Yesterday we had a great Wild time at Garsons Farm, a local Pick Your Own farm near to us. We all love going to Garsons and the kids get so excited about the fruit and veg they can pick – Jasmine (huge vegetable fan!) absolutely loves it as she gets lots of fresh veg, but even Thomas enjoys picking stuff for everyone else to eat (he’s not really a green veg fan!) I think its great as the fruit and veg always taste delicious, I feel much better knowing where it has come from and when it was picked, and in the years we have been going it has taught the kids loads about how their food is grown and given them a love of really fresh food. The farm has only recently opened for the season but already they have lots available. Unfortunately when we got there yesterday we saw several waterlogged fields and some of the crops have suffered due to the amount of rain we’ve had recently, however we still managed to get some carrots, courgettes, sugar snap peas, garden peas, broad beans, gooseberries and strawberries. The rain seems to have done wonders for the strawberries and they are the best I have seen for years! .. So good in fact that we ended up with four punnets full (over 2kg!)Today the kids have played outside almost all day. Jasmine and Ben have been tending to their bug zoo and discovering more creatures in our garden, and Thomas was blowing bubbles and playing with his radio control toy. We’ve also eaten a lot of strawberries! And this evening I have made strawberry jam with most of the remaining strawberries, leaving just enough for breakfast tomorrow.
Yesterday we went to Mayfield Lavender, an organic lavender farm really close to us. I wasn’t sure how much lavender would be flowering at the moment as it is still quite early in the season, so was pleasantly surprised when we arrived to see how much purple there was already. We parked in a local park and walked through the meadow and woodland to get there – it is a really nice walk – and then spent over an hour walking among the lavender. In order to keep the organic status of the lavender the owners of the farm use a great method to control the pest species, the Rosemary beetle.. they ask the local children to collect the beetles in jam jars and then reward them with a sweet! My three love collecting the beetles, spotting all the other insects and I always find we are much calmer after being there for any time. That wonderful smell! Yesterday we collected hundreds of beetles (so if you are local then please go and help out too!), we saw lots of cuckoo spit and froghoppers, a couple of grasshoppers and crickets, flies, bees, ladybirds, and bugs and beetles.
And today, as well as playing in the garden all the time we’ve been at home, we took a walk to our local ecology centre this afternoon and had, in Jasmine’s words, a brilliant time! On the way there Ben spotted a June Bug (Summer Chafer beetle) and whilst at the ecology centre we saw butterflies, moths, newts and slow worms galore, two toads, a couple of grasshoppers and plenty of small insects. The spot of the day was the largest Slow worm we think we’ve ever seen! It was easily over a foot long! Jasmine confidently picked it up and held it safely so we could all get a good look at it.. she is amazing that girl! She now, of course, wants to go back as soon as possible to look for it again and has told Gordon that, in future she is to be in charge of picking up the slow worms because she is better than him!
We’ve had a slightly more successful last four days.
On Tuesday (day 21) my mum came to stay for a few days and we took her to see the Peregrines. Day 22 saw the kids at Forest School and my mum and I went for a walk around Warren Farm and Nonsuch Park. It was very hot and muggy.. good weather for biting insects 😉 We also saw lots of lovely wild flowers, birds and bugs.
Later on in the day I spotted a Summer Chafer and a Lesser Stag Beetle and Gordon also seperately found a Summer Chafer in our garden. We also watched a most impressive thunderstorm just before we went to bed.
Day 23, Thursday.. a day we always struggle with due to activities. This week however we started out well and while we were eating breakfast we spotted three juvenile blackbirds in our garden with both parent birds. The blackbirds don’t always chose to visit us so it was lovely to see.
We also all managed to get some outdoors time at our HE Group. The kids spent a lot of time playing in a huge puddle left by the massive amount of rain we’d had the night before!
Day 24 (today). We met up with some HE friends and enjoyed a picnic at Nonsuch Park. It was a lovely day.. hot and sunny. Thomas had a mud fight with some of his friends, while Jasmine and Ben played and bug hunted. We saw a couple of crickets, a caterpillar and various small bugs. This evening we spent 45 minutes watching the juvenile peregrines practice their flying and hunting skills. It was amazing!
It’s been an odd few days. Lots of rain, poorly children, trying to fit too much stuff into the days. Gordon was working a lot last week and is working five days this week too. He is working a day shift and this has meant we simply don’t seem to have enough time in the day to get everything done. Something has had to give and unfortunately it has been our wild time. We have fitted some outdoor time into each day, but frequently it has been the same activities and just playing in the garden.
Day 15, Wednesday, saw the kids at Forest School and I went on Peregrine watch while they were there. As I was dropping them off we saw some caterpillars on the nettles.
Day 16 wasn’t a particularly good day. I really struggled to fit any nature time in at all and all we managed was playing outside at our regular Home Education Group.
Day 17.. I spent two hours in the morning on Peregrine watch again with one other volunteer. We saw all four juveniles flying well, which was really lovely to see. Gordon brought the kids along just before lunch and we all stayed for another half an hour before we needed to go to the shops and library.
Day 18, we had a busy day fitting in shopping and a local church fair and so again our wild time was a brief stint in the garden and some games at the church. We did also fit in 15 minutes Peregrine watching too.
Day 19, Sunday, was Father’s Day. I have to admit i was very disorganised this year and hadn’t really sorted anything out except going to Morden Hall Park for the “Solar Seekers” event they were hosting with Landsend Astronomers. They had Solar telescopes to safely view the sun during the day. I knew both Gordon and Thomas would enjoy this so we went early as the forecast was for it to get cloudier as the day went on. It was the right choice! We got some lovely views of the sun but when we went back after lunch it had clouded over. On the way home we stopped of at the station for some Peregrine watching. The birds were fairly quiet and so in between looking in their binoculars the kids did some good bug hunting!
