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.
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I had a real mixed age range for half term on the farm and wanted to come up with a craft that would appeal to them all, especially the 9 and 10 year old boys who I suspected wouldn’t join in if the activity wasn’t spot on. I’ve not run a session of bow and arrow making in years, however I had inkling it would be right up these boys street from youngest to oldest. I was right, despite being the nicest day of the week I had quite a gathering return from the beach in time to join in.
I had enlisted the help of Guy who, reliving his own childhood had made a template for us to follow. He and his brothers then proceeded to fire it around the garden and I was worried it wouldn’t survive till activity hour! Turns out it was well made and only a lost bow into the trees needed recreating.
Sticks from the Fairy garden
Guy had been pruning some trees for Farmer Nick and saved the best bow style twigs to scatter in the fairy Gardens for the children to find. They also each chose a length of bamboo for a lightweight arrow.
Back at the craft tables Guy whittles notches in the end of the bows and arrows. He also explains a little knife safety.
Making a Bow and Arrow
Now we were ready to turn twigs into bows and arrows. We used strong string in the groves cut by Guy to create the bow. A length about 20 cm over the length of the stick is ideal for tying and tensioning. A slight bend in the stick will occur, just like a real bow.
Bow and arrow decoration
We used a mix of colourful floristry ribbon and wool to decorate our bow and arrows. Some of the boys just wanted to go straight into play, but when I reminded them we needed to identify whose arrow went furthest they relented and began to choose their colours and materials. By the end even the most reluctant was embellishing their design with a wrap around hand grip.
Making a Target board
To make things more fun I laid a white sheet down on the slope of a hill and the children helped me paint around a dustbin lid to make a target. This is perfect for giving them a direction to fire in and something safe to aim for.
Target practice fun
Needless to say they had a great time firing at their DIY target. To make things fair the younger children were helped by parents and stood closer. The older ones relished the challenge of standing further and further back.
Tips if you try this at home
Tension good quality the string well.
Use a stick with a slight bend for the bow but not too flexible or it may snap.
Keep the stick to a maximum of ground to chin height, otherwise it may become unwieldy to use.
Arrow needs to be long enough to pull back without going beyond the string.
Ensure arrow is straight to control direction.
Having a target keeps a focal point to the firing.
Make sure children are supervised with using the knife.
Why not make a nature crown or headdress to go with your bow and arrow.
Easter Holidays bring Easter crafts. Here on the farm the weather has been dry and sunny inspiring plenty of fun on the farm and friendship building. We have been rounding off the Easter weeks with a lovely nature inspired outdoor Easter card and decorative log craft session.
Setting the challenge
It is always a joy to be able to set up outdoors in the sunshine for our craft session. I was soon joined by some eager crafters keen to discover what we would be making. I showed them my example Easter card and Decorative log pointing out that none of the things to make theirs were in sight. This had them a little confused, until I handed out a list of things for them to go and find for themselves in the fairy gardens.
They didn’t need telling twice and raced off with their lists in search of all the things they would need. There was quite a few items to collect and it kept them busy hunting.
Easter Decorative Log Craft
Once back at the craft table, the children set straight to work on their log craft. In anticipation of a large group I had a big tub of flour and water paste ready for them to all dig in and start designing. I love the creativity that emerged, they may have taken inspiration from my log, but they certainly added their own Easter design and took an enormous amount of pride in their creation.
As the finishing touches were added to the decorative logs I began to explain how to twist the wool around their Easter card frame.
Next they scoured the surrounding field for pretty spring flowers and leaves to weave into the frame. Finally they opened their cards to write and draw their chosen Easter Messages.
A treat from the Easter Bunny
They were some delightful results with both the Easter cards and decorative logs. With so many attending I was glad I had prepared well with all the basic elements, leaving the children with the creative finding and decorating. I know from our Christmas Logs and Halloween Logs just how much time they can take. There was just one final treat, the Easter Bunny had revisited the Fairy Garden while the children were working and hidden some little chocolate bunnies for them to find.
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
Whether you love it or hate it this week is all about Halloween. We have gone all out for our 2018 Halloween Fun Day this year in October half term. For the first time we have added pumpkin carving. Traditionally we have asked our guests to source and carve their own pumpkins to signal participation in our famous Trick or Treat evening. However this year we are including pumpkin carving in the afternoon crafts. Our first session was last Wednesday, but as half term stretches over 3 weeks this year we will be doing it all again on Halloween itself.
With no exciting pumpkin patches in Cornwall and the need for rather a lot of pumpkins Farmer Nick scoured the internet for good value pumpkins. Morrison’s came up trumps with a discount on bulk bringing us down to around 50 per pumpkin. We laid them out on our craft tables with a collection of knives, scoops and Theo’s great know how. We soon had a hive of activity taking place with little ones designing the funny faces and adults and older children carving.
Pumpkin carving activity table
Light up those Pumpkins
Later in the evening each cottage and lodge lit their pumpkins to guide the way for our organised Trick or Treat Procession. They shone beautifully in the night sky. Many of our younger guests had never experienced pumpkin carving and lighting before and were totally taken in by the magic of the evening.
Lit pumpkin for Trick or Treat
Nutritious Pumpkin Seed Snacks
Nothing is wasted here on the farm. We Have Sally and her 6 piglets who are only too happy to be the recipients of all the pumpkin scooping. However the pigs have to wait until I have saved the seeds. They are create dried out for crafting, or scattered on a baking tray with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled for about 10 minutes till popping and browned. I took a tray out for the guests to snack on whilst carving. In our house I have a storage jar full to add them to snacks and meals for us.
Avocado, crispy bacon and melted cheese on toast with roasted pumpkin seeds & wedges.
If you fancy going Pumpkin crazy with us, we are already taking bookings for next October half term. There is also a ghost train, fancy dress feed run, Trick or treat, games and crafts for all. If you are staying this coming week you have plenty to look forward to.
“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.