Wednesday 10 April 2013


Among the field of barley.
I've got a nagging feeling that this blog has a major flaw. (Probably several actually, I'm not really a writer!) The trouble is, I'm writing it in the hopes that it might give people a couple of cheap and easy ideas for ways to entertain their kids when they're stuck for things to do.
But that isn't how, or perhaps why these activities worked for us. I didn't plan to do them, I didn't even think of most of them, generally the kids just invented their own amusement with what was to hand, and being a big kid myself, I joined in. I'm not sure whether they would have approached these activities with the same enthusiasm if I'd said, for example, "Come on, we're going to spend half an hour jumping off the windowsill onto a mattress!"
My post today is about a field and I've written it to explain that often, the less you plan the better.
We spent a lot of time last summer enjoying one particular field, not because I thought it would be educational, healthy, fun or anything else, (in fact I got quite tired of trekking back and forth to it, inspite of my new-found and unexpected appreciation of farm machines!) It was because the kids decided it was the most engrossing thing in the world.

It takes us about 10 minutes to walk to the field, allowing for a bit of swinging on the goal posts on the rec, checking the state of the conker tree, hiding in the maize field on the way etc.
The field itself is not that spectacular- it is massive and flat, although it does have a huge dead tree in it which always looks impressive if a bit sinister. Last year the farmer was growing barley in it, and from the beginning of the summer holidays we made an almost daily pilgrimage to see if the combine harvester was there yet. And then one day, it was!                                                   
"It's a John Deere, with its header up!"

Cue massive excitement and lots of straw-based celebrations!

I have to confess, although I don't think I had ever given a combine more than a passing glance until about two years ago, the boys excitement is totally infectious. Standing at the edge of the field watching that monsterous machine pass by, spewing straw out the back and spilling grain out of its long arm is a pretty amazing experience. The noise and the power of the thing is almost overwhelming. We watched them harvesting the barley for A LONG TIME and then followed the tractor and trailer to where it was taking the grain to a big shed over the road. The farmer was more than happy to let the boys go in and see the mountains of grain that were piling up inside.
I foolishly mentioned that combines often work into the night to get the job done, and at nearly ten o'clock that evening the boys reappeared downstairs, where we were dropping off in front of the tele, and demanded we go back to the field in the dark to see the combine with its lights on. Sadly it was snoozing too but the adventure of running through the maize field with torches in the cool dusk was enough to make the trip worth while.

And of course, that wasn't the end of the story, because next we had to trek to see the bailer, dropping straw bails out of its rear end "like massive poohs!"
... and the tractor with a bail fork loading up a trailer to take the bails away.

And just when I thought we'd done our harvest experience, Zac said, "Next we've got to see the cultivator!" (He's a big fan of Tractor Ted dvds, hence his detailed knowledge of farm machines!)
It's the cultivator, but it's not cultivating!
This involved a great many more trips to the field because the weather turned bad, and whilst I thought that would mean it was more likely they would be cultivating than harvesting elsewhere, after about a week we tracked down the farmer who said the field was too boggy to cultivate.

Heaven is hanging out in a combine wheel!

I have no idea how many times we walked to the field over the space of those four weeks. Lots. Sometimes several in a day. But what a great way to spend the summer holiday. It cost nothing, it involved fresh air and exercise, the boys learned loads about harvesting- partly because any time they got close to the farmer/ drivers they asked loads of questions in the way only young, uninhibited kids can, and the chaps seemed to enjoy taking the time to tell about everything, (they even gave them a brochure of farm machines they had in their cab!) I would never have planned the holidays that way, but by not planning anything they came up with the best possible solution.

I'm not saying spend your holiday in a field. The point I'm trying to make is: if your kids show an interest in something, then going with it can turn it into the easiest entertainment available, certainly much easier than planning activities for them which may or may not turn out how you'd hoped. So I'd love you to keep reading my blog, and if you do take anything from it- brilliant! But keep in mind that your kids have probably got much better ideas than any of us adults bloggering about on this www.

Here's Zac singing the combine song while he watches the real thing at work:


  1. I am so glad you linked this post up to Country Kids. It is just the sort of outside fun I adore. Sometimes less is more and children can great so much enjoyment out of what is around them. Looks like your boys will be farming experts soon. Some lovely photos along the way. Thanks for linking up.

    1. Thank you! We had a very relaxing few weeks roaming around the countryside. Not having plans made for a pretty stress-free summer!

  2. I think you write brilliantly.
    And your photo taking is amazing!
    I absolutely love the expression on their faces as they throw the straw.
    Thank you for linking up.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. Gosh they enjoyed that straw- good job none of us get hayfever!!

  3. Totally agree, be guided by the kids. My son would love that field with all the farm machinery too. Such simple outdoor fun.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsbeKids