Dear Diary Sunday 20th March

Posted on March 20th, 2011 -

Welcome to another wonderful sunny day at Coombe Mill.We have had such an eventful few days since my last post I have hardly had time to sleep!

Firstly our beautiful 3 alpacas arrived on Friday afternoon. They are just gorgeous and make the cutest of cooing noises to you. We are delighted at how friendly they are being led beautifully into the field on arriving and clearly intelligent as for their first feed run this morning they knew just where to congregate for breakfast! They are less shy than the deer and we were able to stroke Coffee this morning which was a real achievement as this was their first time seeing so many faces all fascinated with them. I am convinced that as the summer progresses they will become more and more familair with thier new home and realy enjoy thier morning visit from us all. They love a small piece of carrot too if you are visiting them during the day!

Our bookings are going from strength to strength this spring and we had our first busy changeover of the season yesterday. It felt so refreshing to have such a beautiful sunny day with some real warmth. The sheets dried in no time out on the washing line….
The spring warmth is making the grass shoot away, lovely for the animals to have some fresh grass again, not so good for poor old farmer Nick who is back out with the lawn mower again for the season!
The thing that really makes a Saturday changover all worth while is to see our newly arrived visitors out explorig the farm and discovering all that Coombe has to offer
Fortuately we have loads of daffodils on the farm right now as my children are endlessly bringing me bunches, I was worried they were desimating the farm but there are still plenty for all to enjoy and I hate to discourage their loving gustures, though I am running out of vases!
The children were even inspired to help Dad by washing the car yesterday afternoon, all good stuff except they managed to soak themselves in the process, rather deliberate I feel, and narrowly avoid placing our newly arriving guests in the firing line of the water hose!
Afternoon feed bottle time for Domino the lamb now, I wonder if I will find any helpers on the farm with my chores?

Dear Diary Wednesday 16th March

Posted on March 16th, 2011 -

The summer weather continues at Coombe Mill with clear blue skies and real warmth to the sun. Nick has chosen just the right day to bring in Ben the digger and begin to clear a path around our top field. The field, stretching from behind the cottages to the rabbits, is the largest we have, however the fencing is just so poor we have never used it for any of our animals which is a crying shame really. I have to confess to climbing to the top today in an endeavour to collect some pics to share and realizing that it is probably the first time in 8 years I have actually been up here! Shame on me, usually I stick to shouting to my children playing there from the confines of the garden that their dinner is on the table. Anyway it was well worth the climb and I shall be doing it more often, the view is amazing, I could see right across the cottages, the river, our animals over the river and up to nearly the top of St Breward, I was looking for the church tower but couldn’t quite see that.
With 3 Alpacas arriving on Friday, a new Shetland pony last month and lots of pregnant goats, sheep, chickens and ducks and Dotty the pig, I think Nick is hoping to rotate the fields a bit more with this new one. Goodness knows how much it is going to cost to fence it is so vast, and there is talk of using it as 3 fields, so for that I read more expense – “oh deer, keep the bookings coming in Fiona” I muttered quietly to myself! That and worrying at some points that digger, driver and bank were all going to come tumbling down onto the lane, they seemed to work so close to the edge. In the end I was pleased to report only a few minor landslides which I sent Nick to clear!
Work went on till dusk but only 1/3rd of the field covered so its back to work we go in the morning!
Farmer Ted spend the day with paintbrush in the kitchen in Water Mill again after the feed run and I had a frustrating day sorting marketing changes and washing beds….no quick job with 8 of us! I was very glad of the excuse to come out and check up on the boys with my camera!

