Trash 2 Treasure - September

September 6, 2015 at 10:50 PMCoombeMill

 

Back to School Stationery Pot Tutorial

With most parents of children aged four and over this will be the first week of the new school term.  We are back in two a school run, new uniforms, the excitement of a new class or even a new school and of course with all of this will follow the homework.  In an attempt to provide structure to homework and incentivise children I have come up with decorative stationery pot which is simple for children to make into their own chosen design.

 

Back to School Stationary Pot Stationary Pot

What you'll need

  • A reel of duck tape colours tape
  • Forestry ribbon
  • Notepad
  • Pens and pencils
  • An empty tin can

What You'll need stationary pots

Method

To make your Stationary Pot

  1. Thoroughly wash a used tin can, we used an old evaporated milk can which had an attractive gold inside.


  2. Cut a strip of duck tape colour the diameter of the tin can and wrap it around the tin with a centimetre overlapping the top


  3. Carefully fold the overlapping centimetre of tape in to the tin and stick down.


  4. Do the same at the bottom folding the centimetre spare underneath the tin.


  5. Now wrap a strip around the middle to fully cover your tin.
Stationary pots method

To make your colourful pens and pencils

  1. Take long thin strips of coloured floristry ribbon to coordinate with your pot.


  2. Attach the ribbon to a small rectangle of Duck Tape Colours.


  3. Starting at the tip of the pen attach the Duck Tape Colours.

  4. Wrap the ribbon around the pen towards the top.


  5. Secure the ribbon with another strip of Duck Tape Colours.


  6. Leave a few strands of floristry ribbon at the top for fun and curling these with the edge of a pair of scissors.
Decorated Pencils


Note: Keeping the duck tape to a good hand length at the base gives a secure grip on the pencil for little hands.

 

 

 

A few additions you could try

  1. We added a sheet of coloured paper to our pots with a homework timetable on it.  This could be as simple as a reading list to tick off or spellings to learn for the week.  Some little duck tape stickers are a great way to mark off progress.

  2. Instead of doing three wraps of Duck Tape Colours on your pot you could use floristry ribbon as the central colour to create a different texture or colour to your design.

  3. In activity Hour we cut strips of paper for the children to colour in with their own designs and writing for another way to fill in the centre section of the pots.

  4. Many of the children had been studying the Victorians last term in class.  They wrote in the younger years with slate and chalk progressing to a pen with a metal nib with ink when they were older, so we tried whittling some sticks and decorating them, then dipping them in paint to write to replicate writing back then.  You could also try this with a long feather.


Other ideas

Joining in with Trash 2 Treasure

If you have post about something you have made with something from nature or something you would have otherwise have thrown away please come and share on Trash 2 Treasure. The linky will run on the 1st Monday of every month and stay open for the full month. Post can take any form, all that matters is that the item made has been upcycled from something of little value or found in nature. Leaves and loo rolls, sticks and staples, there are so many throw away items which, with a little imagination can be turned into something of value. Most of my something from nothing craft tutorials will come from fun keepsakes we have made with the children in our farm activity hour but sometimes, I will share bigger upcycling projects from Farmer Nick too. I hope through the linky to acquire some new ideas and I welcome all posts old and new. 

 

A little extra from the awesome folk at Duck Tape Colours

  

Trash 2 Treasure sponsored by Duck Tape UK with Coombe Mill Holidays for creative fun.

 

Trash to Treasure is sponsored by Duck Tape Colours, makers of colourful tape to add pattern and sparkle to all your upcycling projects. Our favourite upcycling post each month will receive 3 colourful rolls of tape to inspire your next project. Do check out their website for plenty of creative ideas.

Congratulations to Sarah at Craft Invaders who is August's winner with upcycled Coombe Mill style sheep from corks and cocktail sticks. 

Other inspired posts this month were:

Shell crafts from A Patchwork Life and and a decoupage bookshelf from Farmer's Wife and Mummy

 

Use the hashtag #Trash2Treasure on twitter, instagram or Google Plus and I'll find you

If you link up I'll send you an invite to pin on my Trash 2 Treasure Pinterest board

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Please grab my badge and join me on my crafting journey.    

