Outdoor Play Party – Homemade Bird Feeders

Mud Mud Marvellous Mud - Outdoor Play Party

 

Following on from the last Outdoor Play Party I have been looking into some homemade bird feeders. I haven’t yet had the chance to make them with Little Man but I thought it might be useful if I shared my favourites.

I love these Biodegradable Orange Birdfeeders from rhythm of the home. They are lovely and look really easy to make as well. I love the fact they are biodegradable and that I wouldn’t have to buy anything special to make them.

This Egg Carton Bird Feeder is perfect for using up those after Easter egg boxes. It’s another really easy one to make with items that can be easily grabbed from the recycle bin.

If you are still looking for some more Easter inspiration then these DIY birdseed eggs are simply beautiful but it does look like you need an egg mould to create them. I am also a vegetarian so I would need to find a bird friendly alternative to gelatin to make these, if anyone knows of any I would love to know.

Do you have any favourite DIY bird feeders suitable for spring and summer?

Last Outdoor Play Party I loved Winegums and Watermelon’s Unstructured free play with sand and water. Free play is so important for little ones and something I am a huge fan of. Allowing children the freedom to choose how to play, where to take their curiosity and imagination and letting them make their own decisions is the perfect building block for building confidence and independence. It’s also so much fun watching where their play takes them.

sand and water play 694x1024 Free play with sand and water

How have you been playing outdoors this fortnight? Have you been out enjoying the sunshine? We’d love you to link up and share the fun.

We’d appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we’ll gladly further share your post on FacebookTwitterPinterest. Please feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back.

Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured.(If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the ‘featured’ button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week! 


We have chickens!

Phew! This week has been a busy one. In amongst the daily busyness that is our lives we have been preparing for six new arrivals. We have been thinking about getting chickens for a while now and have been gathering bits and bobs in preperation. So when I came across a post on a local farm’s facebook page we couldn’t say no. They were rehoming some 3yr old chickens, previously part of a commercial flock and although they were past their commercial best they would be perfect for a backyard brood. They were part of a free range flock of Black Rocks which we had heard had nice temperaments so hubby was soon on the phone reserving six and arranging to pick them up Friday night.

Madness then ensued as we rushed to get the chicken house (an ex-playhouse) together, dragged out the old electric fencing we had from keeping chickens previously and prepared the area of the garden that would soon become their home. Little Man absolutely revelled in the preparations, wielding hammers and screwdrivers in his bid to help Daddy put together the chicken house. He had no clue what was coming but thought it was brilliant fun assisting with the preparations. His hand eye coordination and tool skills are quite good and he was very sensible with them all as well.

Friday night arrived and the girls came home. We settled them in for the night and waited in exctiment for the following morning when we could get to know the new additons. I was up for work in the morning so it was my job to let them out and make sure they had food and water for the day. Hubby was so excited he got up with me rather than enjoying his precious extra few minutes in bed. They seemed quite relaxed considering the change and popped out to explore their surroundings.

Little Man woke up not long after I had left for work so I missed his first reaction but hubby said he screamed and squealed in excitement at seeing them. Him and Daddy spent the morning running errands but the afternoon was devoted to getting to know the girls. Little Man was very gentle with the girls and helped Daddy make their bed all nice and add some finishing touches to the chicken house. The girls are a lovely bunch with a fabulous temperament. They are good with being handled, are very calm and quiet and seem generally quite chilled out.

So far we have only named three, mainly because these are the girls that have made themselves known. Our previous chookies were named after 50′s movie stars (Marilyn, Doris, Audrey and Betty) so this time we have gone for characters from sci-fi movies.

We have one girly with a baldy bum who we have called Altaira, she is quite cheeky and was top class at avoiding hubby when he was clipping their wings. She was the first one to escape over the electric fence (before their wings were clipped!) and she announces her egg laying skills to the world. Today she gave us a good telling off when we didn’t collect her egg quickly enough!

We have called one of the girls Leeloo as she is very red compared with the others, she is also quite bold, insisting hubby made way for her when she needed to get in to the chicken house to lay her egg (he was making some last minute adjustments to their house and happened to be blocking the doorway).  

The last one we have named is Sylvia, she is quite a shy bird with a bald patch on her neck and she seems to be quite low down in the pecking order. She is very quiet and so far seems to be the last one into the coop at night waiting for the others to settle before she gets comfortable. We are really looking forward to getting to know them all a bit more over the next few days and naming the remaining three. 

I think I had forgotten what big personalities chickens can be. I think they are brilliant pets and would totally recommend them to anyone with the space. Little Man loves them and in the process he is learning how to handle and be gentle with animals as well as making connections between his food and how it makes its way to the plate. Plus we have already had 8 eggs over the past couple of days. Lovely big yellow yolks and the satisfaction of knowing they are super fresh.

