Mother Nature is a Curious Thing

April 19, 2015 at 11:00 PMCoombeMill

Learning the hard way

Here at Coombe Mill one of the favourite animals with all our guests is the rabbits. I have mentioned before the problems we have had this year with rabbits thanks to the local foxes and then disease and how disappointed our guests had been to see their numbers dwindle. Finally it all came good and we had beautifully bonny bunnies and healthy parents just in time for Easter.

 

Mother Nature Knows Best

 

All the children were delighted and were allowed to stroke and hold the rabbits on the daily feed run. We encourage the children to sit down or crouch low to hold them as when the bunnies wriggle the children are inclined to panic and let go! It does no harm if they are close to the ground and over straw but can kill them if they hit the concrete from a height.

I often run an activity hour session up at the rabbits where we go through rabbit husbandry, the only downside of this is that it falls at the end of the week just before the children leave so we do run through safe care of the rabbits on the first morning feed run too.

 

Activity Hour with the Rabbits

Once a rabbit feels safe and ready to breed there is no stopping them, hot on the heels of the first litter we had another by a different mother and both were competing for space in the hutch for their nest. The second Mum had mistakenly made her nest very close to the first, a parental squabble ensued and the new litter were all abandoned in days. I think it must be the same mother who fell pregnant again and keen not to repeat her mistake made her nest in the open section of the hutch well away from the growing bunnies. This was all acceptable in rabbit parenting but left them vulnerable to human fingers.

Rabbits growth stages

We ensured everyone was aware on the first feed run of the week that these babies must not be disturbed. However as we ran into changeover day in the Easter holidays and the older children arrived and began to roam unsupervised on their first afternoon there was trouble. I should have kept them all locked up for the day but it was such a beautiful sunny day it felt a shame not to let them out into their yard. One of our regular visitors ran up to me in reception quite concerned to say that someone was moving the babies from their mother. I was just showing in a group of newly arrived guests but Amber had just come back and followed the helpful young boy back to the rabbits straight away. It turns out the children had seen the mother sitting on the babies and in ignorance feared she was squashing them and moved her out the way and relocated the week old bunnies into an inaccessible hutch alone. In fact the mother was feeding her babies at the time. Amber quickly moved the babies back and tried to rebuild the nest as best she could; however having been disturbed and the scent of humans all over her babies it was unlikely she would take them back.

Hutches the rabbits couldn't reach 

We explained to the children the implications of their actions and that we understood they were worried for the rabbits but that they should never interfere with nature. The message was reiterated on the feed run to all the children and parents the following morning and then it was just a waiting game. The children were as good as gold at not interfering for the rest of the week but the baby bunnies were left just as we had feared; their nest abandoned and unkempt. One by one they began to die until there were just 2 remaining. In desperation I tried syringe feeding them with some of Rocky the goat's milk. They took this but I worried it would prolong a slow and painful death as there was no guarantee this contained the correct nutrient balance.

 

Syringe Feeding the Bunnies

 

Every cloud has a silver lining

On day two of feeding them I noticed the Mother of the larger bunnies come in and sniff my returned baby all over, lick away the milk I had given and allow the baby to huddled back in with her offspring. It looked as if the older baby bunnies had accepted their abandoned baby friends and with their scents all combined so the mother had taken them all in as hers!

Nature is a funny old thing but it is always best left alone if you are unsure.

 

Baby bunnies in their new nest

 

 

I hope we will have more baby bunnies throughout the spring and summer here on the farm, if you fancy a holiday with us and some careful bunny cuddles do check out our price and availability page.  

 

 photo 4d06e438-4e6a-4f3b-88b2-0c1093350397_zps361ad0e9.jpg     ANIMALTALES

Silent Sunday / Project 52 / My Sunday Photo

April 18, 2015 at 11:40 PMCoombeMill

 

 

Feeding chickens & Goose on the tractor feed run at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall   TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky         OneDad3Girls

Country Kids from Coombe Mill

April 17, 2015 at 11:40 PMCoombeMill

Easter holiday fun

Here on the farm we have enjoyed a wonderful Easter holidays full of children, fun and laughter, the weather has been mixed but we are always prepared and the fun carries on regardless.  