 

   

   

Country Kids from Coombe Mill

June 19, 2015 at 11:40 PMCoombeMill

Fairy Cakes and wizard's potion 

Here on the farm we had an active group of preschool age boys and girls staying all hoping for some childhood fun for Activity Hour. Thanks to commissioning our new mud kitchen in the week I had a plan forming that I knew would engage them all.

 

Fairy Cakes and Wizards Potion

 

We began as usual over at the craft tent where the children set to work making magic wands to their own design. We secured the ribbons with Clio's endless supply of old loom bands.

 

Making the Fairy Wands

 

I shared my new laminated recipes for the Mud kitchen for Fairy Cakes, Wizard's Potion and Goblin Gratin and the children were captivated, their imaginations racing.

 

Mud Kitchen Recipe Cards

 

They didn't need asking twice to choose a wizard or fairy outfit from our fancy dress collection and then armed with wands and empty containers we made our way across the farm to the mud kitchen filling our containers along the way with cooking ingredients from nature.

 

Collecting ingredients for the Mud Kitchen

 

I was delighted to stand back and watch as the children aged just two to six worked together making dinner for the fairies. There was much concentration, plenty of stirring and waving of wands as fairy cakes baked in the oven and potions boiled on the hob. Listening in on their conversations it was plain to see they were totally wrapped up in the task and loving this new space.

 

Making Mud Pies in the Mud Kitchen

Satisfied with the results the children carefully carried their meals over to the fairy garden discussing recipes as they walked.

Carrying the Fairies Food

Entering the gardens the children turned cakes out by Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs, fed them to our resident gnome and ladled potion and scattered meals around the edge of the pathways ready for the fairies to come down from the trees and out from the bushes.  All that remained was to wave wands and sound the wind chimes to alert the fairies that dinner was served.

 

Feeding the Fairies and Goblins

 

While we waited for the fairies to come Farmer Nick had another project waiting for us on the lower tier of the fairy garden.  The Coombe Mill bug house was taking shape but needed filling with bamboo lengths. Several of the older boys helped to stuff them inside. They were a little disappointed it wasn't instantly filled with creepy crawlies so I relocated our stone lady bird to sit on top for now. I'm sure it will be a thriving hotel in no time.

 

Filling up the Bug Hotel

 

It was an hour of enchanted childlike play stimulating imagination and creativity in the children with plenty of teamwork too. I can see both our Mud Kitchen and Bug Hotel having plenty of use over the summer season.

 

 

Joining in with Country Kids

If you have been enjoying the summer outdoors please come and join me here on the linky. Country Kids is for all outdoor family fun from garden play to fun days out. Please do grab the badge or link back here and remember to check out the other posts too, everyone loves a comment and you never know you might just find inspiration for your next outdoor 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 (no need for a hash tag in Pinterest)

 

Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays's board Country Kids  from Coombe Mill on Pinterest. 

 

 

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

 

A few of my favourites from last week:

 

The Eden project is a wonderful Cornish attraction, made even better by a visit from Mr Bloom as Our footprints on the world discovered. 

Scavenger Hunts are a great way to enjoy nature for kids, this simple colour one from Baby Routes means even toddlers can give it a go.

Shaun the sheep came to London and would keep you fit if you managed to spot him on every corner as Little Hearts, Big Love did.

If you like the idea of a fairy garden, why not try this miniature one with wildflowers as made by Mother's Little Steps  I've noted it for a future Activity Hour here.

St David's Cathedral is a popular visiting place for Diary of the Evans Crittens and reading their post it is easy to see why.

Life Unexpected enjoyed a day out at one of my favourite Cornish attractions for families with young children, Dairyland.  

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 

   

   

Mother Nature is a Curious Thing

April 19, 2015 at 11:00 PMCoombeMill

Learning the hard way

Here at Coombe Mill one of the favourite animals with all our guests is the rabbits. I have mentioned before the problems we have had this year with rabbits thanks to the local foxes and then disease and how disappointed our guests had been to see their numbers dwindle. Finally it all came good and we had beautifully bonny bunnies and healthy parents just in time for Easter.

 

Mother Nature Knows Best

 

All the children were delighted and were allowed to stroke and hold the rabbits on the daily feed run. We encourage the children to sit down or crouch low to hold them as when the bunnies wriggle the children are inclined to panic and let go! It does no harm if they are close to the ground and over straw but can kill them if they hit the concrete from a height.

