Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically, which we share with Chickens, Cats, Guinea Pigs and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I work as an environmental educator, writer and Forest School leader at Moors Wood and I also volunteer as a Master Composter and hens@home mentor with Garden Organic. We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Friday, 10 October 2014

The joy of the "everyday" life

After the excitement of the last couple of weeks, fun though it all was, it was a bit of a relief to settle back into the "everyday" routine. I am a home loving Compostwoman on the whole

Typically my daylight hours starts and ends with doing the chickens. The Seramas are as enchanting as ever; tiny, clockwork like movement, fluffy bundles of feathers they run around at my feet and are one big social group. I let them out of their run while I do the various jobs around the barn and they love exploring, but never too far from me :) If one gets separated it is very upset and squawks madly until it is reunited with the flock.

They are very attached to their run, though and after 10 mins or so will all troop back inside, without any chivvying from me :)

Next I see to the "big girls" all five have settled down to a happy, mostly-non-pecking, pecking order and are content in each others company. I am getting 4 eggs most days and several times a week all 5 lay so we have lots of eggs available. Which is a good thing for me as on The Harcombe Diet they are handy to have to eat lol. Five hens is a good number for us to have I have found. The sixth hen, Amber Poppet, was too poorly to recover from her recent illness despite the antibiotic treatment, so I sent her gently on her way one evening. Sad but neccessary.

Then it is time to see to Juniper the last remaining Guinea pig. She is quite old now so does not move around a lot but loves a cuddle and to be brought into the house and sat on a lap for a while. We try to talk to her as much as we can and not leave her to be lonely.

I am always accompanied by Cassie my furry cat familiar when I go out to see the animals. She loves to come for walks with me and always dashes to the gate before me so she can jump up on the gatepost and give me a kiss. We all watched the BBC Horizon Secret life of cats TV series last week and it made for very interesting viewing - I think our cats would show up, if tracked, as farm catsbut with lots of lazing around in the house as well.

The rest of the day at the moment is spent on any number of the following; washing, tidying, sorting out stuff, working outside, cleaning out one or both chicken houses and runs although I try to stagger this job, having a bit of Fb and blog time at lunchtime; cleaning, helping Compostman, mending, sorting out my clothes which are TOO BIG ( joy) taking in my clothes which are TOO BIG (if I can), a bit of archery practise, picking veg and fruit (although that is tailing off now) and maybe some composting. A mixture of inside and outside work and fun throughout the day.

Some days are wet so most of the jobs apart from the essentials are inside ones; some days we go out to shop or to a museum or library.

In the evening after doing the reverse chickens- guinea pig routine I watch TV, read, craft, chat to the family and do more stuff on the computer. The woodburner has been lit for the last week or so, now so the evening are very cosy in our sitting room.

Normal, routine, everyday life:) I love it.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Lugg Valley Company of Archers have new indoor premises.

 Last weekend,  while I was at The Harcombe Diet Conference in Birmingham, Compostman was helping other members of our Archery club to set up this indoor facility at The Core in Hereford

The mission statement of The Core is to advance the physical education of children, young people and adults in Herefordshire and the surrounding areas, by the provision of recreational activities by providing opportunities for them to participate in sport.

It is a super facility; it is used as a skating rink and for other community events and now indoor archery! We are very lucky as a club to have such a great venue. 

So last Thurs we had the official opening and the ceremonial opening arrow was fired by Dave Cochrane.

This is the squad photo for all those who have contributed to LVCA being Herefordshire champions in the Bathgate league- sharp eyed amongst you will see a proud Compostgirl on the rh end. :)

We all had an evening of good shooting and there are toilets and sofas and a cafe at the premises - such luxury :) Looking forward to shooting there during the winter.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Harcombe Diet Conference Birmingham

After our adventures in Wales I spent Friday collecting the chickens and guinea pig from various places where they had been staying, buying a new car (!) and generally catching up with life here at Compost Mansions.

However I did have another outing planned as on 27th September I went off to Birmingham to attend The Harcombe Diet Conference. The Harcombe Diet  is a way of eating which has, so far, helped me to lose more than 4 stone in less than three months.  It has a very friendly and supportive online community and I was excited to be going to meet Zoe and Andy Harcombe at the Conference.

