The Essence of Coombe Mill

Here at Coombe Mill we never let the grass grow under our feet. 70% of our holiday business is from repeat bookings, and every year those returning remark in wonder at the changes Nick and I have made. Managing that change is a delicate process. There is an “essence of Coombe Mill” which we strive to maintain. This is along the lines of

Freedom for children within a safe environment.

Preservation of the natural features and beauty of Coombe Mill

A sense of peace and tranquillity from the moment you arrive.

However in order to maintain this “feel” we actually need to inject change to move with the times and add more of the features that make a family holiday here extra special. This includes updating and replacing and rebuilding of properties, new and more exciting play areas and equipment and maintaining and developing the whole farm experience for our holiday guests. Last year the big changes were the introduction of the Coombe Mill Railway and the Coombe Mill Gym. This year we are focussing on a new luxury cottage to sleep ten and some changes on the farm.

New Ideas

I gather my ideas from suggestions of those staying here and from all over the internet including my Country Kids linky here on the blog. Reading the many posts of children having family fun outdoors each week is the perfect place for me to form new plans for Coombe Mill. I have a Pinterest board for Aspirations for Coombe Mill and it is growing all the time. Sadly the funds and time restrict us from doing everything and so prioritising becomes essential. Putting aside the new build for now, I thought I would share my ideas outside for the farm this year. Watch out Farmer Nick you could be busy!

A Plan of our farm 

Farm Map

 

Our daily tractor rides are just about to become a whole load more exciting. Nick has worked tirelessly for the past month creating a new and exciting path around the top lake as shown by the dotted line from the car park above.  We have had plenty of boys toys on site and the older children have been helping too.

 

Working on a new path around the lake

 

The route until now would run from the car park and stop short of the lake returning home the same way after feeding the animals. The new circuit begins this week taking in all the beauty of the lake, the river Camel and surrounding meadows and woodland and gives me a whole new possibility to implement some of my budding ideas.

Testing the new tractor route; it will be blooming by spring

Imagination

I have seen many magical Country Kids posts covering nature trails, Gruffalo walks, fairy hunts and geocaching and I would love to bring in a taste of this on the farm. In the woodland section I see a gnome and fairy den with little delights just waiting to be found and some gathered woodland food such as acorns mixed with edible glitter for the children to scatter.

 

Coombe Mill Fairy Kingdom

Fairy Food

Educational

Following the new tractor journey along the wooded pathway and around the lakes and along the stream I would like wildlife information boards. I believe I can create these from painted wood cut by Nick to keep the cost down and make them specific and educational to the Coombe Mill habitat; added interest for the children as they travel or later in the day to return with parents on foot.

Nature boards around the lake and along the stream

Safe Fun

Across on the front lawn by the train and the play boat and trampoline becomes very crowded as people congregate and play before and after the afternoon rides. Something else for the very young to enjoy and to build confidence ahead of the train rides would be the introduction of these lovely toddler roller coaster rides. I think two would look perfect and be in constant use. I can see races being set up and if they don’t watch out they will miss the train! They look safe and easy for little ones to manage which is always a prerequisite for me. 

 Toddler Roller Coaster Rides

Inside our ride on play area we have a lovely play house which Nick built. However to me it still lacks the finishing touches. I would love it give it a paint and make it look like a real little fun cottage and inside replace the void space with a play kitchen and table and chairs for the children. Here they can ride outside playing the farmer and then go indoors for their lunch. A great way to spark imaginary play while the parents chill out on the chairs and watch knowing the whole area is safely fenced in. 

The Play area Now

Ride on Play area

 

Ride on Play Area with Cottage make over

 Remodelled Outdoor ride on play area  

 

30 acres is a long way to travel if you have little ones. While an all terrain buggy is ideal, and we have back carriers free to borrow in our reception, how about the introduction of one of these choo choo trains to help little ones zoom around the farm? A Coombe Mill car sticker on the front and back and this would make an investment to be enjoyed by many.

The Fun way to Travel around the farm

Fun Toddler Transport around Coombe Mill

 

I would dearly love to add these additional features to the farm over the coming season however time and money are always key.  

My Financial targets to a £750 budget:

Choo choo £139.99

Toddler Train £129.99 *2 = £259.98

Play Kitchen £99.99

Play Table and Chairs £49.99

Wood and paint for the nature trail £50

New plants round the lake, fairies and gnomes for the fairy garden £150

Edible Glitter for the fairy garden food mix & brown bags to carry £20.00

Mine and Nicks skill and labour £10 per hour £3000 made with love for Coombe Mill.

This blog post is an entry into the Tots100/Activity Toys Direct garden makeover competition

 

 

Polzeath beach October 13 silent sunday

 

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Autumn crafts

After watching a lovely hangout from Maggie Woodley on Google plus I felt inspired to do something with autumn leaves.  They are falling so fast here in our wooded valley it is easy to catch them as they twirl from above. Clearing the pathways is becoming a full time job in itself and a thankless task when the wind is fierce enough to blow down branches blocking the lane as happened to us this week.

Branches blocking Coombe Lane

 

It did however give me an idea. We have lost, broken or misplaced all our kites over the years so I thought it would be fun to try and create some of our own. The kids are always up for an experiment especially if it means some quality time with me and an excuse to run around outside.

