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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Rabbit care is my responsibility on the farm. My brother Theo used to look after them but he fell out with Mum and Dad about pay so I volunteered to take over. I must admit the work load is creeping up so I’m beginning to see where Theo was coming from.
Rabbit Care Duties
At first my duties were just feeding them, checking their water and locking them up each night. Now rabbit care involves cleaning them out too and being responsible for providing branches to nibble on, watching their behaviour and how they treat their young. I tell you, rabbits are not just the cute cuddly animals you might imagine!
We have a cage at the back for Roger our boy; he is supposed to have one doe in with him every now and again in the hope of babies. Recently that all went wrong as one of the babies from last year, that Dad had declared a girl, turned out to be a boy. I had my suspicions when I caught him doing….. well you know what….. with the other rabbits when I went to feed them that evening. I told Dad, and after a second inspection, he agreed it was a boy. Now we had 2 cages at the back with boys, they can’t go together or they would fight.
We were short of babies for spring so we didn’t worry too much about the undiscovered boy. However it soon became clear he had done his work when a litter appeared in the nesting box.
Over the next few days we watched the babies develop. I could tell who the mother was as she was often in feeding when I went to lock them up; all looked well. Then suddenly Dad went to open the rabbit house with the guests at the end of the feed run to find them all dead and shut the door again pretty quick! When I say dead, I mean half eaten and all over the rabbit house, it was like a scene from The Transporter. We don’t know why it happened, but Mum had this theory another more superior mother was also pregnant and due to give birth and wanted the nest for her own. Dad always laughs at her theories but I thought she might be onto something and set about making a second nesting place.
A genius idea
I took some old ply board from our Carnival float last year, cut a hole and nailed it to the back open storage area. I left a space at the top to add sawdust and look inside and then took another piece of wood from Dad’s shed, nailed some smaller pieces on to this and made a step ladder. Now if Mum was right 2 rabbits could have a litter in 2 different places.
I have seen rabbits coming and going to my new hide out but so far no one has made a nest in there. Mum’s theory about the massacre might have been right though as just a couple of days later there was another litter born in the original nest. These have continued to thrive, though we still can’t work out who the mother is. There always seems to be a different bunny on feeding duty.
They were just old enough to be handled by the Easter holidays and Mum took lots of photos of the children with them. I’m quite attached to them now, but I know Dad will soon be letting them go home with the guests and trying for some new babies.
Hello I am Guy one of the Coombe Mill children and I have a pet rat. My rat is called Francesca and she is special to me. I had a hamster called Bobby before Francesca but Bobby died of old age as hamsters don’t live very long they are also nocturnal and hard to play with during the day. Rats on the other hand are awake during daytime and in my experience more clever than hamsters as you can teach them tricks and they are very responsive. For example if I whistle and tap Francesca as cage she will come to that part of the cage knowing I have a food treat for her.
I first got into rats because my Brother Theo has one called Captain Sparkles. Just like any pet rats need looking after, I clean Francesca’s cage out every week adding new shredded paper as her bedding. I used the paper shredder from mum’s office to make her bedding. Every night I’d check she has clean water and feed her a small handful of rat food. I also like to give her a fresh food treat from the fridge; her favourites are lettuce and carrots. I never forget Francesca as I also have to put the Coombe Mill rabbits to bed and feed them too.
Rats are very sociable and like to come out to play, on a sunny day Theo and I like to have our pet rats out together in the garden. We sometimes give them a bath in a bowl of warm water, Captain quite likes this but Francesca doesn’t, they like to nibble on the grass, feel the fresh air around them and nuzzle each other.
One sunny Sunday Theo and I were playing with our rats on the grass when mum said it was warm enough to have our Sunday lunch outside, rather than put our rats away we thought they could play while we ate our roast dinner.
It was funny hearing Dad shout as one of the rats ran up his trouser leg or nibbled at a toe! I thought we knew where the rats were all the time, but after lunch Captain Sparkles was still under the table (he is very old now) but Francesca was nowhere to be seen. Mum excused me from clearing up while I looked for Francesca. As the afternoon went on she’s still hadn’t been found, all my brothers and sister were helping me by now. I was getting so worried and afraid for Francesca. We even shut Penguin our cat in the greenhouse in case she found her and was not so kind to her! I asked Mum to help me make some lost signs on the computer to put up around Coombe Mill as we had no idea how far Francesca might be by now.
