Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Farming, Flora, and Pirates of the Caribbean...

Following on from a gloriously sunny and fabulous Teignbridge and Torbay Home-Ed group meeting at Cockington yesterday, today we headed out with another group of home-edders to Dart Raffe Farm.

I was a little apprehensive about the drive there.  I don't have a very good relationship with country lanes.  Years of horse-riding around villages led to me being witness to many loony drivers and accidents.  Touch wood, I haven't had an accident yet, but I still get very nervous when the roads get narrower and the corners are blind. *shudder*

Fortunately, we got there, on time (we were all out of the house with lunches packed by 9am!), with no issues - yay for me!  I'm so glad we went, it was well worth travelling the distance.

Upon arrival we got taken to see the Llamas.  Although not owned by the farmer (really lovely chap named Gerald with an equally lovely and welcoming wife), we were told about their wool and uses.  They were kept next to a field of equines.  And gorgeous equines they were too - wanna see?


Shetland companion pony


Did I mention the farm had the first ever 3 headed Llama? *grin*

3 headed Llama

We then went for a wander down the lane and talked about the wild flowers.  Very interesting and I learnt a huge amount.  I really do want to learn more about nature, I know so little!  Gerald talked about identification and really engaged the children.

Mouse Ears
Mouse Ears!


Shepherds Purse
Examining the Shepherd's Purse

We were taken to see the Rape Seed crop, and talked about the uses of its oil.  Each child had a pod to open...

Rape Seed Pod

Then we talked about the Winter Wheat...

Winter Wheat

Fields of wheat and view beyond
What a fabulous classroom!
and witnessed damage by Hares...

Hare Damage

As well as discovering a very ancient scarecrow...

Ancient Scarecrow

We walked on to the lake, where Gerald talked about creating it and it's fish stocks.  Isn't this just beautiful?!

The Lake

All the time as we were walking around, we were being told about the various plants and trees, including the history of trees such as the Horse Chestnut and Oak. It really was eye-opening to see just how much flora there were in the hedgerows, so much I would have missed if I had been alone.

We talked about sheep, their breeding, fleece and meat, whilst watching the mothers with their lambs...


Then we settled on the island in the lake for our picnic lunch.

Picnic on the Island
(identity protected of those that I didn't have permission to blog)
What an absolutely perfect setting.  I could fully imagine whiling away many a happy hour there,  it is a story writers dream!  I could clearly envisage ol' Enid Blyton sat with pen and paper in hand, imagination running wild with new adventures for the Famous Five or the Faraway Tree lot.

One thought that kept buzzing around in my head as we walked was what an amazing childhood the farmer's children must have had.  All around the farm there is evidence of outdoor fun and games - a treehouse in one of the fields, a swing rope tied to a tree in the lane, sheep bones hung to "warn off visitors" from a private hideout where they didn't want to be disturbed.  How I wish my own children could have such a free childhood, spending their days amongst the flora and fauna, and clearly enjoying to the fullest the outdoors.  One day.  One day.

Back to reality.

Whilst I was ambling away the minutes thinking about perfect homes, dreams, and the imagination such an ambience could invoke, what were the kiddies doing?  Acting out Pirates of the Caribbean of course!


Sword fighting on the bridge

They had a lot of fun.  I had a lot of heartstopping "You're too close to the waters edge!" moments.

They all stayed dry.



  1. Looks like you all had a lovely day out! My boys do that too with sticks whenever they find them and I too hold my breath and wait! Love the idea of Enid Blyton writing her famous five stories there too. Maybe I should visit and start my book??
    Zoe x

  2. Anonymous9:44 pm

    Brilliant post Jules, I love the photo of that 3 headed Llama x