We escaped the snow up country; in fact I think we fared better than most with some beautiful April sunshine and glorious evenings. OK there have been a few hailstorms in between and it has been chilly at times, but it has also been properly warm in the sun. I think the farm agrees, we have had two sets of twin lambs born this week, our little pet goat came off the heat lamp and the farm is finally greening up for summer.
I’m starting off with Clio on the evening train ride just to prove we did have some truly beautiful warm days.
Goats are such comical animals and love to climb and explore. Queenie our pet goat follows me on my farm rounds and loves to stop and play. I think the April sunshine has really gone to her head.
It always makes an interesting feed run when there are new born lambs to discover. We are nearly through lambing now and I think I can safely say it has been our best season ever.
I mentioned how the farm was greening up for spring; you can really see it here compared to the last couple of weeks around the river and lakes.
Walking the farm at dusk and locking up is one of my favourite times for photos. I love this photo of Guy looking down over the farm.
And this one looking out at the sunset.
We even took advantage of the last of the April sunshine for some Maypole dancing in Activity Hour and made maypoles and bunting for a fairy party. More of this to follow on next week’s #CountryKids, but if you crept back to the fairy Gardens at dusk you would have seen the gnomes joining the dancing.
The week was totally blown away for me on Friday discovering I was shortlisted in the BIBs for Social Media and Readers Choice. Thank you if you voted for me, it really means the world. Of course that means the next round is up. There are some great blogs in all the categories, do check them out and please vote for your favourites. If you are one of them good luck!
For activity hour I always like to come up with an adventure, a challenge or something creative. If I can add nature, education, imagination I will. After the success of raft racing a couple of weeks ago I was keen for a new water based activity. Instead of rafts on the river I decided on sailboats on the lake. I searched Pinterest for ideas but drew a blank on something substantial enough for the size of our lake. Thankfully I have Farmer Nick, my DIY guru, who enjoys a spot of sailing when the chance arises. Together we worked up a milk bottle prototype. Nick had rigging and a boom on the sail to which I added a touch of nature and an Egg Man challenge which gave a sense of adventure and the weight in the boat we needed.
I was really excited to try this out and took my prototype sailboat out to the start of the morning feed run as a reminder to everyone on timings and to set expectations for the afternoon activity.
“Imagine Egg Men have landed from a foreign planet, you have to create their identity and return them home across the Coombe Mill Lake in sailboats. For every Egg Man that completes the journey there will be a treat sent back to Coombe Mill for you to keep.”
There followed a flurry of excitement as the children from tots to parents embraced the challenge. There were sticks, flowers and leaves to be collected
Bottles were cut and masks and rigging added with plenty of Duck Tape Colours, staples and string. The floral decorations made each raft bespoke along with the children’s choice of Raffia sail colours.
Egg men were designed and added to petal and leaf beds in the well of the boat.
Finally we were ready for the sailboats to take their challenge. It was quite a trek from the games room round to the lake but even the youngest managed it complete with sailboats and egg men and all lined their boats up on the slipway. We added a stone to the side of the boat without Egg Man to give balance and were ready to set sail.
Guy was out in HMS Bath Tub for us ready to scoop up and boats in trouble and we had what looked like a successful launch
However just a couple of feet out what little wind there was dropped and the boats drifting back towards the slipway! It was time for plan B and Guy gathered all the boats out of the water and rowed them to the middle of the lake where he released them once again. We agreed the challenge was now for the Egg men to make it in their sailboats back to shore at any point. There was just enough breeze to do this and the kids raced round the lake to see where their boat would hit land.
It was almost a full house with only one overturned sailboat and one child slipping into the lake (only knee deep). Back at the games room I collected the adventurous Egg Men to send home and as promised they left chocolate golden eggs and a Coombe Mill badge for the children.
It was such a fun afternoon and a challenge that really appealed to the children. I think this is an activity I’ll be repeating again in the summer. If you are interested in trying this one yourself I’ll be adding a tutorial for making these sailboats on Trash2Treasure next Monday.
