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.
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We had watched our lovely alpaca Caramel be sheared at the start of the week. This is a once a year event and a bonus for our holiday guests if it falls on their stay. Colin our shearer has come to expect an audience at Coombe Mill and now talks everyone through what will happen and encourages the kids to come forward and watch. We finish with 2 big bags of alpaca fleece for Kay our local crafter. However I like to hold a little back for activity hour here. By the end of the week the kids had almost forgotten alpaca shearing at the start. But it soon came flooding back as I introduced our alpaca craft for the afternoon with the real fleece.
Alpaca craft formed in stages
I had a full house with 15 signed up to join us in making little alpaca. That left me with a few hours to work out how best to make them. I finished up with two designs split by age, a simple flat design for the under 3’s and a 3D Alpaca for the 3 and over. The first job was to search the fairy gardens for sticks to make legs.
These were poked into a toilet roll, a peg added for a neck and an egg box section tied on for the head.
The children were inpatient to move to the next step of sticking on the fleece but it took a while with so many to get everyone’s alpaca constructed. Finally we were ready and moved over to the grass where one by one I sprayed each with glue and the children stuck on the wool to transform their model into an alpaca.
An interactive alpaca quiz
When everyone had completed their alpaca we set them on one side to let the glue dry and the children gathered on the grass for a little fun quiz. I had researched some fun facts and made up some rubbish ones, the kids had to jump left or right depending on which answer they thought was correct. It was a great way to get a little learning in and I’ll use this idea again. We explored alpaca history, habitat and sociology finishing with what they like to eat.
Creating alpaca homes
Armed with their new knowledge the kids were ready to make a home for their alpaca with all their favourite things to eat.
The children were deservedly proud of their finished alpaca in their homes, though I felt sorry for the parents trying to pack them safely into card to go home the next day!
Elmer the Elephant Alpaca
With creative minds still running I left the children colouring alpaca that reminded me of Elmer the Elephant!
I think I may have created the most knowledgeable 2 – 8 year olds on alpaca in the country! The best part was that they loved every minute and never knew they were learning at all.
Activity hour fell on the most beautiful day and I had wondered it all the families staying might just have headed to the beach forgetting to come back and join me. I needn’t have worried; there was a steady gathering of little ones eager to discover pond life with me.
As everyone gathered I explained all the things we were going to do, beginning with a little frog explanation. Our farm path had been overrun with froglets that had fascinated the children, and so exploring the frog life cycle seemed a good starting point.
Next we had a look in our ‘where animals live’ book for photos of animals and creatures we might see around the pond.
With pond life identification sheets, fishing nets and magnifying glasses we headed over to the top lake on the farm. There is a little slipway there with easy access to the lake and the children cast their nets in to see what they could find.
I had a large tub prefiled with lake water at the ready and we added any catches to this from our nets. From the safety of the slipway the children could peer into the tub and study the pond life inside. We could see water boatmen and smaller creatures darting across the tub.
Damselflies were all around us with their vivid blue bodies hovering over the water and sunning themselves on leaves and rocks.
When everyone had tired of seeing the activity on the water we began to fill our collecting trays with nature around the lake. Only foxgloves were off limits as they are poisonous to eat and little ones have a habit of putting fingers in their mouths. These were the prettiest flowers around the pond but we found plenty more things to fill our tubs.
Back over the river I taped a giant piece of plain wallpaper to the path and asked the children to re create the lake and it’s surrounding using the paints and the nature they had collected. Even though the ages went from under 2 to 7 everyone joined in and creativity flowed.
I was so delighted with the finished result I tried for a team photo before hanging it in our games room.
It was certainly a creative way to explore pond life and a perfect introduction for the children.
In mid July when the buddleias are at their peak, the butterflies flock around the farm. We have the most beautiful bush up behind our Pencarrow lodge with a perfume so sweet and distinctive. An unappreciative Farmer Nick was about to chop it down as it isn’t so easy to mow around, but I was up in arms as the butterflies adore it and I had plans for our activity hour around the scented bush. Thankfully I won, the bush remained and we had a beautiful afternoon butterfly hunting there for the Big Butterfly Count.
Butterfly Watch for The Big butterfly Count
We talked about how shy butterflies can be and the need to creep up to the bushes to spot the different varieties. We had been on stealth patrol earlier in the day and taken photos of all the different butterfly types landing on the Buddleia and surrounding ground. These were complied in a table with labels for the children to tick off when they saw them. The children did a great job on all but being very quiet and managed to spot them all. I was slightly concerned about the lack of Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Red Admiral this year, though there were lots of Silver-washed Argynnis Paphia which I’d not seen in the past and the Common Blue and Small White are reappearing in numbers again.
Butterflies spotted, the children were keen to see what crafts I had planned for them. I wanted to vary things from our butterfly studies in previous years and came up with something quite original. We began by making caterpillars from card circles and pine cones joined with paper clips and wool.