Dear Diary Tuesday 15th March 2011

Posted on March 15th, 2011 -

The farm today – Tuesday 15th March

Why do I always end up writing this so late at night? I guess I can answer that quite easily….it is the only quiet minute of the day! We had another glorious spring day at up to 15% at one point, we are so very sheltered down here in the valley that we really do have our own micro climate. I always warn guests when they go a mile up the hill into the village they will need an extra layer! All this warm sunshine is really showing the farm off at its best with spring growth all around us – animals and plants! Farmer Nick has been busy in the orchard most of the day with stakes, rabbit deterrents and new planting. I think we have apples, pears, plums and cherries now, yet to see any fruit mind you, but you never know, this could be the first year! the daffodils are blooming and even the grass seed is beginning to take down on the recently re landscaped lodge path.
Wondering back from the orchard and looking across the river I could see 3 naughty goats on the loose. We knew Hudini could escape, but it appears she has taught her friends a trick or two! they were all having such a lovely time foraging along the banks of the river I didn’t have the heart to try and put them back and left them to their business figuring they would return to the safety of their field and shelter at night.
Poor Farmer Ted drew the short straw on such a beautiful day and was to be found donkey deep (well not literally) in paint inside Water Mill. we are turning the property upside down again repainting and updating furniture and lighting in the rest of the house in the with the lovely modern transformation made to the living room and downstairs bedroom. Now the whole house will be in the same modern style in time for Easter – if I can get the sewing machine to work for my new curtains!

Dear Diary Monday 14th March 2011

Posted on March 14th, 2011 -

Evening to all who choose to follow my chatter. Another action packed day which has disappeared in a blur! Again I am racing the clock….would really like to see waking the dead in 15 mins, lamb is bleating in the kitchen for her evening bottle but on the positive side I have 5 out of 6 kids in beds with a night night kiss and a reasonable stab at the evenings homework!
I do so love sunny days. Why is it that when we only have a few properties filled with guests we have the best weather, then when we are at peak prices and full to bursting in August it pours with rain! Anyway I am ever the optimist and determined we are having hot sunshine this August so panic not if you have booked then, Mistic Meg Cambouropoulos has predicted good weather!
Anyway the highlight of my day has to be my afternoon stroll around the farm before the children came homef from school. The animals like me were lapping up the suns warmth in various stages of afternoon nap. I couldn’t resist a few pics, they all looked so peaceful!

My excuse for the stroll, yes I need an excuse to drag me away from the computer, the house and daily chores, was to see Domino, our orphan lamb, who was spending her first day out with the other sheep and newborn lambs. She had an hour yesterday, but the children rescued her when the other sheep butted her on coming too close. Today we decided to let her tough it out for a few hours, but I just had to go and see how she was getting on. To my relief she seemed quite happy, a bit distant from the others but keen to become friends with them. She still ran over when I called and welcomed her bottle, only to act like a typical teenager afterwards, edging away from me and skipping back off to explore the field. I felt a little hurt at her lack of need for me but also very happy that she was so keen to intergrate with her own kind.

She is now safely tucked up in the kitchen for the night awaiting her last feed, but I am confident she will be ready to meet her new friends in the field again tomorrow.

Till tomorrow….keep following!

The merits of children earning their pocket money

Posted on March 13th, 2011 -

Should you give your children money each week, at what age? how much? on what bais? What do they and don’t they have to pay for themsleves with it?

This is a a minefield of controversay which every parent will go through with their children at some stage. We all make our decsions based on very little guidance and a lot of peer presure from what others are doing. there is no right and wrong in this, we all just do what we feel is best. Would love to hear your views on the subject.

Just for the record ours get nothing without working for it. This may sound harsh but actually when you run a business like ours there are so many ways in which the children can help it actually makes it easy. Chores range from caring for the rabbits daily to manning reception, making kindling to sell and animal feed and of cause helping with changeover day stripping beds and putting on washing etc. As for how much, kindling starts at 25p per bundle they chop and tape up to £2.50 per week on the rabbits and up to the cleaners rates for cleaning a property to the full standard – only my eldest is up to this one and it takes him all day to clean a property as he is such a prefectionist – no good at all when we are busy! A day stripping the beds in summer and bagging up the laundry is £10. They are about age 10 before they can do this one.
What they are expected to buy with their money is also contentious, our eldest is saving to pay for a school skiing trip next year at £800 for which we have contributed £200. His friends apparently don’t need to pay for themselves so it is a bit unfair, but so is life and we feel he is gaining good experience and appreciation of money by working for this goal. He can make the target but will need to work his summer on the farm and cleaning. Om the other hand our 6 year olds are thrilled when they earn a £1 and head straight for the village shop to work out how many sweets they can afford. Fortunatley they are well known there and the staff are very patient when they try to buy too much or claim they thought their 10p was a £1 coin!