I went off to run the train at 6.00 and still Francesca hadn’t been found. I stood up to introduce myself at the train and ask all of our guests to look out for her for me
Now I was getting really worried as it would soon be dark. Mum insisted we let Pengiun out and that worried me even more. I really thought I wouldn’t see my rat again. Then Theo heard a rustling behind the greenhouse and began to search in mum’s Rosemary bush, having a rat himself he thought it sounded just like the noise a rat might make moving through there, the next minute he came into the house holding Francesca high. I have never been so relieved and even gave Theo £5.00 of my pocket money in thanks.
Never again will I eat dinner in the garden without making sure Francesca is secure first. Having a pet is a responsibility and one to be taken seriously.
Guy wanted to create and share this post himself; I only helped with the spelling and grammar. I am not mad on rats myself but am delighted for the children who are keen to have them as pets as I welcome the responsibility it gives them.
Recently I have been helping Dad out with a few bits and bobs around the farm and in return he teaches me how to drive the tractor. This week for example I was helping Dad spread new bark chippings in the play areas. My driving is gradually improving and sometimes I am allowed to drive the tractor on my own and sometimes with Dad.
It was Sunday and I decided as I was awake in time that I would join the feed run. The children were all very young but they usually love to help Dad drive and I thought I would not get a turn. It was no surprise when Dad asked and a little boy put his hand up to drive. They weren’t very experienced so we doughnuted around the car park to the amusement of the parents before eventually Dad steered us towards the farm.
Clio was busy having fun in the chickens with the guests while Dad sent me back for a large screwdriver from his shed to make the boy piglets water go into a bigger trough as they were too stupid to work it out once Sally and her daughters had moved next door.
Then it was back to the tractor and Dad asked for a new volunteer to drive, Clio and I both said yes and rushed there, Dad said “it’s rare that Clio gets to drive, so she can have a go” I was very irritated because I had been helping Dad with his errands and missing the fun while she was catching chickens.
Clio looked very smug and drove the tractor all the way round the lake with Dad. I was unaware that Dad had something planned for me. I strolled off for a little doze in my favourite tree in protest.
Clio carried on with the guests feeding the other animals.
In my protest, I climbed down from my tree and headed over to the tractor, thinking that someone would volunteer to drive home and reserved a spot in the trailer but Dad asked if I wanted to drive. I thought this meant just on his knee as usual but he chucked me the keys, I slipped the gears into neutral, turned the engine on, moved into forward just as Dad had taught me and off I went! Mum was amazed and eager to capture me on video.
Dad asked me to stop by my bicycle so he could take over, but Clio ran ahead and took my bike home. I took this as the OK to follow with the tractor and trailer. You can just see Clio racing ahead in Mums video.
Mum was amazed at how I knew how to take the corners wide with the trailer on the back and how to start it up. I don’t think she knows how much I have been learning with Dad out on the farm.
The guests seemed very happy with my driving and came with Clio and me up to see the rabbits (I forgave Clio by now)
I hope Dad will let me drive the feed run trailer again. In fact may be one day I can run the entire feed run, though I will need to go into negotiation with Dad over my wages first!
This is an honest review on Girl Talk Magazine; I decided to write a review on the magazine because I enjoy reading all about the latest celebrity goss, (Mum wanted to make this gossip but I had to tell her that’s just not cool). I also wanted to share my opinion on the magazine because I love it so much.
Why I like Reading the Magazines
I like reading the magazines because they have fun quizzes, super helpful tips on fashion or even School homework, awesome celeb facts (Mum that’s celebrity to you), epic knowledge about world sport games, lots of facts about sporting stars, cool craft ideas for you to have a go at and amazing comics. There is usually a great giveaway with the magazine which I always use. So far I have received smelly lip balms and funky nail polish. I also like to read them simply because they take me away from life on the farm for a while and make me smile and aspire to what I may do when I am older.
