I think its safe to say that by buying eco-friendly and biodegradable toys for our children and grandchildren we're not going to save our planet, however, every little does help and it's a start. If you're anything like me you are trying to cut down on plastic use around the house (and farm in our case), the kids toys are no exception. It seems, as they get old the toys get more plastic!!!
My new thinking is that we invest in toys rather than buy quick throw away plastic toys, by doing this I am not only making myself feel better, but also going some way to educating my children about our throw away culture and how it needs to change.
I've been looking around and I have drawn up a little list of my favourite eco-friendly and biodegradable toys. I was pleasantly surprised how many there were, then sadden by the fact that you rarely see them on the high street.
So here goes, in no particular order:
1. Green Toys Tractor with Detachable Trailer
Available in pink (harder to find though) and orange this toy tractor and trailer is super cute and made entirely from recycled materials. Even better, its dishwasher safe too!
2. Eugy Dodoland - 3D Unicorn model craft set
You can build your own unique 3D craft collectable animal (i've chosen the unicorn, because my daughter is obsessed). They are made from environmentally friendly, biodegradable card and printed with natural eco-friendly ink, which is why they made my list, Plus creating this will keep the kids quiet for a while!!
3. Kid-Eco Cardboard Large Castle Playhouse Kit
Be the King or Queen of your own castle! This play castle comes in a range of colours and is big enough for the kids to play in, they can paint it, stick things to it and really personalise it. Made with 80% recycled materials and is fully biodegradable this is a no brainer for summer fun in the garden.
4. Little Book For Big Change
Not technically a toy, but I know that kids do love books, especially activity books. Packed with over 100 puzzles, games, craft activities, experiments and tips for children aged 7+,Little Book for Big Changes offers fun, educational and creative ways to bring people together to help change the world, empowering them to protect the environment and to make the world fairer. Includes tips on how to recycle and reduce plastic waste.
5. Honeysticks 100% Beeswax Crayons
NATURAL GOODNESS - Honeysticks beeswax crayons are handmade with 100% pure New Zealand beeswax (if you can find a British alternative please let me know). They are safe for kids and children ages 3+. Contains no paraffin wax or cheap fillers. They have different shapes depending on the age of your kid and they smell amazing.
6. ALEX Toys - Eco Crafts
A craft box is always popular in our house and this one is brilliant. 20 crafts to make and all made our of recycled materials and soy inks. This set includes puppets, animals and jewellery.
7. Bunch O Balloons
Who doesn't like a water bomb fight? These water bombs are quick filling and seal themselves, but what makes them extra special is that they are biodegradable and recyclable. Let the fun begin.
8. Junko Zoomer
Build toys that zoom from junk! This is great, it can be used time and time again and is kind to our planet as its made from recycled plastic and a good use of household rubbish.
Whats more, this really feeds the kids imagination. I totally get why it features in the good toy guide.
9. 4M Eco-Engineering Rubbish Cart Robot Toy
First off this is a construction kit so the kids can get stuck into building this robot first. The idea is to educate the children about staying clean and green. It maybe made of plastic, but the concept behind this is to learn about what can be recycled and whats green.
10. Bamboo Tooth Brushes
I know, I know, these do not pass as toys either, however, the novelty value (although eco-friendly) might just make teeth brushing time a little bit more fun. Completely natural and biodegradable these are fun, hygienic and antibacterial. Cleverly coloured coded so the family can't mix up brushes!!
There are loads more toys out there that could have been featured on this list. It's great to see more being done to entertain kids with things other than quickly disposed plastic rubbish. So all i can end on is: "Stop buying your kids plastic cr*p"
Keeping our next generation of farmers safe is so important
Over these school holidays, I have really been thinking about how safely we farm...
The opportunities on a farm are wonderful for our children and their friends to develop an vital understanding of work and day to day responsibilities. Farming has been seen as a family led industry for years with skills being passed down from generation to generation, However this trend is slowly changing.
