We have had our best ever year in lambing. No disasters, no lost sheep or orphan lambs, just one little rejected lamb, named Ebony, who is now thriving out in the fields with many of our holiday Farm Helpers keen to give her daily bottles of milk.
Having just one ewe left to lamb I was beginning to worry; she was looking huge and fully bagged up with milk but with nothing more to suggest she was due to give birth. We were keeping a daily watch on her every morning and evening to look for any signs of distress, since sheep are renowned for hiding any pain until it is all too late. I really thought I was going to need to dig out some rubber gloves and ruin her dignity with a poke round to help out. My fear was that the lamb may be breached or have died without her body yet responding; however each morning she just looked larger but still in good health.
Sunday the 26th April, just when we thought we might have a speedy feed run due to the drizzle and the triplets who were excited for their birthday party here straight afterwards, the ewe decided this was the morning to give birth! Nick had taken his usual early morning tour of the farm to check there were no problems ahead of the guests when he spotted her lying down with not one, not two but three little lambs all lying beside her! They were all alive but wet and looking weak as she hadn’t given birth in the shelter, instead choosing the furthest corner of the field in the rain.
A quick chat back at the house and we decided that I would do the morning welcome by the tractor & trailer in the car park while Nick took another tractor and his DIY trailer up and parked it next to the triplets ready to move them.
Back at the car park there was great excitement as I explained we had a surprise for everyone which had caused farmer Nick to be a few minutes late. In no time we were off on our daily adventure. The Pigs, ducks and chickens are always the first stop and they were all alerted to the sound of the tractor while Ebony made it quite clear she was more than ready for her bottle.
Then it was on to deal with our new family. They hadn’t moved from their birth spot and let us walk right up. There were gasps all around as we dipped the umbilical cords and popped the lambs in the trailer.
Mum as ever was the hardest and it took all Nick’s strength to lift her into the trailer. Guy and Clio were tasked with holding her lying down for the short but bumpy journey across the fields to Nick’s shed, however she was too strong for them so I jumped on board handing my camera to one of our guests for safekeeping and she kindly took a few photos too.
They were safely unloaded into the new pen Nick and Guy had quickly constructed earlier and appeared to be comfortable with a dry floor beneath them. We watched them feed before continuing the feed run.
The rain looked set in for the day and much to the disappointment of the triplets we rang round to postpone their birthday party till next Sunday, of course this was cue for the sun coming out! Undeterred we found ourselves a new adventure for the afternoon, which will feature on Country Kids this coming weekend, and ate the birthday pizza and cake for tea. I’ll be baking again for next Sunday!
A final check on our new family, some more bedding and we knew we could sleep happily with my rubber gloves and most of the ewe’s dignity spared for another year. Hopefully if the weather stays dry later this week Mum and triplets will return to the field.
For those lucky enough to be staying at Coombe Mill on Easter Sunday we had a treat in store. The Feed run set off as usual with Farmer Nick handing out Little helper hats and welcoming all the new guests aboard the tractor and trailer.
When the tractor draws up at the chickens there is a surprise waiting to be discovered. While hunting for eggs from the chickens and helping feed them, Farmer Nick has been there in advance and hidden enough chocolate eggs for every child. The children are a picture when they find them; I really think some of the younger guests may believe we have magic chickens that lay chocolate eggs!
The children stored their eggs away in their pockets for when their hands were clean and continued the feed run meeting Ebony our bottle fed lamb and all the other animals finishing with the deer where we had to explain they could stand close but the deer were too shy to be stroked.
Back at the car park we agreed on half an hour to warm up and wash hands as it had turned very cold and was threatening to rain before returning for an Easter egg hunt. This gave Clio and I time to hide the eggs too. We used our three outdoor play areas hiding the eggs in varying levels of difficulty to accommodate an age range of around eighteen months to twelve years.
The older children watched patiently as I led the younger ones first into the toddler playground to hunt amongst the little house and ride on toys. For many this was their first ever Easter hunt and they were thrilled to find a shiny egg hiding in a car boot or perched on a pedal.