Crafty Fun and Games at Coombe Mill

Easter give such wonderful opportunities for crafting and games leaving us spoilt for choice at Activity Hour. After a reasonably dry week it poured with rain on Friday but we were prepared with Farmer Nick's new tent. We covered the new ping pong table with dust sheets and pulled up the benches Farmer Nick and Felix had finished making just that morning laying out our crafts as everyone scurried in out of the rain and wind.

 

Ready to begin Activity Hour in the new ping pong tent at Coombe Mill Family Holidays, Cornwall

 

I had spent my evenings the previous week working out how to turn a previous week's successful pig craft from a toilet roll into an Easter Bunny. Where there is a will there is a way and my bunny was formed together with Easter Bonnet where the bunny could hop down and rest in your pocket!

 

Demonstrating my Easter bonnet with jump down bunny at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays

 

The idea really appealed to the children and we wasted no time in handing out paper plates to work on our bonnets. The older children worked on the spiral cutting & ribbon pinning while the younger children settled for colouring their bonnets whole.

 

 

Decorating paper plates to make Easter bonnets. A Coombe Mill Holiday craft on the farm.

With bonnets decorated we began to make our bunnies. The children were great at cutting and bending to form the ears while I helped with feet and stapling to their hats, the finished results were a triumph of up cycling!

 

Making rabbits from toilet rolls craft at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Activity hour

 

After all that concentration we had a spot of fun with guess the real egg from the cracked egg in the tray with a chocolate mini egg for everyone selecting the whole egg.

 

Guess the whole Egg Game at Activity hour on the farm.

 

Those with the cracked eggs who lost out on the mini eggs were invited to bring their cracked egg over to lead an egg and spoon race. It was harder than you might imagine keeping the lightweight egg shell on a spoon and race but even the youngest children showed great skill and everyone ended up with a chocolate egg reward.  

Egg and Spoon Race

Back in the tent we shared some of the website letter forming worksheets for the younger children and farm word search for the older children as created for us in partnership with twinkl educational resources.   After a week on the farm all the children could easily place the lifecycle pictures for a hen in the correct order too.

Educational Teacher approved twinkle Worksheets at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays.

 

It was a wonderful use of a rainy afternoon on the farm whilst still benefiting from some fresh air and a lovely way for the children to spend their last afternoon together. The tent is conveniently located right next to the train station so there was no chance over running, everyone piled out to join Clio our driver as the train drew into the station and rain cleared just in time.  

 

 

Joining in with Country Kids

If you have been enjoying some outdoor fun over the holiday period please come and join me on the linky. All outdoor posts welcome from crafting to exploring. Time away from screens enjoying the wonders of nature and freedom of outdoor space is healthy and fun for all ages, even us parents! Please grab the badge and remember to check out some of the other posts here, it might just be the inspiration  behind your next adventure.   

Country Kids is around in these communities, I'd love you to join me:

Pin on the Pinterest Board Just ask for an invite to pin and include Country Kids on your pins for me to stop by on your boards too (no need for a hash tag in Pinterest)

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A few of my favourites from last week:

Lakes Single Mum popped in to visit us on the farm and wrote this fab post about her morning.

Grand Gardens and Stately Homes have been thoroughly explored this week by Mother Distracted and Little O and Me.

Would Like To Be, You Baby Me Mummy and Chez Mummy enjoyed nature in the sunshine.

Trying something new was on the agenda for Bubba Blue and Me, Stressy Mummy and Me, You and Magoo.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

   

   

Leaving children home alone

April 12, 2015 at 10:10 PMCoombeMill

 

Parenting  is all about making judgements, about nurturing and knowing when to let go. But do you know when your children are ready to spread their wings, to stay home while you nip to the shop, go out for a meal or go away overnight?