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, which include my badge or a link back here, 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.
Congratulations to Diary of the Evans Crittens who has won the April Rockfish Wellies with a lovely post about a day at Haverford West
My May 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
Bikes and scooters can transform walking for kids. Buba blue and me found them a great help exploring Eastbourne
Finally this DIY garden play caught my eye for being resourceful and with learning qualitites from Play at home Teacher
On top of the monthly free wellies, Rockfish has kindly offered everyone who enters #CountryKids this week a chance to win 25% off at their online store, a little extra incentive for some affordable outdoor fun
Here at Coombe Mill we strive to deliver amazing educational children’s farm holidays. From toddlers to the end of the primary school years we provide holidays where having fun and learning go hand in hand. Our morning farm rides take the children out onto the farm in a tractor and trailer where they have a chance to drive with farmer Nick. Coordination and steering control is something they love to practice. Once with the animals question come at quite a pace and Farmer Nick patiently answers them. Hands on care and feeding opportunities are there for all who are willing. No one is forced to participate and children opt in at their own pace picking up on the experience of others. Watching confidence grow during a holiday here is magical for parents.
Learning through doing can stop here, but for those who want to supplement their understanding we also have farm educational pages on our website. These relate back to core areas of the national curriculum from maths and English to science and art.
Our craft hour at the end of the week brings together farm learning, imagination and a little fun themed with events during the year, again education is made fun and the children respond with dedication and enthusiasm for all we do from hunting for bugs to making sail boats.
When the makers of a new children’s educational magazine contacted me to see if I would like to receive a copy, I was immediately curious to see what was Amazing apart from the title.
I was thrilled to discover the philosophy for learning was akin to Coombe Mill. The magazine is designed for kids who can read independently and probably moving into key stage 2 at age 7 plus. Using a fun comic style, national curriculum subjects are covered in an engaging manner. Think horrible histories across all subjects, in fact the ex-editor of Horrible Histories is part of the team, as well as writers from Simpsons and The Beano. Reading is fun when it’s about things that appeal to kids. Zombies, aliens and smelly feet all have their place in education. The Amazing children’s educational magazine know just how to relate these fun subjects back to stuff kids really need to learn. From words derived from Latin to recipes and various subject challenges there really is something for everyone to suit both boys and girls.
How to make a catapult caught Guy’s attention. We had all the items in my craft cupboard so I brought them out and watched him create following the magazine instructions.
Guy practiced firing a bottle top from his catapult and worked out how to achieve the most powerful shot.
Here at Coombe Mill we love our copies of this children’s educational magazine and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others. It is amazing value to at £49 for an annual subscription or less for online copies. I think this would make a great gift idea from friends and relatives who want to invest in your child’s future.
If you have a child age 7 plus who might enjoy this fun style learning journey trough a monthly copy of the magazine why not enter below and win a year’s subscription delivered to your door.
Just follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part.
We were sent our copy of the Amazing children’s educational magazine to review, however all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.
I make no secret of the fact that spring is my favourite time of year here on the farm. After another wet and mild winter so typical of Cornwall, spring brings welcome sunshine, new growth and all the promise of long summer days to follow. The Lambing season at Coombe Mill is deliberately drawn out in order to increase the chance of a birth while our spring holiday makers are here. We ration Rambo our Ram to one new lady a week. This way we spin the lambing season out over March, April and early May.
Each year we eagerly await the first arrival and take nothing for granted in nature. We had a note of when the first was due and moved all the sheep across the road into secure lambing fields in preparation. Then we waited, and waited. Right on the end of the three week window our first Ewe delivered healthy twins.
We breathed a sigh of relief, Rambo had done his job and the lambing season was underway. That was mid March. Since then we have had a steady stream of healthy births, some twins and some singletons, but all healthy.