And finally, day 20, today. It rained all morning and Jasmine is still full of a cold so we were quite limited with what to do. When it finally brightened up this afternoon we put on our wellies, grabbed our pac-a-macs (just in case!) and went on a “Penny hike”. I remember doing this as a child and when I explained it to the kids they liked the idea. So we took our coin and let it decide where we should walk! We managed a good hours walking and spotted flowers, bugs, butterflies and more along the way.
Day 13 of the 30 Days Wild challenge saw us watching the local Peregrine chicks again. I went up early in the morning for an hour before Gordon went to work and then I took the kids back up later on in the afternoon for a short time. They did all watch the birds briefly, but they spent more time digging in the dirt along the edge of the car park looking for woodlice!
We also bought some nature magazines to look through.
Day 14 has seen us, finally, getting out and doing something different! We went on an Alphabet Nature walk this morning with some friends. We walked from our friends house to local park/woodland and tried to find something for each letter of the alphabet. We did quite well and managed 24 letters, although some were rather random (buZZing for Z, quivering leaves for Q for instance!) but the kids really enjoyed it and spotted lots of things as we walked.
This evening while Jasmine was at Brownies I took the boys up to watch the Peregrines for 40 minutes. Two of the juveniles have done some, not quite successful, flying today and while one made it back to the top of the building, one is caught in pigeon netting and we’re not sure if it can get itself out. Fingers crossed for it tomorrow.
Its been a pretty quiet weekend here. But we have still managed to fit in some #wildtime each day.. although yesterday’s was slightly random!
On Friday and today I have spent some time helping the local Peregrine watch volunteers as we wait for the four chicks to fledge. Thomas joined me on Friday morning as well but Jasmine and Ben chose to have their wild time at home in the garden.
Friday didn’t see much action with the birds but one did fledge yesterday and then got stuck on a neighbouring building so I went back this morning to help keep watch. I also took the kids later on this afternoon and we were lucky enough to see both adults flying and one chick flapping on the edge of the roof.
Yesterdays wild time involved rain, and lots of it. We were walking over to the local carnival and got caught in a torrential downpour – the third this week but the first one we’ve been out in. The kids loved it! We had waterproof coats and wellies/walking boots on but even this wasn’t enough to keep us dry! We were soaked through but luckily it didn’t dampen the mood and we still had a good time at the fair once the rain had stopped.
Another Thursday and therefore another quick #wildtime activity required to fit into our busy day. This morning we went to our local park and took some photographs of nature. The children had an old iPhone each to take photos on and I just said they should take photos of things they liked. With such an open task, they did their best to take as many photographs as possible in the time available!
We have had a very busy wildlife based day today. We started this morning with a walk to a local green space to pick some elderflowers ready to make cordial later on. I wasn’t sure I was going to bother making cordial this year but the kids really enjoy picking the flowers and helping with the process of making the cordial, so even though most of them won’t drink it I decided to go ahead!
As we had five small ones this morning the elderflower picking didn’t take very long and we got loads! So we decided to look for a nearby geocache that we’ve not found before. After initially looking behind the wrong tree (!) once we got the right tree Gordon found it quite quickly.This afternoon the kids had forest school and Gordon and I took the opportunity to go for a walk around Nonsuch Park to see what wildlife we could find. We saw lots of bugs and beetles, and we heard several birds singing. My favourite spot of the afternoon however, was the dozens of Small Blue butterflies in the meadow just outside the park 🙂
Once we got back home we started making the elderflower cordial. The house smells so nice .. so flowery and summery! Just 36 hours to wait until we can strain the syrup and try the drink!
Today has been a day of two halves. This morning it was hot, sunny and a perfect time to be outdoors. We went to the garden centre to buy some mealworm for the Starlings and ended up picking up some Sweetcorn and Squash plants as well. The kids spent some time playing in the garden and then decided that their #30dayswild activity today would be to look at nature through a microscope. They have a handheld microscope each and they do enjoy taking them out and looking at different things. Today we studied pollen, petals, soil and a teeny, tiny aphid on a redcurrant leaf.
And then this afternoon we had torrential rain and thunder! Thomas and I stood outside listening to the thunder before it started raining, we spotted a frog climbing out of the pond, and then enjoyed the freshness of the rain as it started .. but we had to bid a hasty retreat indoors as the rain got heavier and heavier! Finally, by late afternoon the rain stopped and the sun came out again. The birds all came out of hiding and the garden feeders were very busy. Just before we had our dinner Jasmine spotted two Ring-necked Parakeets on the peanut feeder 🙂 We’ve only just started filling the peanuts again after squirrel-proofing it (hanging it from a very long wire!) so it is lovely to see some of the previous visitors returning 🙂
Day 6 saw us in the garden again. It has been another beautiful sunny day.. even hotter that yesterday I think .. so the kids have played out almost all day. This afternoon we all weeded the garden beds ready for planting some things out. We’ve had tomatoes and green beans in small pots for a while – the tomatoes were bought from the garden centre but the green beans have been grown from seed. We’ve been waiting for the weather to brighten up (and some free time at home!) so we could plant them out and so today seemed a good opportunity.
Jasmine and Ben got stuck in to the weeding and did a really good job, although there were a few moments when they disappeared to replant a particular weed in their bug house seed trays! Thomas did a little bit but he was also reading so it was a few minutes weeding, a few minutes reading!
Once the weeding was all done all 3 kids helped me plant out the tomatoes and green beans, and then with the pots we’d freed up they planted some sunflower seeds. We are rather late planting these but I’m hopeful they’ll still grow – just maybe not so tall!
And after all the hard work all three decided to spend some time in the tree!