People from many backgrounds are now trying their hand at farming and living off the land, this may be city folk or people from other countries looking for a better way to live and bring up their families. There is no doubt they bring some new and varied skills to the industry, but also with that comes the lack of common sense that is in gained from being brought up in such an environment. This is where 'The Yellow Wellies Farm Campaign' comes into its own - The Farm Safety Foundation are committed to spread awareness about safety on the farm for all to be able to implement and understand.
Farming is a notoriously dangerous career, so many factors can cause injury or worse, as an industry, safety should be focused on more than anything else, even money.
So how do I go about keeping my children safe on our farm when they love being amongst it so much:
Children play a massive role on a working farm, they are keeping a tradition alive, but what's more important is keeping them safe at all times. Being a mummy on the farm with my precious little ones treating the yard like a playground scares the hell out of me, so my husband and I sat down and put some simply safety steps in place.
Firstly, I'm not suggesting children shouldn't be on the farm, they 100% should ,but what I try and do is teach them not only about the farm, but also the dangerous each aspect of the farm can have, it's all about knowing the risks, children are a completely different kettle of fish to the 'grown ups' when understanding dangers.
We moved into the farm a week before my first child was born, so we have only ever had children around on the farm really. My proud husband would regularly strap him to the front of him in his overalls and take him to see the cows and have a sit on the tractor. I feel the real safety threat is not at this new born stage it's when the child becomes mobile and there is no stopping them and you need eyes in the back of your head.
So a year on, I had a toddler running around and I was pregnant with our second child, because I thought I wasn't nearly busy enough!!! However, here is where my safety game steps up. With two little ones under 2, I couldn't just focus on one child. I had to start thinking outside the box so they could cherish their time on the farm, whilst being safe.
Long gone are the days of the children not wearing helmets when they come on the quad bike and just being chucked in the pickup whilst you pop up the yard. I got slated once on social media for a photo of my daughter sat on my lap in the combine, I would have accepted a discussion, but not a slating. You see, if we talk to each other we learn and from learning we can all become safe, one free tip could save a precious life, I didn't sit her on my lap because I wanted to put her at risk, I did it because I thought she was safer with me in the cab then anywhere else, here starts the different opinions being aired.
Learning from previous mistakes is a great way to get safety implemented, I hold my hands up, my children have shut their fingers in tractor cab doors, fallen off bales and played in stuff they really shouldn't have, but these things were our flags to change something, we now look at what we are doing and dangers surrounding it. I live by, we are only human and even the most conscientious can make mistakes.
We still take our children on the tractors and they still help out with the animals, however, they are always wearing hi-visibility vests so they can be seen (I even have spares for their friends), we have signs up and we are open with them about the dangers, my son often tells his friends that a tractor can squash you, you mustn't go by the wheels.
What we do safety wise on the farm will change as the children get older, as they will want more responsibility and with that more often than not comes more danger.
The biggest and by far the best way to keep children safe is by keeping your attention on them, get off the mobile and check their surroundings and make sure they are in your sights at all times. We all have that one child who wants to push the boundaries and go on their own adventure, yes I agree it's good for them to explore, but NOT around the farm. Something else that should not be overlooked is the storage of dangerous chemicals and vets drugs, ours are well and truly locked away not only out of reach, but also out of sight of the children.
Lastly, burning the candle at both ends can be a huge factor in farm accidents, a tiny second of lapse of concentration due to tiredness can prove fatal. Throughout the farming year there will be times when sleep is a forgotten thing and you will be tired, just take stock and think about the implications it could have, snatch a 30 minute power nap or ask for help with children, once again, you are only human! Farming is a great and rewarding industry, let's just do it safely, farmers are not indestructible, even if they think they are!
The above is all from my experience on our farm , it is by no means legal. For more H&S legal information please visit www.yellowwellies.org
Stay safe. x
I'm just about to embark on a trip of a lifetime to the mountains of Oman, it's no holiday though, I am trekking in aid of breast cancer charity Coppafeel! This all being very worthy and it is an amazing charity, I can't help but be racked with guilt.
This solo adventure marks the part in my life that needs something more, something for myself and something to allow me to help others outside our strong and loving family unit. Selfish, yes you may think, but I think this will really ignite an aspect of lives we maybe missing.