The only ewe to give us trouble was Ebony. She was our abandoned lamb of 2 years ago and had to be hand raised by us. Those sheep must instil something in their young that as humans we just can’t replicate as when Ebony gave birth to beautiful healthy twins she walked off and left them. Thankfully for the twins it all happened during the morning feed run. Farmer Nick spotted Ebony down for breakfast with the other Ewes, her behind giving away that she had just delivered. Nick assumed she would eat and return to her newborn. However she finished eating and wandered off to graze. By the end of the feed run she was still alone so we searched the field for her lambs, brought them and Ebony indoors into the stock trailer to bond whilst Nick worked on a make shift pen in the shed. Before he had even finished it was clear things were not going well.
When the twins tried to feed from Ebony she head butted or kicked them away, I now feared for their safety. It was clear Nick was going to need to make a double pen and in super quick time as we held the lambs. Thankfully with odds of wood and plenty of tools and straw in the shed we soon had the pens ready with the lambs in one side and Ebony in the other.
The next job was to express some milk for the twins as they still had had nothing since their birth. Ebony may not have been a natural mother, but she is a very gentle ewe and it was relativity easy to milk her which was just as well as we had nothing else to feed the lambs with at that point. Even the guests volunteered for a go after the first few feeds.
We rigged up a heat lamp for the first night for the lambs and left them in peace. Over the next couple of days we began bottle feeding the lambs with lamb milk formula as Ebony was drying up and looking unwell.
We gave Ebony a couple of “miracle” sheep jabs but she deteriorated fast. Nick diagnosed depression and said we should let her back out into the field and see what happens. He was quite right, being kept in didn’t agree with her and while she refused to stand in the shed she bounced back to life in the field with the other sheep.
The lambs thrived and we decided they needed names. Jack and Jill was the most popular vote from some wonderful facebook suggestions.
Jack and Jill became the highlight of the feed run each day for the following weeks progressing from the shed to the nursery field with their own field shelter. We had originally planned to keep all the new mothers and lambs in here for their first week of life however Jack and Jill now needed the smaller enclosed field so the older lambs and Mums were forced to move back out. Thankfully this has worked out giving everyone more space this lambing season and as yet no losses to foxes unlike last year.
Jack and Jill will remain in the hearts of all who stay this spring just as Rocky and Sprout the goats did last year. We always do all that we can to bond mothers with their newborns, but sometimes nature has different ideas. Thankfully we are on hand to step in with cuddles and bottles.
There is a bit of a double twist to my kids and birthdays heading this week. My triplets turned 12 with the mother of all sleepover parties in our new games room with 15 of their closest new friends from secondary school. Meanwhile over on the farm Bully, our least friendly goat as the name suggests, gave birth to our first and only kid goat of the season.
12 is an awkward age and the triplets tossed ideas for their party around for months. Since I was adamant I wasn’t having 3 parties they had to agree on something. In the past I’ve organised parties and made games up for them, but this year they were too old for that and just wanted their friends for a sleepover. I ended up with 18 of them all for a BBQ and a sleepover in our new games room. With table football, pool, pong and Wi-Fi all night they had a ball and I sent home 15 tired children the following morning.
The cake took me hours to make but was almost all gone by the morning, I’m suspecting a bit of a midnight feast!
We have had a great season for lambing this year, more about this on the blog tomorrow. Our goats have not been such a happy story. We have lost all at birth apart from one tiny little bundle who wedged herself safely between two panels of the shed and was found by Nick on his early morning rounds. She may have been rejected by Bully but she is much loved by us.
By the end of the week we had let Mum back to the field, moved the little kid onto formula and let her experience a little outdoor fun. If you fancy helping us name this little girl please head over to our Facebook Page
Apart from kids and birthdays the farm is blooming and spring has sprung. Wherever I look the farm is turning green and spring flowers are thriving. this is one of my favourites taken from the garden of Eden Scandinavian lodge.
I couldn’t resist this one either, the fresh green of new spring leaves on a branch over hanging our river.
Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.