Here on the farm we love to embrace nature. Alongside our farm animals if you sit in a quiet spot on the farm all manner of wildlife will pass you by. However for those less patient we have a fun woodland trail to hunt down our wildlife statues cunningly hidden just enough to make it a challenge.
Add to nature a little mystique and imagination and little ones can spend hours in our wooded fairy gardens. Often our weekly farm activity hour will involve hunting for treasure or bugs in here or collecting flowers, leaves and twigs for crafts.
I like to do a few of our worksheets sheets from the website, read a story or make a jigsaw at the start of our activity sessions. When Orchard Toys asked if I would like to review their Woodland Party Jigsaw I knew immediately it would be the perfect start to my hour of fun. I have reviewed Orchard Toys games in the past I am always impressed with their quality and educational bias; the Christmas Surprises game had everyone engaged at our family Christmas Eve Party so I had high expectations from the Woodland Jigsaw. I laid the pieces out on a large table and invited children over to have a go. There was a real mix of ages all joining forces to complete the magical jigsaw of a fantasy woodland party scene. What I loved about the jigsaw is how it brought the children together, created team work, sharing and a sense of achievement. It was lovely to stand back and watch as interest in the task took hold. Older children helped the younger ones and everyone had a turn at fitting a piece into place.
The jigsaw is designed to cover 4 key educational learning areas
1. Developing manual dexterity
2. Encouraging imagination
3. Reinforce counting skills
4. Promote observation and discussion
The recommended age for the jigsaw is 4 to 7, however I know some of the children, including my own, enjoyed in joining in too and still found it a challenge. If you are making the puzzle alone with your child, rather than with a group, a younger child may need a hand getting started with some corner pieces to work from.
The completed scene did remind me of many of the garden parties, casual picnics enjoyed by our holiday makers and children’s parties we have had at Coombe Mill over the years.
The Woodland Puzzle is available from the Orchard Toys website for just £9.75 offering hours of fun to complete again and again.
If you would like to try and win one of these lovely puzzles for your child just follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part.
I was sent my Woodland Party Puzzle for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own. If you are holidaying with us this year our puzzle is available to borrow from the games room
How do you let animals roam safely and the cars pass through a field without having to open and close gates to the road ?
Install cattle grids!
Well it may sound simple but actually this project has been rumbling on forever. It was last year when Nick came up with the idea to combine our top fields behind the properties allowing a wide grazing area with a path right down to the rabbits. His vision was to finally have all the animals on the farm accessible from the morning tractor and trailer rides without little legs having to walk too far. The fields in question cross the main entrance to the Scandinavian lodges and the prospect of asking guests to open and close gates every time they entered the farm really wasn’t practical and so thus far anyone staying while either the ponies or sheep have been tucked away in these far away fields have often not found them all week.
Cattle Grids felt like the answer, they worked up on Bodmin Moor for the ponies and sheep there so why not for ours.
Looking up a supplier of cattle grids was our first hurdle, they seemingly don’t exist! We ended up needing a blacksmith to make them for us to our required measurements. The massive stainless steel grids cost us a whopping £3000 and so Nick decided he would economise after after taking delivery and install them himself.
I was less than happy with this as they were so heavy I had visions of lost limbs before the job was completed. Undeterred by my concerns Nick, with the help of our boys at weekends, spent weeks digging the holes, laying concrete and finally positioning the grids into place.
He even included a soak away for excess water and a little escape route for any smaller wildlife becoming trapped inside the grids.
The cattle grids were now safe for cars to drive over, and hopefully strong enough for heavy building vehicles in the autumn when we start building a new lodge, but it still wasn’t safe for the animals who could bypass the grids. Nick is an expert at fencing and in no time he had a professional looking fence either side of the grids.
All that remained was to add hinged gates for walkers to pass through.
The moment of truth came when we opened the gates to the top fields housing the ponies and sheep and waited to see if they would come out to investigate the alpaca in the lower field and vice versa.
We didn’t have to wait long, the sheep led the way across the road catching the alpaca by surprise.
Nick began feeding them down near the rabbits and they soon learned to congregate there for breakfast, now the guests could finally see all our animals without a huge hike.
Now that we are open for the season, cars can come and go freely across the cattle grids, well apart from having to hoot at the odd animal on the path, and the animals have enjoyed having a much larger field to graze and learned to rub alongside one another quite happily with all the space.