I often run an activity hour session up at the rabbits where we go through rabbit husbandry, the only downside of this is that it falls at the end of the week just before the children leave so we do run through safe care of the rabbits on the first morning feed run too.

 

Activity Hour with the Rabbits

Once a rabbit feels safe and ready to breed there is no stopping them, hot on the heels of the first litter we had another by a different mother and both were competing for space in the hutch for their nest. The second Mum had mistakenly made her nest very close to the first, a parental squabble ensued and the new litter were all abandoned in days. I think it must be the same mother who fell pregnant again and keen not to repeat her mistake made her nest in the open section of the hutch well away from the growing bunnies. This was all acceptable in rabbit parenting but left them vulnerable to human fingers.

Rabbits growth stages

We ensured everyone was aware on the first feed run of the week that these babies must not be disturbed. However as we ran into changeover day in the Easter holidays and the older children arrived and began to roam unsupervised on their first afternoon there was trouble. I should have kept them all locked up for the day but it was such a beautiful sunny day it felt a shame not to let them out into their yard. One of our regular visitors ran up to me in reception quite concerned to say that someone was moving the babies from their mother. I was just showing in a group of newly arrived guests but Amber had just come back and followed the helpful young boy back to the rabbits straight away. It turns out the children had seen the mother sitting on the babies and in ignorance feared she was squashing them and moved her out the way and relocated the week old bunnies into an inaccessible hutch alone. In fact the mother was feeding her babies at the time. Amber quickly moved the babies back and tried to rebuild the nest as best she could; however having been disturbed and the scent of humans all over her babies it was unlikely she would take them back.

Hutches the rabbits couldn't reach 

We explained to the children the implications of their actions and that we understood they were worried for the rabbits but that they should never interfere with nature. The message was reiterated on the feed run to all the children and parents the following morning and then it was just a waiting game. The children were as good as gold at not interfering for the rest of the week but the baby bunnies were left just as we had feared; their nest abandoned and unkempt. One by one they began to die until there were just 2 remaining. In desperation I tried syringe feeding them with some of Rocky the goat's milk. They took this but I worried it would prolong a slow and painful death as there was no guarantee this contained the correct nutrient balance.

 

Syringe Feeding the Bunnies

 

Every cloud has a silver lining

On day two of feeding them I noticed the Mother of the larger bunnies come in and sniff my returned baby all over, lick away the milk I had given and allow the baby to huddled back in with her offspring. It looked as if the older baby bunnies had accepted their abandoned baby friends and with their scents all combined so the mother had taken them all in as hers!

Nature is a funny old thing but it is always best left alone if you are unsure.

 

Baby bunnies in their new nest

 

 

I hope we will have more baby bunnies throughout the spring and summer here on the farm, if you fancy a holiday with us and some careful bunny cuddles do check out our price and availability page.  

 

 photo 4d06e438-4e6a-4f3b-88b2-0c1093350397_zps361ad0e9.jpg     ANIMALTALES

Country Kids from Coombe Mill

April 17, 2015 at 11:40 PMCoombeMill

Easter holiday fun

Here on the farm we have enjoyed a wonderful Easter holidays full of children, fun and laughter, the weather has been mixed but we are always prepared and the fun carries on regardless.  

Crafty Fun and Games at Coombe Mill

Easter give such wonderful opportunities for crafting and games leaving us spoilt for choice at Activity Hour. After a reasonably dry week it poured with rain on Friday but we were prepared with Farmer Nick's new tent. We covered the new ping pong table with dust sheets and pulled up the benches Farmer Nick and Felix had finished making just that morning laying out our crafts as everyone scurried in out of the rain and wind.

 

Ready to begin Activity Hour in the new ping pong tent at Coombe Mill Family Holidays, Cornwall

 

I had spent my evenings the previous week working out how to turn a previous week's successful pig craft from a toilet roll into an Easter Bunny. Where there is a will there is a way and my bunny was formed together with Easter Bonnet where the bunny could hop down and rest in your pocket!

 

Demonstrating my Easter bonnet with jump down bunny at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays

 

The idea really appealed to the children and we wasted no time in handing out paper plates to work on our bonnets. The older children worked on the spiral cutting & ribbon pinning while the younger children settled for colouring their bonnets whole.

 

 

Decorating paper plates to make Easter bonnets. A Coombe Mill Holiday craft on the farm.

