Happy Birthday Farmer Nick

Posted on February 11th, 2017 - Fiona

The start of February is always made brighter for us with Farmer Nick’s Birthday. It may not be a significant one this year, that’s my prerogative this autumn, but it is still a time to celebrate.  With my eldest away at University and Guy and Clio in France on a school trip we were down numbers this year. Hey ho that’s more cake for the rest of us!


Happy Birthday Farmer Nick

Farm work continues birthday or not

Despite a lovely family evening a farmer’s chores must continue even on a birthday. There is no explaining to the animals that it is Farmer Nick’s Birthday and please could they just wait an hour or so for their breakfast today!   That said it was a few days ahead of our half term guests arriving so we were a little later than the scheduled 9am fed run.

Farmer Nick on his tractor on his birthday


I am delighted to say that the new chicken coup we built has made all the difference to our chickens. I’ve never seen them looking so healthy. The ample space, good ventilation and a variety of levels to explore makes for happy sweet smelling chickens even at the end of the week.  That said they still crowd together over the breakfast table.


Breakfast time for the farm chickens


All our ducks are now indoors too, however the wild birds that stay with us like the guinea fowl are not ours to trap, and he still follows round the fed run stealing a little food from the other animals at every chance.


Breakfast time for the farm chickens


Hay is the mainstay of the winter food for most of the animals. Carrying it is heavy work and something I struggle with, Farmer Nick manages to make it look easy and fills up the troughs in a fraction of the time it takes me.


Breakfast time for the farm chickens

Celebrate your birthday at the farm

This coming week will be quite different on the farm as we are busy with little helpers for half term. If you have a birthday during your stay with us do talk to me about making you a cake to celebrate, and unlike Farmer Nick, farm chores are optional on your birthday!  


How to Make a Valentine’s Charm for the Garden

Posted on February 5th, 2017 - Fiona

With Valentine’s Day clashing with the half term holidays I like to do something fun to mark the occasion with the children staying here at Coombe Mill. While they may be too young for the romantic side of Valentine’s Day, they have no difficulty with the concept of love, especially family love and hearts as a symbol of this. Last year we made some fun heart charms for the children to remember their holiday and hang in their gardens at home. I hung my Coombe Mill valentine’s charm up in the Fairy Gardens and would you believe a year later it is still twirling in the breeze. On the basis of how well they lasted I decided to make a country trail for the children with them this year and share with you here how to make one yourself.   

How to Make Garden Heart Charms

What you’ll need to make a Valentine’s Charm

  • Cardboard, a cereal box is ideal
  • Duck tape colours of your choice
  • Floristry ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Pen
What you'll need heart charms



  1. Draw a heart shape on a piece of card to the size you want your charm to be and a smaller heart inside.
Draw your heart shape
Cut out your heart shapes
  1. Cut out the outer and inner heart.
  1. Cut strips of duck tape colours and cover the card ensuring all exposed edges are covered to keep your charm waterproof.
Tape the Heart to create waterproof layer
Split the Floristry Ribbon in two or three
  1. Cut a long length of floristry ribbons and tear into 2 or three pieces.
  1. Wrap the ribbons round the heart from the centre leaving two long ends for hanging
Wrap the Floristry Ribbon around your Heart
Hang your Heart Charm in the Garden
  1. Hang your valentine’s charm the garden.

A few alternatives to try

Ideas for early year’s children:

Try cutting different shapes for young children and using them to learn and match shapes and colours.

Make different sizes and see if children can order them from smallest to biggest. 

Make your valentines charm into a necklace or medal for all the family to wear on Valentine’s Day.

Ideas with older children

Turn them into pretty bunting in the garden or living room.

Make a Valentines Nature Trail or Treasure hunt as we are doing with clues or nature facts tucked into the floristry ribbon.

Making Heart Charms in Activity Hour

I hope you will find a use for these cute valentines charms, they are so simple to make and very long lasting even outdoors.


Trash 2 Treasure

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 North Cornwall with images from around the world.

Posted on February 4th, 2017 - Fiona

Coombe Mill is set just off Bodmin Moor in North Cornwall. It is nestled at the base of a valley with the river Camel running through the middle. The Camel’s source is high in the moor and it reaches the sea at Padstow. It struck me when looking through a few comments on my Pinterest just what a beautiful part of the country we live in and how it resembles parts of the world many miles away. My countryside sunset photos have been likened to Africa while our rugged coast and turquoise waters likened to Hawaii. Winter harbour photos have been mistaken for summer in Padstow and I see New Zealand’s south Island in much of our North Cornwall landscape.   

Postcards from North Cornwall

I thought I’d share a few of the recent contrasting photos that have generated these global comparisons.

Padstow Summer or Winter?

I always maintain that the coast is timeless and seasons melt into one. But for the temperature which is hard to convey in a photo, this photo in Padstow was mistaken for summer but is in fact from a visit over the Christmas holidays


North Corwall boasts of Padstow

Cornish Coast or Hawaii?

I have taken to running the coast path this winter after dropping the kids into school in the mornings. There is a beautiful loop covering the coast and veering inland that covers about 6 miles. One of my favourite views is coming round the headland from Polzeath and seeing The Rumps stretching ahead. This photo was a quick I phone capture last week that was likened to Hawaii.