Making an autumn kite 

We scoured the farm for straight lightweight sticks

 

haul of sticks from the farm

 

Then selected our favourite two sticks and made a cross using the end of a ball of string. The children opted for the lightest dried reed sticks to give their kite more chance of flying.

Kite Frame

Next I cut a plastic bag to just larger than our cross sticks and the children taped them round the sticks to hold them securely in place.

Taping the kire to the frame

 

Then we searched for large decorative leaves pooling on the car park floor and stuck these round the edge for effect.

 

Kite decorating with farm autumn leaves

 

A wool tail gave the counter balance our kite needed with leaves threaded through it for effect and weight. All that was left was to try it out:

Coombe Farm Kite with tail ready to fly

 

And so the fun began

 

 

I can’t pretend it was effective as the shop bought ones, but it was fun to make and kept the children running round the farm till it finally broke. It was certainly a good use of a blustery and showery day. 

 

Joining in with Country Kids

Country Kids is simply about getting outdoors and having fun in the fresh air. It is great for kids and good for us parents too. If you are feeling uninspired by the wet autumn weather, do take a look at some of the other posts linked up here. Every week I am amazed by the imagination and enjoyment from simple ideas to exciting days out. Grab those wellies and go have some fun. Then come back here and share, together we can inspire one another through the winter weeks to come. Grab the badge, link up and check out the other posts here.

A few of my favourites from last week: 

Fun as a Gran because I know how special one on one time is with children

Peakle Pie for a wonderful story full of magic and imagination behind this country walk

Fab Forty Mum for reminding me how much fun we can have clearing up the autumn leaves, and we have a lot to clear!

Diary of the Evans Crittens for packing so much country fun into a birthday treat. 

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



The Rut is upon us

For our handsome lead buck deer this means a surge in testosterone to the point where all he will focus on for the next three weeks are his lovely lady does. Serving and protecting them becomes an instinct above all other, including eating! Right now he is at his strongest and most handsome after a long lazy summer in our lush fields. But in a few weeks time he will look exhausted, thin and like any of us after too much partying and not enough sleep!

Coombe Mill Stag approaching the rutting season

Already he is holding his head high and gathering the deer around him, when we enter the field he is more on guard than ever before and his penis has turned dark at the end. All this puts us on alert.

 

Coombe Mill Stag protecting his ladies

 

Early in the year when he arrived at our farm he was barely beyond a pricket. This is the name for a buck in his second year of life with just the beginnings of antlers appearing. However we hoped he would mature over the summer and be just the right age for his first rut by the autumn so we are delighted to see all the signs are there.

 

Arriving last winter after the 2012 Rut 

 Stag arriving last winter

 

Implications for our Guests

Generally on the morning feed run we encourage a tour of the deer field to flush out the deer hiding in the trees and bracken and are more than happy for responsible visits into the field at any other time of day. There is after all a public footpath across the field. However just for the next three weeks we need to ensure our guests and the general public are extra careful. It is still fine to enter the field but for our guests we now say only on the morning feed run and with Farmer Nick who can keep everyone together to ensure the deer do not feel threatened or surrounded in any way.

 

 Organised deer hunt during the rut

 

Deer are by nature shy and will run away, but if the stag feels scared in to attack he is a heavy beast and can do some serious damage with his antlers. This message is particularly important as the rutting season coincides with the half term school holidays where we have many older school age children on the farm who are allowed to explore and play around Coombe Mill without their parents. The morning tractor ride pep talk will have important reminders to all about the deer at this time.  As a further reminder the children helped me make signs at either end of the field where the foot path crosses to alert any walkers to take extra care at this time.

Rut in Progress signs for Coombe Mill Footpath

Looking forward

The stag will feed up again over the winter months helped by a cornflake mix from us each morning with our visiting guests and plenty of hay in their feeders. This is necessary as the lush summer vegetation dies back and the cold of winter stilts the natural growth such that there is just not enough to sustain the herd. 

 A pricket feeding on hay last winter

 

As spring returns so will the green shoots and bracken and hopefully we will be rewarded with fawns. The mothers have very few defence methods for their young. They rarely look pregnant or in labour, give birth in a camouflage hiding place and leave their young there alone, returning twice a day only to feed them. The young instinctively know to lie very still and not move even if someone or something comes very close relying on their camouflage to keep them safe. Only when they feel the game is really up will they run. This is how I manage the beautiful close up shots.

Baby Fawn in hiding

Their other defence, which is very clever to us humans, is the ability to delay their birth. If the conditions are not correct they will carry the babies inside for longer. This year the spring growth was weeks behind after the long dry but cold burst from February to May and we were worried we were not going to have any fawns from our old stag, however as soon as the weather warmed and the bracken shot up so out popped 3 lovely fawns all within a week of one another.  

Building Our Farm Calendar

Last week I wrote about planning ahead for the sheep and the goats and this week the deer. Our farm calendar is building nicely so of you are considering a family holiday with us in 2014 there should be plenty of scope to choose a time with lots happening here on the farm to delight all the family.

Farm Timetable for spring 2014 babies

 

 

I’m linking our farm news to these fabulous linkys. Click on them for more posts from other bloggers:

Magic Moments, What’s the Story, Educational and Entertaining, Fun photo Fun

 Butterfly in October for Silent Sunday

 

 

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