around half a tonne each, sweeping them clean of flour and carefully re-grinding the channels and grooves which help to produce the high quality flours for which Heatherslaw Mill is renowned. If this wasn’t done then through time the surface of the stones would become so smooth that they would no longer cut and grind the grain correctly and would eventually cease to make flour. In addition to dressing the stones the bearing in the bed-stone has to be cleaned and regreased, then it is packed tight with sheep’s wool and grease to keep everything turning smoothly for the year ahead In days gone by the stones were dressed by hand, the miller using a “mill bill” – a type of stone pick – to slowly chip the lines and grooves. Nowadays the process is done using an electric grinder, which not only speeds it up but also causes much less damage to the millstone and produces a better end result. Dave Harris-Jones, miller at Heatherslaw said…’’ Dressing the stones is such an important part of the mill year, when they are put back together and the first flour comes out it is as fine as talcum powder and always a time for celebration, The first of this flour will be available for the Ford Christmas Market on Nov 26th, The Mill is also staying open this winter on most Weds and Thursdays so our customers can call in to buy their flour and cereals”
Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre is once again hosting the “Looking Back” event on 7th & 8th October and this year has something special to celebrate. The Centre has just been accredited by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) as a Rare Breeds Conservation Centre. This award coincides with the RSBT’s launch of their #SaveOurHeavyHorses campaign.
The River Till is the only tributary of the Tweed that lies wholly in England. As the rhyme above suggests, it has a deceptive appearance. Although picturesque and tranquil-looking, it hides strong currents, and it is a spate river – fed from the Cheviot Hills, it can rise fast in wet periods, flooding large areas.
The countryside is constantly changing, both with the seasons and with the activities of man. This week regular visitors to Ford & Etal will notice a big change to the landscape on the road between Heatherslaw Railway Station and Etal. The small clump of Poplar trees beside the cycle path has been felled.
The children from Hugh Joicey C of E First School, Ford Village, became “Heritage Heroes” this summer by taking part in the Heritage Lottery funded Village Atlas Project run by local archaeological group TillVAS.
Hannah Longmuir is a countryside artist, building delicate, detailed drawings by layering thousands of little pencil marks. She combines her love of the great outdoors with her passion for drawing and an obsession with beautiful paper goods.
Ford village, picturesque and secluded, is still recognisable as the place it was a hundred years or more ago. After centuries of border warfare, the union of England and Scotland led to a more peaceful time, and by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the area was a quiet, rural backwater. But it was also an era of change – industry was growing, travel and communications becoming easier, the population was expanding, and agricultural estates like Ford were vital for food production.
Ford and Etal Estates is a quiet and remote part of the country, filled with hidden gems, with many walking trails around the villages and farms. But one of the wildest parts of the estate is a place many visitors don’t get to: the nature reserve of Ford Moss. Situated east of Ford village, it lies away from the main roads, accessible by foot from Ford, or by car along a narrow, winding lane followed by a short walk. The Moss itself is a bog, dangerous to walk on, but a circular path allows visitors to explore the area safely.