With bonnets decorated we began to make our bunnies. The children were great at cutting and bending to form the ears while I helped with feet and stapling to their hats, the finished results were a triumph of up cycling!

 

Making rabbits from toilet rolls craft at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Activity hour

 

After all that concentration we had a spot of fun with guess the real egg from the cracked egg in the tray with a chocolate mini egg for everyone selecting the whole egg.

 

Guess the whole Egg Game at Activity hour on the farm.

 

Those with the cracked eggs who lost out on the mini eggs were invited to bring their cracked egg over to lead an egg and spoon race. It was harder than you might imagine keeping the lightweight egg shell on a spoon and race but even the youngest children showed great skill and everyone ended up with a chocolate egg reward.  

Egg and Spoon Race

Back in the tent we shared some of the website letter forming worksheets for the younger children and farm word search for the older children as created for us in partnership with twinkl educational resources.   After a week on the farm all the children could easily place the lifecycle pictures for a hen in the correct order too.

Educational Teacher approved twinkle Worksheets at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays.

 

It was a wonderful use of a rainy afternoon on the farm whilst still benefiting from some fresh air and a lovely way for the children to spend their last afternoon together. The tent is conveniently located right next to the train station so there was no chance over running, everyone piled out to join Clio our driver as the train drew into the station and rain cleared just in time.  

 

 

Joining in with Country Kids

If you have been enjoying some outdoor fun over the holiday period please come and join me on the linky. All outdoor posts welcome from crafting to exploring. Time away from screens enjoying the wonders of nature and freedom of outdoor space is healthy and fun for all ages, even us parents! Please grab the badge and remember to check out some of the other posts here, it might just be the inspiration  behind 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 (no need for a hash tag in Pinterest)

Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays's board Country Kids  from Coombe Mill on Pinterest.

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

A few of my favourites from last week:

Lakes Single Mum popped in to visit us on the farm and wrote this fab post about her morning.

Grand Gardens and Stately Homes have been thoroughly explored this week by Mother Distracted and Little O and Me.

Would Like To Be, You Baby Me Mummy and Chez Mummy enjoyed nature in the sunshine.

Trying something new was on the agenda for Bubba Blue and Me, Stressy Mummy and Me, You and Magoo.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

   

   

Ranking Number 1 on Google

November 26, 2014 at 2:20 PMCoombeMill

 

The Holy Grail

This is what every business wants to achieve and I am proud and delighted beyond belief that Coombe Mill is currently Number 1 on Google for "Kids Farm Holidays". 

 

Kids Farm Holidays when searched shows Coombe Mill Family Holidays as Number 1 

 

I don't check any of my website or blog statistics very often as I think I could become obsessive about them. However every now and then I do like to ensure that I am on track.

The key statistic for me is where our holidays rank in Google or our Search Engine Optimisation level (SEO ranking). I try typing in specific wording and pull back to more and more generic searches to see how we do.

So for example if I were to type "Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays in Cornwall", "Coombe Mill Holidays Cornwall" or even just "Coombe Mill" I would expect to come up first. However, let's face it, anyone typing those searches in already knows about us and it just looking up our details to make a booking or follow up a recommendation to us; great in its own right but not a way for new potential holiday makers to find us.

If I now I broaden the search out to "Cornwall farm holidays with kids and animals" then it is much harder to come at the top as Google has many websites to choose from all using some or all of these key words on their websites. Featuring top here is where I get really excited, especially when Google says it searched 6.7m sites to bring Coombe Mill up first. Anyone searching this term is looking for a holiday that really matches what we offer; they probably haven't heard of Coombe Mill and are just seeing what is out there.  Being first on the list I am more likely to be clicked on and once on my website it is then up to me to sell the Coombe Mill dream in the first five seconds of glancing at my homepage.  If the homepage isn't attractive to my target market in an instant then I've wasted all my efforts in being at the top of Google and the discerning shopper will be back to Google and clicking on number two.  This is a huge subject in it's own right, for now I'm going to concentrate on Goggle Searches and assume my website does the job once there.

I try broadening the criteria again and hurrah I'm still number one for "Cornwall farm holidays with kids".

And again for "Farm holidays with kids" on a search of a whopping 156 million sites. This is a great result for me. 