As for me, I’m just delighted Nick and the boys managed to see the project through with no injured limbs! I fear one of these days they are going to take on too much but I hope that is just me being a protective mother and wife!
Finally we saw the sun reappear. I became a little over excited seeing our soggy farm bloom again and found myself out snapping away rather than working in order to soak up the rays and appreciate the beauty around me. As a result I’ve struggled to narrow down my favourite photos this week but have settled on the most story worthy:
First sunlight of the day rising over the hills and reaching our valley. I love how it just catches the mossy roof top of our log store and reflects off the still damp Cornish slate tiles. It gives a promise of the day that was to follow.
A dry day gave us the chance to have a huge bonfire clearing out the last of the internal wood from the old Riverside lodges and pieces of wooden furniture left after our charity sale, more on this one to follow in a separate post. I find a good fire quite mesmerising and couldn’t resist a little slow mo of the dancing flames.
Needless to say the animals were delighted to feel the sun on them. I threw a handful of grass in for the rabbits on passing and giggled as two of them munched on the same piece from outside in till they met in the middle and looked like they were kissing!
Shhhh……. we also had babies born this week, but without fluff they look more like like baby mice at the moment, hopefully they will be old enough to take out of the nest for a quick photo next week.
My personal favourite photo of the week was this i-Phone snap taken walking up our lane as the sun set.
I hope you’ve had a good week and are looking forward to spring now that March is almost here.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Guy and Jed had taken up Rugby; they absolutely love it and will go out in any weather, happily rising on a Sunday morning when previously they would lie in.
I’m keen to support their enthusiasm as it is a great team sport, fantastic exercise and they both seem to show a talent for it; Guy as prop and Jed as wing. I turned up early to collect them with my long lens just to see how they were progressing and was quietly impressed with the skill they showed and the quality of passing between them and their team mates. It was only a practice session but they have since played in 2 matches and helped their team win against Newquay last week.
Coming home it was straight in the bath as they were caked in mud, however they may as well not have bothered, there was some bleating coming from the top field and Guy, volunteered to go and check it out. He had his knife in anticipation it was yet another ewe stuck in the brambles in our top field. As expected as soon as Guy approached the eve she gave a huge tug and freed herself together with a trail of brambles and speed off down the field. As he was already up the top he decided to carry on round the perimeter of the field, there lying in the undergrowth was a lone sheep. As he approached she made no noise, nor did she attempt to stand up, he was sure she was dead, yet when he leant over to touch her she flinched. He tried to free her of brambles and help her to stand with no luck. It was pouring with rain and he had no choice but to return to the house for assistance. Ally was on hand to put his gym work to good use and carried her down the field to a waiting tractor and trailer, please excuse the photo quality it was torrential and I just grabbed a few phone shots.
Safely in the shed we rigged up a heat lamp as she was shivering violently, added a bucket of water and some feed and left her in peace. We kept popping back to check on her each time fearing the worst but amazingly she was still hanging on, yet still unable to stand. As a result she couldn’t access her water so we used one of the bottles ready for lambing and took it in terns to feed her while Nick gave her a syringe of magic antibiotic.
We were becoming optimistic as she began to gain strength, however we worried that there was a more serious problem as despite her kicks she couldn’t put weight on her legs, even with us trying to help her up. Hours became days and we kept turning her over and feeding her with her bottle and despite beginning to look brighter she still couldn’t stand. Farmer Nick had a word with our farming neighbours who specialises in sheep and he have us a bottle of liquid molasses he uses for ewes struggling with twins; warming the syrupy mix seemed to make it quite palatable to our young lady.
Eventually I had a final go at righting her knowing we would soon be going away for half term and with a wobble and a stumble she stood! The kids couldn’t believe it when they came home from school and it took just one more night in the trailer before she was strong enough to go back out in the field again. She really is a miracle sheep, I have never seen one come back from looking so near death before.
I was very proud of how the children had pulled together on the wettest of days, helped the ewe, nursed her and refused to give up on her. Hopefully the lamb she will be carrying will have survived too, we won’t have to wait too much longer now to find out, as we begin lambing any day!