The really fun part was painting them. I’d brought out the spray paints to let everyone make their caterpillars unique with splatter colour.
Butterflies on boards
While the caterpillars dried in the afternoon sun we turned our attention to butterfly boards. My big bag of material scraps was used to create colourful butterflies. Simple rounds or rectangles were pinched in the middle and stapled onto cardboard. A felt pen completed the butterfly bodies and antenna. The results were quick and impressive which was perfect for the time we had.
It was a lovely way to look at butterfly varieties, talk about their lifespan, habitat and create our own crafty butterfly varieties. If you fancy joining in The Big Butterfly Count it is running till 20th August and there are some great downloadable identification sheets. I wish I’d checked this out before making my own!
So what to do with a group of preschoolers at the end of a week on holiday in the heat wave? The group was boy heavy and I knew crafts in the sun weren’t going to excite them. They needed to be active and somewhere cool. I knew just the place where we could light a campfire, make and sail bark rafts and be at one with nature.
I prepared a back pack with everything we would need and we headed off to the farm to follow the Welly Walk Trail.
A walk is always more fun with a little challenge. In this case the children were looking out for a tree with loose bark, a twig and a large leaf to make little sailing rafts. I have to say credit for the idea goes to an Instagram photo from Louise George.
The children hung onto their raft pieces as they came through the bamboo tunnel out into the open clearing at the end of the welly walk.
Here we assembled our rafts and floated them in the stream under the shade of the trees. It is such a beautiful cool place to be on a hot day.
Many faces of an old oak tree
Next we made nature faces on the tree with pieces of air dry clay as the base. Sticks, moss, acorn shells and leaves gave the faces their unique features.
The children settled to a little colouring of our lovely picnic blanket and bag while we lit the campfire. I must say in all the time I’ve been making campfires this was by far the easiest thanks to the long dry spell we had been enjoying.
The sight of the marshmallow packet soon had pens being dropped and children crowding round. There is nothing quite like a campfire to spark imagination. One little one told me as he left this was the highlight of his week!
Country Kids is the original outdoor family fun linky designed to:
“Encourage family fun outdoors, in an age where technology and screens are such a draw to a sedentary indoor life”
Welcome back if you are a regular to Country Kids and if you are new please join in. You will find plenty of inspiration for enjoying outdoor space and please do share your own adventures. We support the National Trust #50 things along with all other ideas for family fun outside.
Country Kids moves on from Coombe Mill!
I am handing over Country Kids this week after nearly 7 years. It has been a wonderful journey and while I am still passionate about outdoor fun, my own children are barely children anymore. Please do come and join me for the last link up at Coombe Mill. From next week I’m thrilled to say Louise from Little Hearts Big Love will take over initially sharing with Helena from Queen of Collage and Lucy from Kids of the Wild over the coming weeks. I will still be posting up all the fun of the farm here on the blog and linking to Country Kids with the new team. I am sad to hand my baby over, but with growing kids and farm demands I need to bow out from hosting.
Guidelines for Joining in:
Post must be predominantly outdoors such as in the garden, the park, the woods or the beach with crafting, learning, exploring or playing.
Despite the title, both countryside and urban outdoor adventures are welcome.
Unheated covered areas like a barn or tent count as outdoors.
Please comment on my host post and a minimum of 3 others of your choice.
If you use #CountryKids when commenting the post owner will know where your found them and hopefully come back to visit your post.
Please take my badge, without it you won’t be considered for winning the lovely Rockfish Wellies.
Linked posts should be written and made live within the last 2 months.
I understand sometimes you need to do catch up posts and write about something from a couple of months ago but the publish date should be within 2 months.
There is no restriction on the number of posts that can be linked up, however please be sensible, if you have more than 3 consider linking over a few weeks.
Thanks to all of you who joined in last week and for the comments you took time to leave, we had a week with just 1 link dumper.
Rockfish kindly sponsor Country Kids
I am delighted to have had Rockfish as the sponsor for Country Kids. Rockfish are a local Cornish company specializing in stylish quality 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, have been 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. I want to say a huge heartfelt thanks to Rockfish for supporting CoutnryKids and Coombe Mill Holidays over the years.
For more more information on the Rockfish Wellies on offer with us and terms and conditions to win see here.
Posts in with a chance of winning the July Rockfish Wellies
I love the look of Drucillias, a childhood favourite place for my own children from Autumn’s Mummy
I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Red Arrows in real life, but they look spectacular over Weston Super Mare as seen by Pixie Dusk
I will keep #countrykidsfun running for now linking into the new team so please keep your tags coming.
I’ll like and comment on all and share my favourites from the week with a tag on a Friday on Instagram and Twitter. We now have more than 10,500 posts with outdoor fun in this community which I find really exciting. Thank you to all who join in.
“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.