I need to remember I am not only leaving behind my truly super husband and my wonderful children, I am also leaving my home, the farm and all the day to day mundane jobs I have to do... here's hoping on my return a new found respect has been established for my role in our family - general dogsbody, a target for food, a washing Trojan, a cooking machine and so on.
Would you leave your children for a week to go on a solo mission?
Here are my thoughts:
As a very lucky mummy I know how emotional this will be for both my children and I (this is the longest I have ever left them), however I do feel that my children will become more resilient with me as their Mummy more fulfilled in other areas of my life, as youngsters they will be more secure and well adjusted to change. I know there are mum's out there that would sacrifice every part of their life for their child's 'well being' but from my point of view this may do more harm than good in the long run. If my children have a healthy attachment to me they will gain trust and will use me as a security blanket to go on adventures themselves. My children know I will be returning and knowing this, they confirm that all important trust, in turn providing them with an invaluable healthy sense of self. These are my views and know some of you wont agree, but a child petrified of leaving their mummy's side will only become insecurely attached, and not ever being apart from their mummy they will find it harder to develop the feeling of trust and solid security in their future lives and relationships.
Don't get me wrong, I am going to hate leaving them and will miss them like crazy, moreover, I know they are in good hands and this will do our whole family unit the world of going in the future. So if you are a mummy (or daddy) that still needs or yearns adventure in their lives, do it, you have my vote and like me, I hope you can have a somewhat guilt free travelling experience. Bring on Oman.
To follow my trekking challenge in Oman follow Coppafeel! on Facebook.
children dressed by : Piccalilly
After being sat in the house on my own (with the kids) for the 6th consecutive night running I felt compelled to write this short blog. Our farm is a mere 206 acres, so I really feel for all of you have much large holdings.
When it comes to drilling, you already know harvest is over and it's on its way. The nights are drawing in, and the stubble is just crying out to be turned over. You can feel autumn in the air. And just like that, drilling is knocking at your door! I know the long days (and nights) can be tough on your farmer, But I also know they can be even tougher on us wives and partners. So here are few tips to help you get through the continuing drilling season, remember the end is always in sight!!
Be prepared to be called upon. Always have a pen knife, baling twine, gloves, hat, a hammer, oh and a sense of humour all to hand.
One pot dishes, find a couple of dinners you all love and use them freely, easy to do, easy to serve (even on the go) and a piece of cake to warm up or they can usually sit in the bottom oven and the can be popped in freezer too.
Sharing is caring. It's okay to share and separate tasks including chores and looking after the kids with friends and family. Being the best team sometimes means giving in and asking for help, often this is the only way jobs (drilling in this case) get done.
Remember it's not his fault, I need reminding of this frequently! He is doing because he has too, not because he just likes playing on his tractor (or so he tells me!)
Remember why you farm and why you married him. He is not only feeding your family, but he is feeding the world. Sometimes, just sit back, enjoy the view and remember your passion!
Forget it. Machinery needs repairing? Weather not playing ball? washing and dishes piling up? Guess what? It will be okay. Just learn to forget all expectations when days simply don't go to plan.
Patience is a virtue. I'm not going to lie and say everything is always rosy on the farm, because that would be somewhat misleading, however, I've leant that when tensions are 'slightly' raised with long days and late nights, I can simply count to 10 (sometimes 20), smile, remind myself it's not personal and have knowledge that it will be over and back to normal soon. I'm quite looking forward to going to bed at the same as my hard working farmer time once again!
If I missed anything, please add in the comments.
Love Hannah. x
After last night, I had to write this blog.... Harvest was going so well, until mother nature stepped in, all this recent rain has slowed things right down and left me with a non-existent, grumpy husband!!