Do you keep chickens? What do you love best about them?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Outdoor Play Party – Feeding the Birds in Spring

Mud Mud Marvellous Mud - Outdoor Play Party

Birds are one of our most easily accessible wild creatures. They are everywhere, easy to spot and come in an amazing array of colours and sizes. Little Man loves them, watching them from the window as they go about filling their tummies at the bird table and scrabbling with each other about whose turn it is. He will shout ‘birdy’ whenever he spots one and can already tell a Robin from a Blue Tit and a Jackdaw from a Pigeon.

Any birds yet?

It doesn’t matter where you live, you won’t have to go far to find a bird or more. But believe it or not many of our most common species are fast declining such as the House Sparrow and the Starling. House Sparrows have declined a massive 62% since the 1970′s and Starlings 84%! The reasons for this are complicated including factors such as the loss of breeding and feeding grounds. Charities like the RSPB and the BTO are working hard to come up with the answers and find solutions to these declines.

But we can all help in our own small way. For me helping wildlife is about ensuring my son has a passion for nature that will inspire him to take action as he grows up. He already asks to help with putting out the bird food and as he grows I hope this will develop into other actions such as fundraising like The Two Little Tweets or maybe even working for a wildlife charity. For now though we will stick to feeding the birds and playing in nature as much as we possibly can.

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can.”

Sydney Smith (1771-1845);

So here are my top tips for feeding the birds in springtime.

  • Always keep your feeders clean. This will help keep the birds that visit your feeder healthy and prevent any diseases spreading between them.
  • Always buy the best bird feed you can afford. Some of the cheaper feeds are just full of bulk and don’t have much nutritional value for busy mums and dads that need to feed their chicks.
  • Good food to choose from the kitchen cupboard are soaked sultanas, raisins and currants and mild grated cheese. You can also put out soft apples and pears and chopped up bananas and grapes. Getting the little ones to help make up a bird food mix is a great way of getting them involved. Little Man really enjoys this part.
  • Don’t put out peanuts, fat or bread at this time of the year because it can be harmful to chicks. Peanuts in particular can be a choking hazard for baby birds.
  • The best thing you can do is to garden with wildlife in mind. The more bugs and beasties you can encourage the more natural food there will be for the birds. Baby blue tits can eat up to 100 caterpillars a day while they are growing so mum and dad might be looking for 1000 caterpillars a day just to keep their babies going. And we thought we had it bad!

Do your kiddies enjoy feeding and watching the birds?

Last Outdoor Play Party I loved Rain or Shine Mamma’s Spring Nature Study: Life and Death in the Forest. I think this is a great way to talk to kids about a potentially tricky subject with so many learning opportunities. Some of the best naturalists out there spent much of their childhood looking at bones and dead animals and it is definitely something we shouldn’t shy away from (even if you have a phobia like me. I will get over it, I will!!)

Spring Nature Study: Life and Death in the Forest. Rain or Shine Mamma

How have you been playing outdoors this fortnight? Have you been out enjoying the sunshine? We’d love you to link up and share the fun.

We’d appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we’ll gladly further share your post on FacebookTwitterPinterest. Please feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back.

Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured.(If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the ‘featured’ button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week! 

Review: Mikk-Line Childrens Waterproof Rain Suit from Adventure Togs

mikk-line collage

 

Ever since Little Man was tiny we have been outdoors at every opportunity and waterproofs have been an important part of enabling us to do that. The right gear is vital for enjoying the outdoors comfortably but it isn’t always easy to come by or particularly cheap. So when Adventure Togs contacted me and asked me to review their new waterproof rain suit from the Danish outdoor clothing company Mikk-Line I jumped at the chance.

Sizes

The suits are made up of dungrees and a jacket (or trousers for aged 5yrs and up) with the sizes ranging from 1yr up to 11yrs. I do prefer the two piece sets to the all in ones you can get. I just think they are more flexible, particularly as we are coming into spring and you want the option of taking your jacket on and off but still need the protection of waterproof trousers.

Fit wise Little Man (aged 2yrs) has plenty of growing room so they should last him a while and there is plenty of room for layering clothes underneath if it is cold. The dungarees do slip off his shoulders at the moment though, just because you can’t quite adjust them enough but this doesn’t seem to bother him and it won’t be long before he is big enough for this not to be a problem.

First Impressions

My first impressions when I saw them online was that they looked a bit rubbery but when they arrived and I got them out of the bag they were actually quite lovely and silky soft. They are made of PU fabric which is breathable, windproof and 100% waterproof at 8 x the British Standard. With all the rain we’ve had recently these will come in handy!

Quality

Quality wise they are pretty good. Neither the jacket or the dungarees are lined but I have to admit that isn’t something that bothers me too much. Only the outside of the fabric has the waterproof coating and the material is lovely and soft. Compared to Little Man’s other waterproofs these do tend to stay warmer, the other set we have tends to get a cold sticky feel to them but I haven’t noticed that at all with these.

