Family farm holidays in Cornwall magical for children, toddlers and babies.
Coombe Mill Blog
"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.
There are a few signs for me that spring is really with us. First are the snowdrops and daffodils, then the lengthening days and warmth in the midday sun. Finally the big one here is the birth of our first spring lamb. This year it is Ebony, who I saved from the pot last year, and now leads the way.
A lucky escape for Ebony
Ebony was herself hand raised having been abandoned by her mother. She has proved to be a gentle and friendly sheep with our guests, but a dubious mother herself. Last year she had twins and rejected one who we raised. Lambo became the star of the farm in spring 2018 but no thanks to Ebony. Farmer Nick was all for calling time on Ebony after twice abandoning her lambs, however I saved her for one more year and now I know I made the right decision. Ebony has taken to her new son perfectly.
Born in the wild
Farmer Nick was feeding the sheep with our guests as the last stop on the morning feed run when he noticed we were one sheep missing. As there was no bleating to indicate being stuck up in the brambles we knew there was a good chance the missing sheep was in labour or just given birth. A scour of the field confirmed our suspicions as Ebony sat nursing her new born up in the trees. We followed Farmer Nick up the field as he collected the lamb to bring him down and perform the necessary checks with Ebony following close behind.
Correctly handling a lamb
It may look mean to be suspending the lamb by its legs, but this is actually the safest way, cuddling them to your body may feel instinctive to us but actually risks damaging the new born organs.
Down at the trailer the guests could admire mother and baby while Farmer Nick searched for his new born kit.
Why tail docking is recommended
In no time the tail is docked with a band below the nerve. This will just fall off in the coming weeks and is pain free. It isn’t essential, but helps prevent muck and poo that inevitably builds up when the full tail is left risking infection. Iodine on the umbilical cord is also to prevent infection and help the cord dry safely.
A move to the nursery.
We have a special field for our new born spring lambs which is more fox proof. Ebony and her lamb rode in the trailer with me to get there. The rest of the flock looked on with interest as we left them at the cattle grid.
Spray marking explained
Before we let mother and baby into their new field Farmer Nick gave them a quick spray. It is hard to see on Ebony as she is so dark, but the 11 means she is the first lamb to give birth to one lamb.
Waiting for more spring lambs
While Ebony and her new spring lamb enjoy the nursery to themselves, hopefully it won’t be long before another comes to join them. Watching the lambs make friends and skip around together is a real joy.
No wonder spring is such a happy and positive time to be on the farm. We’d love you to come and see them too. Do check out our latest availability this spring.
We all know fire is dangerous, deserves respect and care, especially when children are near. However with the fear and danger comes fun and excitement. Here on the farm, we have an annual tradition on the back of our Christmas Fun, of saving all the wrapping paper for a big bonfire party. It isn’t a big activity, never the less our supervised bonfire event is one kids look forward to.
A Trailer full of Christmas Debris
All day Christmas Day and Boxing Day Farmer Nick leaves an open trailer out in the car park with a big sign inviting guests to leave their Christmas wrapping, from paper to party hats. This has the dual advantage of not overflowing our bins whilst simultaneously preparing for a fun supervised bonfire event for the kids.
Safety is Key
Over the years Farmer Nick has created some great firework events for us at both at New Year and Bonfire night. Safety is key; especially with excitable risk taking children around. For this reason, even our Christmas big burn is a supervised bonfire event. It is all carefully set up by Farmer Nick in advance, with a few clear rules:
Only Farmer Nick starts the fire.
The fire site location is away from the farm and properties, just off the farm track.
The wind needs to be heading away from the path where people stand.
Wind strength needs to be moderate, not still or too strong.
Children are supervised by an adult at all times, as well as having Farmer Nick present.
Wrapping paper needs to be thrown from a safe distance to the fire.
Large windfall branches form the base of the bonfire. This gives substance and structure for the wrapping paper to be added.
Any near misses must be corrected by adults only.
Let the Fun Begin
Mindful of safety throughout, Farmer Nick invites the guests to join him. They can watch, or take part in, burning the collected waste wrapping paper.
Carrying cardboard from trailer towards the fire.
Watching the fire with younger children.
Throwing onto the fire from a safe distance.
Watching the fire die down to a safe level.
It is such a simple event, yet on a cold winter’s evening provides welcome warmth to the late afternoon fading light. The joy on the faces of the children joining in is clear to see. This is certainly a part of the Christmas break they will remember. As I watched the children this year I couldn’t help but remember the fun my own children would have at this event poking at the embers with a big stick long after the flames had died down.