Finally the older children were given their clues. The excitement manifested itself in an inability to walk; instead they ran from place to place. I held them back to enjoy the suspense as long as possible by withholding where they were heading until the last minute. This also gave the younger ones a chance to tag along too. Once in the know they ran full pelt towards the named play area hunting high and low, round all the play equipment until everyone had a stash to share.
From play area to play area we covered Coombe Mill leaving no swing unturned.
The children ignored the rain that began to fall, they were warm as toast from dashing around and only the parents began to look chilly.
A very happy morning on the farm although I suspect a few appetites were lacking at lunch time, my own included!
If you have been enjoying some outdoor time please come and join in with Country Kids. Any form of outdoor fun is welcome from learning and crafting to playing and exploring. Just grab the badge code and link below. Every week I am amazed and inspired by all the lovely posts that link up. Please do take some time to read some and see what fun fellow bloggers have been up to. It will leave you full of ideas for day trips, garden play and so much more.
Just a few of my favourite posts from last week:
Charlie Moos goes back to basics at Studland Sea School
I love the look of this farm day by Dear Mummy Blog and Farmer Nick has his eye on the diggers
Lakes Single Mum takes a long walk with the kids through the most beautiful countryside
Let kids be kids takes paints to the beach. What a great idea.
3 Kids and a Gluestick found explored an enchanted forest at Groombridge Place that looks like heaven for adventurous kids
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Guy is the Coombe Mill resident Train Driving expert at just 10 years of age. Since the train first ran last June he has taken charge of the daily rides. I am so proud of the way he stands up undaunted to a new crowd of guests each week to introduce himself and explain all about the train. He shows maturity and patients with the children and thoroughly deserves his pocket money for his work. However just like British Rail sometimes there are problems. Guy tells the latest drama in his own words.
It was just a normal day driving the train when *bang* something broke, so I stopped the train, looked under the bonnet and cleared it of leaves but it would not start. I was not sure what else to do so I called Dad (farmer Nick) over, even he had no idea but he does have a mate who knows more about electrical things and together they managed to get a solution, but we were worried that it was not going to be a long term fix. We have a spare tractor but we never thought of getting a spare train… until now! Dad rang the train company and they said “no problem we can fix it and get you a new one” but Dad said it would not be cheap or quick. It took them a couple of days to get our new one ready for us and during that time we were praying the temporary bodge we had done would hold. Thankfully it did.
When the call came to say the new train was ready we had to change the train clock to “not running today” with the use of our tool box which caused lots of misery and disappointment. We promised to try and do it all in 24 hours so that the guests would only miss one day of train rides.
Dad and I packed our bags, loaded up the train and set off on the long journey to Kent.
Lucky for me our journey involved a stop at KFC’s, something we don’t have in Cornwall and a huge treat!
When we arrived at the train place there were thousands of trains and cool parts. I wish we could have bought them all. My favourite was the one with the side steering and soft leather seats; it was like sitting in an armchair.
There was even mini coal for the small steam trains. I was lucky enough to see half built trains with all the working parts on show, this was awesome. If I had to guess how many trains there were I would say about 120 including the ones that were part way through being built.
It was too far to travel in one day so we stayed overnight at Yia-Yia’s house (my Gran). We were treated to a meal out in a lovely Italian restaurant. The following morning at 6:00am we set off on the long journey home. It was a really boring drive, well apart from the McDonald’s stop where I won a free Fanta and on the free Fanta I won a small fries, how lucky was I?
When we finally arrived home I helped Dad to take the extremely heavy train out of the car and took it for a test run. It was running as smooth as silk so Dad and I grabbed the screw driver and changed the train time on our big homemade clock.
For now we have a shiny new blue Thomas the Tank lookalike train while we wait for ours to be repaired. I wonder if I will be able to go with Dad to collect our old one? After all I have a free Fries to redeem from McDonald’s!