Family farm holidays in Cornwall magical for children, toddlers and babies.
Coombe Mill Blog
"Tales from the farmers wife" shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.
2 months of back breaking fence building and we (OK Farmer Nick and Ted) have created our very own…………
The building of the new wallaby compound, or Jurassic Park as it has become known, has incorporated an extension to the duck and chicken enclosure. It now boasts several side pens to house chicks and ducklings at varying stages of development. Things are never a quick bodge job with Farmer Nick on the job; it has to be the Rolls Royce version! I must confess it will make for an easier feed run for the smaller children having all the ducks and chickens in one place.
Ding Ding: Round 1 to the Wallabies
With Jurassic park complete with secure wallaby fencing, Nick assembled a willing group of local volunteers to help catch the wallabies from our neighbours field (the recently closed North Cornwall Aviaries). A rather wet day and a hole in the fence left me with lots of setting up pictures and a forlorn group heading home damp and wet with….you guessed it, no wallabies. They had the last laugh legging it through the hole in the fence within the first 5 minutes. Shame it took us the next hour to work out where they had gone. I was beginning to think they were as elusive as the famous Beast of Bodmin!
Ding Ding: Round 2 to the A Team from Coombe Mill
Not to be deterred, farmer Nick assembled a new team this morning, many of whom were recruited from the feed run before hand. Never has taking part on a working farm had such a literal meaning! With the fencing at the aviaries patched and the trap re assembled it was time to set off and explain the ‘master plan’ to the new team.
I have to hand it to ‘The A Team’ everything worked like clockwork from beating the line to closing the make shift trap. To be honest, I did have a job balancing camera and trap door against the speed of the wallabies, multitasking really tested me there for a minute!
An intrepid Journey
After a quick victorious picture we loaded the wallabies, all 3 in total carefully into the back of Farmer Nick’s stock trailer for the short but bumpy drive back to Jurassic Park.
The rest of us took the scenic route back cross the meadows and through the wood and arrived to meet Nick and the wallabies just climbing the slope to Jurassic Park. Here their intrepid journey ends and their life in Coombe Mill begins:
Farmer Nick With a Soft Heart
Worried that their new home has plenty of friends but much less jungle to play in, Nick brought the now rather tired play house from the children’s play area as a fun house and shelter for the wallabies. Our children came home from school to lend a hand and size up the new additions to the farm. Hopefully the nosey chickens will allow the wallabies a look in their new home later tonight!
A windy day last week saw the Deer’s favourite tree come crashing down through the fence, lopping off some Oak branches before coming to rest in the pony field. It was a quick patch up job to bodge the fencing, before really getting to grips with repairing the damage.
Rotten yet beautiful
The old beech tree turned out to be rotten right through with only around 6 inches of strong trunk holding it up all round the edge. The structure itself is full of interest, call me a nerd, but 30 plus centimetre fungus in layers hanging off the sides is really quite fascinating along with the soft light interior. I wish I had a more elaborate camera to demonstrate!
What about the Deer?
Funnily enough the Deer must be creatures of habit, they still gather in the same far corner of their field during the feed run, even though their best camouflage tree is lying on the ground! As we creep up on them in the mornings they still make a dash down to the bottom of the field.
Turns out the goats are now in heaven. They currently share the deer field and oak leaves to them are like cake to you and me, the beech a close 2nd place! Just as well goats are deft climbers as the tree is so large and precariously fallen only they can wind their way in amongst the spindly branches for the tastiest leaves. Farmer Nick thinks the tree will keep them going all year, if they can ration themselves, I fear they will gobble up all the best bits and go pop beforehand!
The children have all been quick to see the attraction of the fallen Beech too. The potential for a natural climbing frame always so much more fun than one purpose built! My children are also planning den building and camps with great enthusiasm!
Farmer Nick, Always the Opportunist
Farmer Nick and a chainsaw are never far behind a fallen tree! The branches crashing though the fencing are already being collected for next year’s firewood to fuel our cottage and lodge wood burners.
3 Cheers to the British Beech
The old beech tree really was a beauty in all its years standing, yet is now still proving it still has much to offer for us at Coombe Mill!
I am sure we wern’t promised a sunny day, but when it snuck up on me yesterday I had to make the most of it. After a lovely morning feed run, Farmer Nick and our eldest son Alistair drove off with friends to Plymouth to watch the Americas Cup (sailing), leaving me and the younger children behind. I could so easily have lost myself in the office and kitchen for the day but the sun shine was just too tempting!