Why I think it is good to read Girl talk magazines
I think reading Girl Talk is a great way to get young kids like myself to start reading, you might not be reading a book but you are still reading, and the main thing that really makes me want to read is if I enjoy what I am reading and I truly do love reading the magazines. Like I said in my last post about Girl Talk it is perfect for inspiring ambitions you hope to achieve. I think Girl Talk Magazine can really motivate you beyond becoming a singer or an actress because as long as you work hard at it you can become anything you want. I still want to be a writer but I also love to read about celebrities in my spare time.
I would definitely say that Girl Talk Magazine is THE BEST and gets a thumbs up from me.
Other Magazines you might enjoy
There are plenty more magazines out there, not just ones for my age group but younger children too. They can be expensive to buy but Mum has told me about a new website called KidsMagStore.com where you can order back issues of popular magazines like CBeebies Art, Bob the Builder, Peter Rabbit and Top of the Pops to name just a few. Here you can buy the recent past copies at greatly reduced prices. Mum has ordered some Girl Talk Art and Top of the Pops for me and Mega Magazine for my brothers as they are less keen on reading and she hopes this will encourage them. I hope you will take a look and have as much pleasure from reading magazines as I do.
Win £10 to spend on Kids Mag Store with Coombe Mill
If you fancy winning a voucher to the value of £10 for some of these great magazines just follow the instructions below, there is something for children from 18 months to 12 years old.
Mum received £10 of vouchers for Kids store Magazine for me to mention it here, however the content is all my own and I would have written about my love of Girl Talk Magazine anyway without the voucher. The kind people at Girl talk are extending my subscription for me by 4 months for which I am really grateful.
It’s a while since I did a post but I had a story I wanted to share. It is all about setting out to catch a rabbit and ending up with a squirrel! Okay so I need to explain this a bit.
We had lots of older children staying on the farm over half term which was great for me as they were more my age and had the freedom to explore the farm without their parents. They had a great time and are coming back again next year. Anyway while they were here there were a few problems. First of all one evening someone called 999 from our red phone box and the police came over. It wasn’t any of us and Dad was very cross, he had stern words with everyone on the tractor ride the next morning. I must say me and my brothers were rather disappointed with the police car, it was very ordinary looking inside but the police man had a taser which was pretty awesome and exciting. Anyway, that was only one incident, the other one was that Dad bought a new rabbit. The children playing up at the rabbits thought it was being bullied by the others and decided to let it out. Dad thinks it was actually the boy rabbit doing….well you know, what boy rabbits do to girl rabbits, but it was all too late the rabbit was out. We managed to catch it again and made a home for it in Dad’s shed as it had to be separated from the others in case of myxomatosis; this is a nasty disease wild rabbits can catch. We looked up the incubation period and saw that if we kept the rabbit separate for 7 days and there were no signs of sight loss and confusion she could return. However she escaped from Dad’s shed!
Dad made a trap which he set near the lake where she had gone and we all tried to catch her with a fishing net too but failed!
Not a total fail though as we caught a squirrel in our trap. I took it back to the house and Dad wanted to shoot it as there are so many on the farm and they eat all the animals’ food. It looked so pretty and harmless though Mum warned us not to get our fingers near or it would bite. Jed wanted to keep it as a pet but Mum was having none of it but we did agree to take it up to the woods behind our house and let it free before Dad came back with his gun!
Up through the pony field to our camp in the woods we went. We opened the trap door and he darted out quicker than anything. I think he had a lucky escape, Jed was still cross Mum wouldn’t let us keep him, but we were soon distracted by remaking our tree swing while we were there.
The rabbit was loose on the farm for over a week and managed to dodge the fox and all our attempts to catch her with a fishing net. She would peep out at us each day near the lake but run away so fast when we came too close.
Finally our missing rabbit fell for Dad’s trap with tempting food inside and was rescued on the morning tractor ride. She went back in Dad’s shed in a stronger house made from an old wooden cot dong her 7 days all over again. We were delighted to have her back and popped some fresh grass in whenever we passed.
Sadly on day 6 she died. Mum says it was probably all the stress of being moved, escaping being captured again, Dad thinks she probably caught something nasty while she was out. I’m not sure which is right but I will be making sure none of my friends are tempted to let any of the rabbits out over the summer holidays which are nearly here now. Rest in peace little baby rabbit, I will miss you.
I hope our squirrel has found himself a new home up in the woods and hasn’t been frightened by his capture too.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Emma and our 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.