I’d love you to come and share your outdoor fun with me here on the linky. All posts are welcome from playing in the garden to days out. All I ask is that the post is predominantly outside, away from screens and enjoying some fresh air. I’d be delighted if you would take my badge or link back here and please remember to check out some of the other posts, it might just be the inspiration for your next adventure.
Country Kids is around in these communities, I’d love you to join me:
Pin on the Pinterest Board Just ask for an invite to pin and include Country Kids on your pins for me to stop by on your boards too
Join the Google Plus community page for Country Kids and add #CountryKids to your tag elsewhere for a +1 from me
Share your posts on Instagram and Twitter with#CountryKids for a like or a re-tweet
I am delighted to announce that Rockfish have joined with Coombe Mill to sponsor the Country Kids link up. Rockfish are a local Cornish company specializing in stylish Wellingtons for all the family. We have been offering their country wellies in our borrow room here on the farm for over a year and they are always popular for their style, comfort and durability.
Each week my favourite #CountryKids posts will be considered for a free pair of Rockfish Wellies at the end of the month; the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors whatever the weather throws your way. The wellies we offer may change each month but are always high quality, comfy and stylish so keep an eye out here on Country Kids to see which designs are up each month. My February winner will be able to choose any welly form the online range. For more more information on the Rockfish Wellies on offer with us and terms and conditions to win see here
Possibly my favourite Stick Man post of all time from Little hearts, big love
Boys united on a forest fun run from I wasn't expecting that
Cannons and castles makes for a perfect day out for Over 40 Mum to one
Making the most of a day at the beach from Mummy Mishaps
A day of snow in France makes the holiday for Chelsea Mamma
On top of the monthly free wellies, Rockfish has kindly offered everyone who enters #CountryKids this week a chance to win of 25 off at their online store, a little extra incentive for some affordable outdoor fun
We all know the importance of learning maths from a young age. It is one of the core subjects that all children need to learn yet it may seem unfair how some kids just ‘get it’ while others ponder. It may be hard to iron out natural inequalities however we can give our children every chance to be the ones who succeed by bringing maths into every day fun activities even before formal schooling starts. Here on the farm we often mix a little maths learning into activity hour, it may be choosing something longer or shorter than something else, working on a shape with paper or in nature or counting things on a nature walk. The children are never told they are learning maths, it simply fits into our hour of fun, although we have a full education category on the web site for those wanting to further all schooling related to their farm holiday experience.
Gavin Mair, a UCL Mathematics Masters Graduate turned Goldman Sachs banker, has picked up on the evidence amongst educational bodies suggesting that learning with your child will enhance and speed up their ability to grasp the concepts and used this to create Number bundle, a monthly subscription toolbox for parents to help their children in maths.
Each box takes a topic from the national curriculum that is age relevant, for example boxes for pre-schoolers cover colour and counting whereas Year 2’s explore more complex areas like symmetry and division. The boxes come with full guidance for parents including all of the materials and discussion points needed to introduce and expand on the major themes from the mathematics curriculum, whilst spending fun, quality time with the child.
Every month the box contains a range of activities to engage your child including cookery, arts & crafts, active games, solo puzzles, cross stitch, outdoor play, science and a story. This really appeals to me as a way to learn outside of the classroom and I can instantly see how it might fit into our weekly fun on the farm here.
Number bundle boxes cost £21 for a single purchase box or £16.99 per month for a subscription whereby each month subscribers are sent a brand new themed box. You can find out more from their website at www.numberbundle.com
We have been testing the preschool box and true to its word, the box really does think of everything. The activities are diverse so there is always something that will really appeal to your child, after all, we all learn differently and these boxes certainly allow for that. Here are just a couple of the ideas that we enjoyed from our box.
A welly hunt from our borrow collection; I showed the wellies, then hid them then the children had to find them and order them from smallest to biggest.
The older girls enjoyed the enjoyed the mazes matching bigger and smaller people while everyone liked making playdoh shapes to fill in on the animal mats. (Mats provided, playdoh is our own although there is a recipe to make your own in the box).
There are plenty more activities in our box to go at, you might just see me referring to them over the summer in my Country Kids posts.
If you like the sound of Number bundle and have a child age 3 to 7 why not enter our competition to win a six month subscription and watch your child become that “can do” mathematician whilst having fun.
I was sent my sample number bundle box to review; all opinions expressed are my own.