It's a bit of a morbid turn of phrase, but rest assured, being known as a "Harvest Widow" does not mean that your husband or other half has died. It is an endearing pet name for those who are left at home whilst the farmer is busy out in the field during harvest time! During this season, it is noticeable that you are spending numerous evenings alone, attending parties and events on your lonesome and feeling like a single parent. so, hands up if you find this a problem or it causes friction in your house? I mean, of course it would surely and I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said it didn't affect me and my family. However, it happens, it's life and I do admire how hard Mr M works this time of year, so I have been looking at the pro's of the "Harvest Widow Effect" , here goes:
This time of year is rewarding, but never easy. It tests everything you have, your families, your relationship and your sanity, it pushes you to your limits, but every year you get through it and look back and say "we love harvest" - that is, until next year!!
Everything about farming thrives off team work and harvest is no exception, however, those times that you are lonely and you hate being in a quiet house for the 4th week running, it seems very far removed from team work, so do something for you and have that all important self discovery time. Before you know it your other half will step through the door, leave a trail of wheat, chaff and dust then dump his dirty overalls in the kitchen!! Bang, there goes your 'you time'.... take advantage of being a 'Harvest Widow' it's only a short period of time really, you'll look back and think how lucky you are.... Bring on drilling!!!
Happy harvest and stay safe. x
Social media is terrible for showing off people's lives in a ridiculously unrealistic way, well that's the conclusion I have come to...
As a member of lots of groups I see houses that are spotless (with kids living there), Toddlers wearing white with not a speck of dirty on them and food that makes me salivate. However, there is one group that is based around cooking on your Aga and the love for your Aga, brilliant, I do love my Aga. I ogle at the amazing dishes made from scratch with veggies out of the garden and I am inspired by how tidy they all keep their kitchens and how sparkling their Aga's are. So when I look though these food posts and think what a good job farmers are doing by growing this fresh produce, I also find myself grimacing at them with a guilty conscience.
I hear lots of people harping on about how they are 'harvesting' their garden crops and getting them freezer ready for the winter months ahead, either by making lots of meals, jams or chutneys, that's right guilt.... You see, as a 'farmers wife' everyone assumes you are the oracle of farm fresh food and you'll always have the answer on how to cook and prepare vegetables and how to cook a piece a meat to perfection. That conscience is creeping back.
This is where I own up about the 'ideal farm family' lifestyle, behind every door there are secrets and ours is no exception, here is my farmer's wife fail... Summer is looming, most of you will appreciated this is by far the busiest, craziest but most satisfying time of the year on the farm and this leads us to eating all the food we get criticized for. I wouldn't say we eat horrendously, it's not takeaways every night, but when you think of the land we live on and what we produce, the food that gets out on the table (or lap sometimes) is far from the farm fresh idealistic cuisine that society portrays (sorry, what social media portrays).
So with fresh yumminess all around us and growing on our land, what we actually consume may surprise you. We don't have a set dinner time any time of the year yet alone summer and the food I cook needs to be kind of transportable if Mr M is still harvesting at midnight. The kids routine is also out of sync, and everything seems rushed. So what's on the summer menu?
Fish fingers, yes I had to start with these as they are ultimate, "shit my kids need feeding quick" food, and during the summer this happens a lot, with mash or in a sandwich these little beauties never fail. Pizza (no veggies, sorry)! Chicken, if I cook a whole chicken that can last us 2 days, using the leftovers in a curry or fajitas. I'm not ruling out takeaways as fish and chips are a winner sat in the field watching daddy combine (I'm sure fish and chip shops have a surge in sales during harvest!) Sausages, with anything. Sandwiches, never discount a sandwich for an evening meal. I accept none of this is terrible, but is far from the wholesome veggie laden 3 hours to cook stew or Sunday roast with ALL the trimmings that people think farmers eat every evening!
Now, I don't think I am alone here, This has to be a wide spread secret of many UK farming families (please tell me it is?) We all improvise and serve up our own version of 'fast food' relying on little time to prepare, cook and dish up and the invention of, dare I say, processed foods!!
The working hours of any farmer escalates in summers starting before 5.30am and sometimes not coming in until the early hours. Throw in two toddlers, one at pre-school and the other needing entertaining you can imagine that by 4pm most evenings dinner has been an afterthought.
The irony is that the good farmers that produce such fresh food us very rarely find the time to enjoy it at its freshest.