The hood is detachable and although this isn’t a function I am particularly interested in, it does have pop up buttons that do up under the chin which means you can do the suit right up to ensure the cold and rain can’t get in.

Usability

Getting them on is pretty straightforward. At first I wasn’t sure whether to put the bottom of the dungarees over or under Little Man’s wellies but we have finally decided on pulling them over the top. They actually have a clever little loop on the bottom which sits nicely underneath the wellies and stops the bottoms riding up, a common problem with his other waterproofs. This should theoretically keep Little Man’s feet dry although we haven’t tested them in any deep puddles since I worked out the right way to wear them!

The first day we tested them we headed to one of our local parks with a friend and it was absolutely pouring it down. The Mikk-Line waterproofs did the trick though and Little Man stayed toasty dry even after rolling around on the floor several times. His feet did end up wet but, as I say, I do think they would have been a lot drier if I had pulled the trousers over the top of the wellies. They also dried out nice and quickly once we were home which meant they were ready for more wet weather play by the afternoon.

So what does Little Man think? He actually really likes them and readily jumps into them when we are getting ready to go out. He used to kick up a fuss about getting his other ones on but these are straight on with no complaints. I’m sure it is because they are comfy to wear and they don’t restrict his movement at all.

Overall

Overall at £35.99 I think these are great value for money especially when you consider how much good waterproof separates cost. The real proof will be in their durability but from what I have seen so far they certainly look like they will stand up to most things Little Man will put them through. So if you are looking for a reasonably priced set of proper waterproofs then I would definitely recommend these. The rain won’t get in, the kids will be comfy and they won’t hang around sopping wet for days on end.

To buy them or find out more about the product click the main photo or visit Adventure Togs here at www.adventuretogs.co.uk

Please note that although I received the waterproofs for the purpose of this review all opinions are completely my own.

 

Outdoor Play Party – 10 Amazing Campfire Recipes

 

Mud Mud Marvellous Mud - Outdoor Play Party

Following on from my campfire safety post at the last outdoor play party I thought it would be fun to gather together a collection of fabulous campfire recipes. So here is my pick of the best 10 I could find including a few of my favourite recipes.

1. The tradtional Bannock. I love this one because it makes me think of past explorers. I can just imagine setting off with the mix in your back pack ready to make up and cook over the fire after a days adventuring.

2. These chocolate orange campfire cakes from Get Out with the Kids are actually amazing!! Check out their website too. They have lots of other lovely recipes there along with lots of other outdoor play ideas.

3. Campfire pancackes and hot fudge sauce – This is a favourite of mine. For the pancackes you can use your normal recipe just cook over the fire instead of the hob. The sauce is the really good part of this recipe. You will need 600ml of double cream, 400g plain chocolate (less than 60%), 3tbsp of golden syrup and 50g diced butter. First pour the cream into a saucepan and bring it to the simmer. Over the campfire this will usually happen nice and slowly which is good as you don’t want to burn the cream. Once simmering take off of the heat, add the rest of the ingredients and stir until it is all melted. It should taste like lovely fudge chocolate. Yummy!

4. Popcorn. I love these popcorn satchels. They are a great idea and really handy if you don’t have a popcorn sieve to hand.

5. Chocolate filled bananas. This is a classic but absolutely one of my favourites. I used to love eating them as a kid and luckily Little Man loves them too.

6. These marshmallow and strawberry kebabs are so simple but taste just delicious. They would go lovely with the hot fudge sauce too.

7. Pitta bread pocket pizza – This is another favourite of ours. Grab yourself a pitta bread and slice a pocket into it. Fill the pocket with tomato puree, sprinkle with cheese and then add your favourite pizza toppings. Mine happen to be green peppers and red onion. Wrap in foil and then pop into the fire for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and your toppings are nice and warm. Ta da! You have a yummy pitta bread pocket pizza.

8. Fruit and smore cones. These are delicious! I found this recipe last summer when we finally got round to having our first family bbq and they are now a firm favourite. You have to try them.

Fruit and Smore Cones

9. Baked campfire apples. Another one from Get Out with the Kids and just as tasty as the first.

10. Peachy caramel smores. Need I say more?

Do you and your kids love campfire cooking? What are your favourite campfire recipes?

Last Outdoor Play Party one of my favourite posts was Just Playing? Building a Snowman from Stir the Wonder. I loved the message, that it is important just to let our kids play, be in the moment and enjoy every minute of it. Time with them is so precious. Plus I love this photo, he looks like he is having so much fun!

Just Playing

So how have you been playing outdoors this fortnight? Have you been out more now that spring is in the air? We’d love you to link up and share the fun.

We’d appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we’ll gladly further share your post on FacebookTwitterPinterest. Please feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back.

Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured.(If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the ‘featured’ button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week! 

 

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