 

 Coombe Mill Family Holidays as Number 1 search on Google

 

So how do I do it?

Content is key

First and foremost, make sure your website illustrates and says the most important things in the fewest words. Less is more. Set the tone visually on the homepage.  From here make sure posts are relevant, interesting and engaging. Know what your website or blog is for and write and illustrate to this.

For Coombe Mill the website tells the holidays facts while my blog within this takes a behind the scenes look at our family life running the business including the "oops" moments and success stories as they unfold.

Interaction & Social Media

Your posts can be genius but they need to reach out to an audience and be read, work out who your market is and connect with them, talk with them on forums or social media read and interact with their site and they will be sure to visit you too, oh and watch out you don't just get sucked in for hours here, it is easy to be sociable and chat too long, I'm guilty!

When I began my blog my target market for Coombe Mill was Mums and Dads with young children. Four years later I consider myself a fully fledged parent blogger myself with good friends I've met online and at blogging events, many of whom now holiday at Coombe Mill and have been kind enough to write about their visits. I now have a Pinterest Page just for Coombe Mill blog reviews.

 

Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays's board Holiday Reviews for Coombe Mill on Pinterest.

As for which social media sites to use, I'd recommend doing whichever you are most comfortable with, in essence they all work if you put in and don't just take out. By that I mean give feedback and support to others there, build friendships and they will most likely visit your site to find out who is behind the friendly words. My personal favourite is Twitter, I hang out here every day but also use Instagram, Google Plus, Facebook and Pinterest to a lesser extent most days. 

Keywords

Use keywords you want to be found for on Google in all web and blog site tags from the organic photo label on your pc or lap top right through to the content within a blog post. Focus on Key words in your headings where possible. For example every photo I save to my Website or Blog has a description for the photo and ends with "at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall". If I or anyone else then pins this photo on Pinterest this phrase will appear on it. 

 

saving a picture to the Coombe Mill blog

 

Relevant Links

Link within your site to past articles where relevant and to outside sources. There is much debate over the use of "follow" and "no follow" links. As a rough guide use a follow link in your own site and anywhere where the content of the linked site is directly relevant to your post. so for example I will always use a follow link to reference an article about Coombe Mill on another website or blog. Google likes links when they are genuine so use them and encourage them to your site too.

Where next for me?

I would be delighted to hold my position but you have to keep moving to stand still and if I am honest with myself standing still isn't really what I want. I need three of the following keywords to appear at the top or near the top on a goggle search.

Holidays, Cornwall, Farm or one from Kids, children, toddlers and Family,

By reducing to just two of these and searching my presence falls off a cliff,  I now want to work on some secondary keywords that might be used instead of these such as UK, England, Cottages, Lodges and Self Catering. I currently rank much lower searching by these alone. There is no magic, I will carry on doing what I do but perhaps tag, UK on the end of Cornwall in posts descriptions, and drop cottage or lodge into my posts and picture tags more often. January is the big booking month for me so I really want to hold my own and increase the odd search for then.

Know what you want your site to be ranked on and use these words carefully, by this I mean strategically without spamming your own site, Google can penalize you for over use of a key word.

A word of warning

SEO is great to be aware of but never let it govern your writing, relevant interesting content is key, SEO must fit around this and not drive it or posts can become contrived and dull. For me it is a once a month reality check at most to see what is working and on a day to day basis slots in rather like a spell check when I edit a post. If I can use a word I want to improve my search I will but I never force it.

I am not an SEO specialist

I am just sharing what has worked for me, if you are interested in what I've said here and would like to know more based on my own experience please let me know in the comments as I could happily expand on any of the areas I've touched on in this post. 

Enjoy your website and or blog, have passion in your writing, be mindful of SEO but don't let it rule your work. If all this seems like too much effort there are companies out that only to keen to do it for you at a price,  but watch who you choose, I am inundated with emails each day like the one below and would be very wary of dealing with them (click on the image to enlarge if you want to read the detail here):

 

Questionable SEO Services offered To Coombe Mill by email

 

I enjoy blogging and my daily social media interaction, it is part of my everyday life and the SEO benefits are a very handy spin off allowing me to invest the money I've saved elsewhere in Coombe Mill. To be successful it needs to be a passion you enjoy otherwise you may resent the time and energy it takes. 

 



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Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Coombe Mill

"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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