As a farmer's wife I strive to get my domestic goddess self together and dish up plates of food to be proud of, I would love whip up a taste sensation in 20 minutes flat with the amazing produce from my pantry, reality is, I very seldom know what is actually in my pantry and I spend the 20 minutes searching the internet for quick, simple, nutritious recipes. So, to my dear friends in the Aga group, please do keep up the good work and post away with all your spectacular creations for me to drawl over, please accept my failure as a journey not the destination, and I am getting there, slowly!
Whatever you're eating tonight...
Who doesn't love receiving beautiful flowers? Let alone being given a wonderful 'Lonely Bouquet'.
This is a phenomenon that has swept the world for the past few years, the idea is simple, to spread cheer and love to strangers or people that deserve it.
Across the world normal people (not just florists) have been gathering flowers from their garden, petrol stations or local shops and leaving them in public places for people to find, take home and enjoy. There is a cute note with the floral surprise letting the lucky stranger know that they have found a 'Lonely Bouquet'.
This idea has completely pulled at my heart strings, I cant get enough of fresh flowers in my home, I can only guess that I am not on my own here, so, I am going to do my own 'Lonely Bouquet' soon. Happiness can come from simplest of concepts.
How did I come across my 'Lonely Bouquet'? I didn't exactly find it, but a good friend of mine (Flowers by Anna Brian) who grows her own flowers to sell always shows appreciation with her colourful sentiments, I did her a favour and she gave me these beautiful flowers to adopt.
Look out on Friday 5th May 2017, NAFAS (National Association of Flowers Arrangement Societies) are doing another 'Lonely Bouquet' campaign, NAFAS members will once again leave posies of friendship the length and breadth of the country.
Come on folks, get picking and get giving... Our world deserves some random acts of kindness and love. Comment below if you're going to give it a go.
Find out more about this wonderful craze on The Lonely Bouquet Facebook page
For the first time, in a long time my husband and I went away for the night 'kid free'. We took the 2 hour trip to York and stayed at a lovely spa on the outskirts. Our experience was lovely, and the reason I write this short blog is simple.
In the evening we opted to indulge in some of the spectacular cocktails on offer in the Titanic Spa's 1911 Bar. The menu was so tempting I sampled most of them!! What stood out for me was the passion behind all of the cocktail creators, 2 guys and 1 lady all with smiles and a cheeky bit of competitiveness put together some beautiful works of art that looked too good to drink.
The place had a buzzing atmosphere, we sat at the bar so we could ogle over the cocktails being made (some made to order, not on the menu!) and chat to the staff. Which is what we did.
The one bar tender we started to chat to just loved the art of cocktail making, he didn't need to tell us that, we could just tell. So I asked him if he was trained or was he self taught? To my horror, before he even started to tell the story of how he learnt his trade, he said;
"well, you see, unfortunately I'm dyslexic"
I quickly jumped in and asked him why he thought being dyslexic was 'unfortunate'?
At the establishment where he trained to making such masterpieces they had to learn all 50 odd cocktails and all the ingredients off by heart. He did that easily, because he is fortunate to be dyslexic and his memory is superb. However, this had to be proven by a written exam, in which you had to gain 93% or more to even step foot behind the bar. He couldn't do it, he simply couldn't write them down, he wasn't given the option of an oral exam... I was horrified. Needless to say, he soon left.
Luckily for The Titanic Spa - 1911 Bar, they didn't have such narrow minded acceptance policy, and they now have an exceptional cocktail creator and master of rum!!!
Why did this strike such a nerve with me? Well, my late Dad was massively dyslexic and so is my Brother, In our family dyslexia was never a 'diagnosis' it was, and always will be something at sets these people apart from others, more of an 'identification'. People need to realise it is not a disease or an imperfection that we strive to find a cure for, there is no cure and never will be. It is purely a characteristic that gives some people more opportunity and drive than what they may have had otherwise.