North Corwall coastline near Polzeath looking like Hawaii

North Cornwall Countryside or Africa

I do love to chase a sunset. With my long lens looking out from our lane towards the sea the orange glow reflecting back has been likened to the African plains.


North Cornwall Sunset looking like Africa

Coombe Mill or New Zealand

I have never visited the African planes or Hawaii, however I have been to New Zealand and parts of this remind me so much of home here in North Cornwall. This next photo is taken along our ravine and is typical of the waterfalls and streams of New Zealand.


Stream at the top of the ravine at Coombe Mill North Cornwall looking like New Zealand


If you fancy an exotic holiday without the cost, North Cornwall is a pretty good compromise!  For everyday bargains Marks and Spenser have some savings you may like and a little careful shopping with find you plenty of other deals from well known companies. Grab your bargain whether it is a holiday or a new look for the home.   

My thanks to A Modern Mother, Mummy from the Heart,  Lets pack our Bags Blog for inspiring this post through their comments on my Instagram photos.  

DisclosureSponsored links included. 


Keeping chickens safe from the European bird flu.

Posted on January 29th, 2017 - Fiona

When the government’s chief vet announced in December that all birds should be kept indoors for at least the next 30 days my heart sank. We have the most amazing “Jurassic Park” for keeping chickens and ducks safe at Coombe Mill with fresh water pond, fox safety fencing, shelter and all mod cons – well if you are a chicken or duck that is.

Jurassic Park

In theory we could move everything indoors for a period, but we knew the birds wouldn’t enjoy it and neither would we enjoy the resulting smell from having them all cooped up! We had no choice but to do as advised. The risk to humans from bird flu is still extremely small but it would be churlish to ignore the advice. Over the coming week we gradually captured the chickens and moved them to our old peacock enclosure. It had been a makeshift home last winter for a month when the field became too slippery and wet for the guests to enter. This winter they would have to return even though their field was still lovely and dry.

Chickens in Peacock World

The ducks and geese were harder. An even older Avery has now become their home with much help needed from Guy, our resident geese catcher in moving them. On the plus side the space for them is much better than for the chickens, so long as the structure actually survives another year!  

Ducks into their new home

Farmer Nick had a premonition that the 30 day indoor ruling was likely to be extended and set to work creating his very own chicken world for keeping chickens safe behind his farm shed. Being such a handy man really comes into its own at times like this. He spent every spare moment over the Christmas holidays taking advantage of the older two boys being home from college and university to put his plan into action.

Building the new home for keeping chickens

Beginning with a proper concrete floor and building up with solid wooden walls and doors, a patch of scrubland was transformed into a luxury chicken coop. Nesting boxes, perches and lighting will hopefully mean even our winter guests will be able to find an egg for breakfast!

Finished Chicken Coop

The chickens certainly looked happy to be leaving their old quarters and scratching round in the fresh sawdust of Chicken world. I was mighty pleased for an opportunity to give the old home a good hose down!

Finished Chicken Coop

Because my clever husband always thinks one step ahead, he made the new housing extra large; sectioning off a second room that can be used for other any other animals that need to be moved indoors. A poorly animal, new struggling mother or even all the goats or donkeys in prolonged periods of wet weather can now be housed indoors as well as keeping chickens safe.

The other end of Chicken World

It will still be good to let the birds back out into Jurassic Park again, but for now at least we know they have a comfortable indoor home.   

 Do you know anyone keeping chickens? Are they indoors now too?

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January’s Farm is Filled with Calm

Posted on January 28th, 2017 - Fiona

It has been years since I can remember a winter like this one.  Days of frosty mornings, temperatures only climbing as the sun creeps over the valley giving way to glorious afternoons with a taste of spring and real warmth from the sun. Yet it is still January’s farm and by mid afternoon that spring sun climbs up the opposite side of the valley with visible speed leaving behind a heavy reminder that winter is in fact still in charge.   That said, compared to the past few years of endless warm rainy days with fears for the safety of the animals catching pneumonia from the damp and everyone squelching in mud, this year is like the winter wonderland of postcards and childhood fairytales.

A January Afternoon

I have shared plenty of frosty morning photos over the past weeks, the joy of my morning farm rounds as the sun rises over the valley, so today I’m sharing the late afternoon. That half hour in the day as the sun beats down its last rays before retreating up the hill.

Out on the farm the animals know this is the time of day to savour, they can all be found quietly soaking up the sun. I wonder if they appreciate how lucky they have been this year, or remember the rain of January’s farm last year.


Goats at Coombe Mill Farm Holidays in the January afternoon sun


Down by the lakes the sun has left a warm glaze over the water which sits as still as can be apart from the odd carp rising to the surface or the wild ducks coming for a swim.   Our farm ducks and geese are all now indoors. More on how we’ve managed that on the blog tomorrow.


January's Farm with Yellow Gorse of Cornwall over the lake

January’s Farm at Sunset

 I can’t resist trekking up through our deer field and out onto the lane to follow the sun’s retreat up the valley.  I am rewarded at the top with a beautiful sky looking out towards the sea.


January's Farm at Sunset


I wonder what February’s Farm will bring?




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