 

Leaving the kids home alone

We have brought our children up to be self sufficient, to do for themselves and to help us out with the business. My eldest has been babysitting for us for a couple of hours since he was 11, shocking to some, but he is capable, respected by his siblings and we were never more than a few minutes away. As the years have passed and the children grown up we have encouraged them to do more for themselves. My eldest two at nearly 17 and 15 do all their own washing and can make a light meal not just for themselves but for the rest of the family too and answer most of the queries coming through the business.  My only complaint is their reluctance to answer the telephone.  I have to shout at the answering machine for one of them to answer when I am trying to ring home and I know they are there. My last resort is facebook messenger on the wi fi as there is always someone chatting there!

Despite all this I have never thought to leave them overnight apart from last year when we were lucky enough to go to the MAD Blog awards.  The school holidays are my chance to catch up with them, not to be driven by routine, school and clubs and to indulge in some family time. However Nick and I were also craving some couple time. When he suggested we leave them running the farm and have a 2 day break I laughed. I could see how put out he was by my response, developing a male slump and so began to give it serious consideration. The children could do everything on the farm, except have the confidence to lead the feed run, if Farmer Ted and our apprentice Amber could cover this then what was really stopping us? Guy could run the train as usual, they could cook and wash for themselves, answer most problems arising and rather than wanting Nick and I accompanying them all the time would probably relish a little more independence and trust. Going away in term time is out of the question as they have no way of travelling to school without us. We broached the idea with them and they were all very relaxed about it. I think one of my secret fears was wanting to be a good Mummy, to be there to cook an evening meal as I always did, to go on family outings, to be there to answer the business calls and sort out their sibling squabbles. Actually what the children wanted was more independence, less family outings and more trust.

Realising it was time to let go, to give that trust, especially after Theo had disgraced himself earlier in the year was not easy. However I knew Nick and I needed a break too. We took the plunge, gave the obligatory parental warning about not leaving a hob on and burning the house down or a tap running and flooding the place and left.

Grown up treat night away

It felt strange to be away knowing they were in charge, I knew they wouldn't contact me unless there was an emergency and I craved a little reassurance that everything was alright. Thankfully I had my spies with 5 bloggers staying on holiday at the farm; huge thanks to One Dad 3 Girls, Minnowmep, Redpeffer, Southwarkbelle and Ruggles Leisure for those little tweets and Instagram pictures with #coombemilleaster that reassured me that all was well.

We returned 2 days later to find everything much as we had left it, no wild parties, punch ups, missing drinks or anything else you might imagine with teenagers home alone. They had enjoyed their freedom and managed the business perfectly and we had benefited from some couple time.    

If it were not for Nick pushing me I'm not sure I would have felt ready to take this step, in hindsight I can see it has benefited us all and we will definitely do it again. Our children are growing up, they are young adults now and they have shown they are ready to be treated as such.

I sometimes hear parents here on the farm telling their young children not to run and I wonder why not? If they fall it is only grass beneath them, they won't break anything but they will begin to learn their limits and come to understand what their body is capable of.

 

Allow children the space to flourish

 

As parents we are programmed to protect our children, however if you can give them space within that protective sphere to flourish and grow and resist the urge to over nurture, even if it means experiencing a few knocks along the way, it will build their independence and self assurance to their benefit and yours one day.

 

 

 photo 4d06e438-4e6a-4f3b-88b2-0c1093350397_zps361ad0e9.jpg      

Silent Sunday / Project 52 / My Sunday Photo

April 11, 2015 at 11:40 PMCoombeMill

 

Walking up along the river bank at Coombe Mill with bodyboards & surfing down

 

   TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky         OneDad3Girls

Posted in: On the Farm | Weekly Photo

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"Tales from the farmers wife" shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all. 


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