Coombes farm is set in a truly a beautiful location nestling at the foot of the South Downs in the heart of Sussex. This weekend the sun was shining but there was a bit of a cold wind on the beach so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to head inland.
When we arrived at the farm the first barn we came to contained cows and little calves jostling each other out of the way to get access to mums milk. The children were instantly entranced; it was a magical sight. As we walked on we were delighted to find a pen of piglets sunning themselves beside the tractor stop. They were snuffly podgy pink bundles with cute muddy noses and I found myself wondering how on earth something so absolutely adorable can turn into such a huge smelly beast. I am also reminded of one of my favourite children’s books, the peppermint pig by Nina Bawden.
You are reminded when you encounter the lambing barn that this is a working farm, what you see is certainly not sugar coated, it is a raw, earthy experience; prepare to witness ewes staggering about with afterbirth swinging from their rear quarters; in one pen I witnessed one eating her placenta. Yum. Daughter asked me “what is she eating?” “Pigs will eat anything” my husband replied. Yep, I remember this topic coming up at pro painful birthing classes. I wasn’t impressed then and anyway I’m a veggie. If I’m that hungry, I said to the earth mother trying to brainwash us against pain relief, I’ll order myself in a pizza.
The lambs are absolute cuteness on little spindly pogo sticks, I thought I could have got away with it I would have popped one in my handbag to take home. The kids loved getting into the pens to give them a cuddle and at various times during the day the staff get kids to help with bottle feeding the greedy little guzzlers.
Next up it was the tractor ride, the farmer and his wife take turns driving the tractor pulling a trailer piled with hay bales for seats. We were also given an interesting little talk about the farm before we took off delivered by the weather beaten rosey faced farmer himself.
This ride is a lot more then your average bone shaker lap around a field, I’ve done a few in my time with the rugrats but this really was quite beautiful. The ride is half an hour long, the tractor takes you right to the top of the downs and the view is spectacular looking down the valley towards Lancing College with the sea beyond sparkling in the distance. But the wind can be biting up there; as long as you are prepared it’s fine and well worth it.
Another tip would be to take your own picnic, they sell hot drinks in the barn but that’s about it, there was also a trailer selling burgers and sandwiches, but the queue seemed a bit slow.
We sat and ate our food in the field by the old church, a beautiful spot, scattered with spring flowers, there is also a perfect tree for the kids to scramble over. It really is an idyllic spot.
This visit really feels like it has kick started spring for me, it was great fun and the kids really enjoyed it, there is something for everyone and I think our kids learnt a lot. One overwhelming feeling for me throughout the visit though was a relief that I am a veggie. My visit was entirely guilt free…