Join our Supervised Bonfire event in 2019
Weather permitting, we will be doing it all again this year, just a part of our Christmas program here on the farm. We’d love you to come and join us.
So here we are in January and I’m only just finding the time to write up Christmas! We were so busy with holiday guests and then family visiting that the time ran away. Finally I have one safely delivered back to Uni, one back at work one back at collage, 4 back at school, extended family and festive holiday guests left and time to reflect on some of the fun we had. I’m beginning with a post about our Christmas crafts. Ever since I did our Halloween Log craft I knew that it would be perfect to adapt for our Christmas guests. I added a few bits and pieces and before long I had an afternoon of action packed fun waiting for a group of excited pre Christmas children.
Scavenger Hunt to make Christmas Crafts
Having explained to an eager gathering what the afternoon would entail we set off on a special Christmas scavenger hunt. The children had sheets of all the things they needed to find and collect. This was going to form the basis of our Christmas Log Decoration and Christmas bauble.
Making Christmas logs with Father Christmas
Having put quite a time into preparing my example Christmas Log table decoration I was a little worried about how long it might take in a big group. To speed things up I had pre cut some of the more intricate bits. Just as well I did as it still took longer than I anticipated with sharing scissors and paint. The children took real care over their coke bottle Santa’s and decorated the rest of the log in their own style from the bits we collected and resources I provided.
I still had two activities to run but I know Guy had a roaring fire pit waiting for us to toast marshmallows ahead of running the train for the evening so we agreed to return to the games room and finish our crafts after dark.
I may have ruined tea time for a few but the children had a great time dipping their marshmallows in the fire. Succumbing to the excitement of the moment the adults joined in too, after all who can resist a toasted marshmallow?
Coombe Mill Festive Train
Thankfully Guy was not just in charge of the fire but also our train driver for the evening, a few were worried about missing the train but when I pointed out that our train driver was still cooking they stopped worrying. Finally we ran a late train through the Christmas filled tunnel as the daylight fell away.
Reindeer food & Christmas baubles
For those still keen to continue crafting we returned to the games room where the bottom of our coke bottles became a container for reindeer food. OK so we have fallow deer, but let’s not be too picky, our Rudolph was still on standby for Santa and needed some special food with magic sprinkle for breakfast the following day (Christmas Eve). Christmas paper and colourful ribbon finished the packaging and the children promised to bring them along the following day for the morning feed run to feed to Rudolph.
Finally the left over tinsel, ivy, holly and chosen Christmas card pictures were filled into hollow baubles to make take home tree decorations.
There was certainly enough to keep the most active and creative children occupied for the afternoon. With just 2 sleeps left to Christmas the energy levels were riding high and here on the farm the children were thoroughly enjoying the festive build up with us. Join me next week to see the fun we had on Christmas Eve and don’t forget if you fancy leaving the Christmas organisation to us next year and sitting back enjoying a fun festive holiday we are taking bookings now.
I’m on a bit of a roll with my crafts at the moment. One idea morphs into another and a whole new activity emerges. My latest crafts are all born out of the amazing stickabilty of flour and water. First I used nature on pebbles and then on logs to make a dinosaur log and a Halloween Log. This week I worked on my nature log and came up with a Peg fairy with magic wand and fairy dust.
The first thing we needed was to go off in search of a log, a stick and some autumn nature.
Building a fairy garden
I had some new additions for the fairy garden I was keen to add so the children helped me decide where these should go.
Autumn flower fairies
Anyone remember the flower fairy books from their childhood? They captivated my imagination and stuck in my mind creating the autumn habitat on the logs . We piled on acorns, flowers, leaves and more with flour glue before making the peg fairies.
Magic Fairy wand
Winding some colourful wool around twig made a simple magic wand to add to our log.
Making a Peg Fairy
We pushed two thick leaves through the peg holes to simultaneously create wings and arms. Then the children chose some material for a skirt. Bingo our easy peg fairy was ready.
Magic Fairy Dust
All that was left was to sprinkle some fairy dust. For this I just added a few drops of food colour to sugar. To keep things really natural you could use blackberry juice or any other berry juice instead. The children sprinkled a little dust over their fairy logs placing the bulk in milk bottle tops secured with the flour glue. they were only too happy to pose for a photo with their fairy landscapes.
The children were all quite young and I knew they would need a little help to pull this one off but they managed really well thanks to some great parental support and a concept that captured their imaginations.
