As regular readers know, we recently visited Howbeck Lodge Farm as guests of Feather Down Farms. So far, I have written about the exceptional accommodation and facilities, local attraction the World of Beatrix Potter, and the joys of the farm itself. I couldn’t review the weekend without a special mention of the fact that glamping rocks, especially at Feather Down Farms, and especially for children.
The reason I agreed to review Feather Down Farm was because I knew that it was likely to be a wonderful experience for the children, one that I felt they would remember for a long time. I was not disappointed. As a teacher and as a parent, I know the importance of taking the learning outside once in a while. That’s why most schools fund trips for pupils, as they know that the experience and enrichment that comes from visiting a new place is more than worth the investment. Visiting Feather Down Farms is one such experience.
From the minute you arrive, you are in a different world. The preschooler’s first question once inside the tent was: “Where’s the TV?” and then he did not mention it again. You really have no choice but to switch off and succumb to farm life. And because you are there, on the farm, with no electricity and no distractions, you are giving your child a once in a lifetime experience. The preschooler loved the farm week we did at home, but nothing compares to a real working farm. We’ve visited open farms before but the price that you pay and the length of time you’re allowed to stay never really match up. Plus, you may be able to feed a lamb whilst you’re there but you’re only one amongst a crowd and there is no special treatment. It’s so different at Feather Down Farms! Farmer John was our personal guide and he made sure that the children got the most from their visit. For the preschooler, this meant a multitude of learning opportunities:
- Life cycles and habitats. We narrowly missed the birth of one of the last lambs to arrive at the farm. In the end, we were glad to have missed it as Farmer John sadly told us that the lamb in question had not made it. This, whilst being very sad, gave us the opportunity to talk to the Big One about life cycles. For the preschooler (who happily missed the sad news) we were able to talk to him about mummy sheep having lambs in her tummy. The preschooler was also able to see first hand how animals live and we talked about the different things they need to keep alive and well.
- Caring for animals. The preschooler was delighted to be able to watch the feeding of the lambs and goats, and he also- eventually- fed some baby goats himself. This was not a one-off, queue with lots of other children event. The kids actually got to feed the animals several times during our stay and each time brought lots and lots of smiles. The preschooler also helped Farmer John to feed the sheep and to check on the animals to make sure they were safe and well. We talked about taking care of animals and we petted the farm’s pet rabbit too. All fantastic experiences for children.
- Taking the learning outside- counting. We are always learning. We are always counting. When we visited the Highland cows the preschooler counted them. He counted the sheep. He counted the eggs we collected. He counted the lambs. He counted the goats. He counted how many steps he could make across the stream. He counted how many pennies we needed to buy sweets from the shop.
- Social skills. Nothing pleased me more than to see the children climb up on a pile of logs with the other children on the farm and engage with them. They chatted, they laughed and they played. The relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the farm clearly rubbed off on them as they made friends easily and enjoyed each other’s company too.
- Problem solving. The children were desperate all weekend to go fishing in the stream. They bought their nets and they set off, over the rocks and through the shallow water. And how could they get across? Which rocks were safe to step on? Which parts of the stream were too deep for the preschooler? Of course, I did not leave them alone in the stream but I did let them make their own decisions as they negotiated the water.
I could go on and on. Each and every aspect of the farm experience was invaluable to the children. New sights, sounds and smells also provided new stimulation for the baby too. Putting all of the farm stuff to one side, a holiday with Feather Down Farms offers new experiences in other ways too.
- Glamping. A new term for the children and a new concept for us all. The Big One in particular loved being given the chance to help Ghostwriterdaddy with the log burning stove. The preschooler loved being able to play outside whenever he liked and we all enjoyed the fact that the children were able to come in and out of the tent safely as much as they pleased.
- No electricity. It was actually lovely. The children loved watching the sun go down and the candles being lit. We all enjoyed a break from the gogglebox too!
- The great outdoors. It’s well documented that being outside in the fresh air is good for children and there can be no denying that the children were happy doing this at the farm. As a parent, I loved seeing them outside in the great outdoors!
- A sensory experience. Especially for the baby. New sights, sounds, smells, textures. New adventures.
If you’re thinking of taking your children to one of the Feather Down Farms farm, I cannot recommend it highly enough. A holiday on one of the farms is an invaluable learning experience for all children, especially preschoolers, and one that the whole family will remember forever. We absolutely loved our weekend away and we would return again in an instant. A huge HUGE thumbs up from us!
We were given a weekend at Howbeck Lodge Farm courtesy of Feather Down Farms for review purposes only. All opinions are my own!