An adult or child with dyslexia shouldn't be labelled or made to feel they are lesser of a person than anyone else on this planet, there are many pitfalls that people push them into by uneducated comments. These need to be abolished. It's a lot more simple than people think, find a way the dyslexic likes to and is able to learn and go with it. If they are practical, make learning practical, if they are musical, learn through the medium of music, if they excel in maths or have a flair for art use it... These people who are labelled as stupid are our next engineers, artists, designers, inventors and entrepreneurs, just ask these successful dyslexics:
So, if you or your child have the dyslexia characteristic, please don't hang your head and say "unfortunately I'm / they're dyslexic". On the contrary, hold your head up high and boast about your / their skills and talents and say:
"I / they outshine at this because I am fortunate enough to have dyslexia"
If you are dyslexic, please comment and let us all know how you use this fortunate trait to our advantage.
During a quick pit-stop with the children in a local coffee shop, I spotted they were giving away used or out of date coffee grounds. Curious, (and a fan or quirky ideas) I had to ask what it was all about.
Who'd of thought, they are used to enhance garden compost? I was drawn in, I picked up a bag and trotted of proud as punch, not only was it free, my garden will look amazing!!!
I did as intended and added the washed coffee grounds to my compost and I have to say my flowers have bloomed fantastically. Since doing this I have read conflicting articles on the use of coffee grounds on your garden, so I am only talking as I find.
So why are they so good for the garden? when used in compost the coffee grounds are classed as green waste and break down as any other compostable matter would. The recommended ratio for coffee grounds is 10% of the compost as they can be deemed acidic. Even after the coffee its self has been filtered away, the grounds still contain proteins, acids and carbohydrates which will provide nutrients to the microorganisms that turn your waste into gardening gold, compost. After researching further, adding the grounds to the compost heap will increase microbial activity, which raises the temperature. The benefit of this is that it helps kill many pathogenic bacteria and fungi as well as the seeds of weeds that sneak into the heap from your garden waste.
There are many more great ways coffee grounds con used in the garden, for instance, worms love it, they are attracted to it and carry it deep into the earth. Brilliant, feeding the worms and feeding your soil.
I've not tried this, but it is documented that you can attempt to change the colour of your hydrangea's . You may be aware that more alkaline soil produces pretty pink hydrangea flowers, while acidic soil tend to throw blue flowers. If your plants have pink flowers, feed them some washed coffee grounds and wait to see if they show any signs of changing colour.
I have to admit, this brought the geek out in me, I love eliminating waste, so this was bang up my street (or my garden path!) Try it, I can't promise it'll work for you, but it's defiantly worth a go.
Having studied at an Agricultural College (now a University) I can concur with all of the stereotypical following, If you would like to add anymore, please do comment below.... Let's all have a good laugh for old times sake!!
Here are a few, I could go on and on but your computer might crash!!!
1. Every man you know has one of the following names somewhere on their birth certificate: George, William, Henry, James, John.
2. Wellington's are a standard choice of footwear. For lectures, pubs, nightclubs, anywhere.
3. It’s perfectly acceptable to carry a shotgun around campus, or even to have one stored in your student house. (In a gun cabinet of course!)
4. You have one nightclub, maybe two, and still only go to them once in a blue moon.
5. All collars are worn up.
6. You have a pair of 'Bar Boots'.
7. You have turned up to a lecture wearing fancy dress and nobody has batted an eyelid.
8. Initiations involve maggots, sheep spray and gold fish.
9. You struggle to understand concepts such as “veganism”.
10. You can pluck and prepare a game bird.
11. Drinking seems to be a core module for all subjects.
12. Fieldwork involves visiting a farm.
13. Everyone has a car.
14. Trainers are strictly for sports only.
15. The weekends see an exodus as students leave to shoot/ hunt/ take their washing home to Mummy.
16. There is an unofficial uniform of tweed, nowadays it seems to be the Schoffel gilet.
17. It’s possible to pass your degree without ever visiting the library.
18. The rivalry between other Ag Colleges old boys (and girls) will stay with you forever
19. There are balls all the time. If you are a girl you take out an extra student loan just to buy dresses.
20. Despite having to study crop production, have everyone know your business and have to drive several miles for civilisation, you wouldn’t study anywhere else.
21. You're still friends now, no matter how long ago you left College.
*This is a generalisation and in my opinion, not in any way factual.