Just chilling out
Clio and I wandered out onto the farm on own at first, only to find many of our guests making the most of the various Coombe play areas too. As usual it was minutes before I was happily chatting to the parents and Clio playing with their children.
Lunch out on the veranda with Clio retelling her morning adventures meant I had a queue of requests from the boys to go out on the farm with them in the afternoon! Why is it that they can jump on the trampoline at any time, but it’s only if I jump on it with them or we climb a tree together that it becomes an adventure?
Not so welcome
Our guests were not necessarily delighted to see my boys appear, like a tornado ripping through, shouting, pushing (each other) and general showing off. They meant no harm of cause, but they are bigger than the tots we welcome here in term time and despite my best efforts to shush at them I think everyone was pleased when the ‘bigger boys’ moved on and peace was restored for toddler play!
Theo and I stopped by the orchard to gather apples, it has only been going 2 years but already we are benefiting!
Nick and Alistair came back with stories of over turned boats and disqualifications and tremendous speeds in the sailing, before heading off to clear some new land we have just purchased near the cottages. This of cause was perfect boy stuff and all the boys disappeared together on the tractor for tools, equipment and a lesson in tree chopping from Dad!
Family Catch up time
The perfect opportunity for me to finish off the gammon in cider casserole I had been trying to get stuck into all day! With my monseter size cooking pot and 3 large gammon joints there was plenty for my hard working wood choppers and a few meals for the freezer in the shop too. Everyone had a story to tell over dinner from trampoline flips to over turned boats, new friends to aching shoulders.
I am just a real mother hen, happy to see them happy and making the most of their childhood here at Coombe Mill.
Picnics remind me of my own childhood, of freedom, fun, friends, happy times and play. I suppose this is why I am such a fan. They are a break from the routine, a chance to chill out without the formality of meals at home or at a restaurant and therefore always popular with small children. The sitting still etiquette can be wavered at a picnic introducing a fun element. My children always end up eating twice as much as they would round the table at home.
All the fun and excitement and you save a fortune compared to eating out too! No stressing over whether they like cafe/restaurant food, whether it is good for them, whether or not to let them have the fizzy drinks, and worrying that they don’t like it after you have paid and waited to be served. All the content of the picnic and the time of when you eat it can be exactly as you choose. Now I think about it that has huge advantages!
When and where to Picnic
We are huge picnic fans and take every opportunity. We have even been known to carry a picnic to the play area or front lawn at Coombe Mill and indeed I have seen many of our guests do the same. The If you are not staying with us then a picnic in the garden with a sun tent or in the local park can be a great half day activity. The beach is another favourite for us, all that running around building sandcastles and paddling and the kids are always ready to eat an hour earlier than usual! A quick hand rinse in a rock pool and they are ready to tuck in! Any day trip is worthy of a picnic, in Cornwall we have so many family attractions which make a great day out and every time the picnic wins for us. Having 8 in our family makes finance a big factor but for all the convenience and fun factors already mentioned I think we would choose a picnic anyway!
What to pack for a picnic
I always vary my picnics to keep it interesting but have a few golden rules:
Never pack chocolate in the summer or anything else you are worried about going off or melting
Make more sandwiches / rolls than you would at home, kids will eat more outdoors!
Pasties, sausage rolls or toasted sandwiches wrapped in foil are good alternatives to sandwiches for a change
Use the picnic as an excuse to have some of the treats you don’t always allow at home (crisps are a winner with mine, they are a real treat food normally and they don’t melt or go off)
Bought little cakes or biscuits are popular with us as I always bake my own at home
Dried fruit like raisins and apricots or carrot batons travel better than fresh fruit
Pack plenty of drinks, water or squash but they will drink more on a picnic too.
On colder days a flask of hot chocolate goes down well
For a real last minute picnic simply drop into your local supermarket and buy everything en route, no hastle at all, all the fun and still much less money than eating out!
A few extra tips from experience
Always know where the nearest toilets are to your picnic spot – kids always eat then need the loo!
Wet wipes for sticky fingers
Use disposable containers – I recycle ice cream tubs – then you can throw it all away afterwards
Don’t stress about making and packing the picnic, simple and quick is fine or it becomes a chore
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.