Create a Peg Fairy Log and wand at home
This would be a fun and educational activity to recreate from a family woodland walk.
What you’ll Need
Seasonal nature gathered from a walk to include things like leaves, berries, acorns, conkers, pine cones, twigs, feathers
A small log with one stable side as a base.
A small twig for a wand
Two evergreen leaves with structure for wings and arms
Flour and water paste
sugar and food colour for fairy dust
Colourful wool or ribbon for wand.
A rectangle of material with small cut at the centre for a fairy skirt
The opportunity to explore changes in nature with the seasons
Here at Coombe Mill we love to make the most of big occasions in the calendar. Halloween is one of those and each year we have a day dedicated to Halloween activities during the October half term. Traditionally half term and Halloween collided, however over time the two have become separated. Such was the popularity of our Halloween Fun day with guests we began running Halloween in half term, wherever that fell. For the first time this year the country is split for half term. Half the country had half term last week and the other this week. The answer was simple, 2 fun days! These are the highlights from the first, though I will be repeating the fun all over again this coming week on the 31st October so no one misses out.
Itinerary for the day
Forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes. When the guests arrive I hand them an itinerary for the Halloween Fun Day as part of their welcome talk. This way everyone who wants to join in can be fully prepared.
Fancy Dress Feed Run
The day begins with our daily feed run, all spooked up with a decorated trailer and fancy dress. We have a games room packed with fancy dress costumes so there is no need for anyone to splash out beforehand.
The fancy dress really sets the scene and the children love the look of the trailer drawing up at 9am. Each year I buy a few new things and add to the disguise. Even Farmer Nick had a new outfit which lasted the whole feed run. Usually he has abandoned whatever I have given him half way round!
Halloween Spooky farm eggs
Without question, the highlight of the morning for the children was running up to the egg box, peering inside to collect the morning eggs only to discover Cadbury crème eggs in spooky Halloween wrapping! We do this at Easter, but when I saw the Halloween eggs for sale I had to buy the lot for our Halloween fun day!
There is then a break till mid afternoon that allows the guests to go out for a couple of hours, often to get some lunch for everyone ahead of the sweeties of the afternoon. This gives me a chance to de-robe the trailer and kit out the train tunnel for the ghost train later and prepare the crafts.
In the past I have left guests to sort out their own pumpkins, this year I bought a load and invited the guests to come and join me for a session of pumpkin carving. With knives, spoons, a white board marker for designing we set to work. I had Theo as my ‘wing man’ to help anyone who needed it and the results were commendable. The children designed the pumpkin faces while the parents and older children carved them.
As the pumpkins finished the children moved to my craft table. Taking inspiration from the past few weeks of log crafts, we made Halloween logs. This time I added green food colouring to the glue paste for a slime landscape. To this the children added spider webs from card and wool, haunted houses from toilet rolls and monsters from painted rocks with googly eyes. I had a tub with left over bits and bobs that the children used to embellish their decoration.
Halloween Fun Day Games
No Halloween is complete without a few games. We were lucky to make the most of the lovely mild weather and set up Broom racing on the lawn. The children ran in teams to complete the broom races.
We then retreated into the games room for some traditional musical statues to Halloween Party music.
Time was running away and I wanted to give the guests a clear hour ahead of the evening activities to sort the children out with tea. We met again at 6.30 at Coombe Halt ready for the Ghost train. I’m not sure how many times the train ran round it’s track, but we were there the best part of half an hour. Our fearsome driver slowed down to go through the ghost tunnel which was full of spooky delights. I was careful to manage the balance between scary and fun as I didn’t want to frighten the younger ones. Apparently I may have made it too much fun as one little girl thought it was Christmas and asked if Santa was calling later, she was having so much fun!
Trick or Treat
There was only one event left. After a quick five minutes for everyone to have a comfort break and light their pumpkins, we met back at the train station. Some of the children had never been trick or treating before and listening to them chatting about how great it was made my heart melt. We took an organised procession from property to property. I had Theo at 6ft 3 as a natural leader with torch and camera capturing the magic of the evening. At 16, he is still a sweetie addict and finished the night with pockets bulging himself!
Halloween will go down as a really fun event with all our guests. I’m already looking forward to doing it all again this coming Wednesday, may be with a few changes depending on the age of the children. If you fancy joining us next year be sure to book for October half term.
Halloween Extravaganza with the Coombe Mill 2018 Fun Day
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.