I got on the 7.50 train from Ledbury and after a trouble free journey arrived at Birmingham New Street . The conference was being held at the Hotel du Vin so I had a very pleasant short walk across by the Cathedral to the Hotel.

Lots of forum members were already there and I settled down to chat and drink decaff black coffee.

Then we got started.

Zoe spoke first and introduced some of the research she has been conducting recently about food myths and the wrong advice we are all given about fats and carbs. Her grasp of how statistics can be used by main stream medical and food vested interests to tell a story is stunning :) A very interesting presentation and she is a lovely person as well.

Next up was Kevin Downey - a Learning and Development Specialist who was inspirational and motivating. He took us though the ideas behind "The Chimp Paradox" an excellent book written by Prof. Steve Peters which aims to help us be the best we can be, in every area of life. Some of the ideas are difficult to grasp at first but then it all becomes very clear indeed :) 
"The Chimp Model is a Model for understanding and managing the functioning of the mind. The Model is not a hypothesis nor strict scientific fact but based on the neuroscience of the brain. The model is fun but meant to be taken seriously when it comes to applying it"

At lunchtime we had the delight of  "Harcombe friendly" food in large quantities and all absolutely delicious :) We had lots of time to chat to each other, I heard some inspirational stories from other members and Zoe came and chatted to pretty well all of us during the break.

Then we went back for the afternoon session, with Dr John Briffa.

Dr Briffa is a practising doctor, author and international speaker and is a leading authority on the impact of nutrition and other lifestyle factors on health and illness. He is dedicated to providing individuals with information and advice they can use to take control of their health and optimise their energy and vitality.

Dr Briffa is apparently a bit controversial (google to see what I mean) but I found his views to be honest and consistent with the facts presented. His presentation was fascinating and for me there were a couple of "penny dropped" moments during it where I realised just why my weight gain started about 13 years ago, coinciding with gall stones/antibiotic use/major illness/low fat eating and inflammatory illness.

We ended with a session from Kevin Downey which was entertaining and thought provoking and certainly set me up with a positive mental attitude :)

I went home on the train full of energy and ideas - not even dampened by a 2 hour delay at Worcester. I got home and immediately downloaded "The Chimp Paradox" and "Escape the diet trap"  onto my tablet. Loads of food for thought there :)

So a great day out with lots of interesting food for thought, new friends made' an excellent goody bag with free books in,  and a positive reinforcement that I am doing the right thing for me :)

Monday, 29 September 2014

Fun day in West Wales :)

After our exciting day with the book launch and then dinner, we slept well, got up and had an excellent breakfast and then paid our bill and left The Cambrian Inn. We called in at Solva Woollen Mill again and bought a few things ( chocolate and a beautiful rug)

This is my needlefelted "Small" riding on the back of one of Celestine and the Hare's sheep :)

 The chocolate is yummy :)

Then we set off for our day out in West Wales.We went to St David's and had a look at the Bishop's Palace and Cathedral, then we drove to Whitesands beach to have a look at rock pools and the sea shore

Compostgirl couldn't resist getting her feet wet so changed into a swimming costume and got wet in the sea. Far too cold for us so Compostman and I just watched :) Brrrr it was cold.

We saw seals bobbing in the water looking at the people on the beach  - I wonder what they were thinking?

Compostgirl dried off and dressed then we drove along the coast road admiring the view until we arrived at Fishguard, where we watched ferries arriving and departing


and went to the Sea Life centre. We have been here before and it is excellent to have a look at marine creatures.

it also has a very good cafe; where we stopped for an early lunch.

There were loads of seagulls in the car park and on the rocks which seemed to find Compostgirl very interesting. She tried to get one to feed near her feet but they were still a bit too wild to oblige - it amused us to watch their antics though :)

Finally we set off to visit Castell Henllys Iron Age Hill fort  - again somewhere we have been before and really loved. Compostgirl really wanted to re visit this place as she has not been there for 8 years.

Compostman and Compostgirl enter the gates at the top of the path up to the Hill Fort.

A Wicker Man stands on guard by the entrance.

Inside one of the reconstructed round houses

 back down the hill with a pause to pay our respects at the Sacred Spring.

Finally we went back down the hill to the visitor centre where Compostgirl had her face painted like a Celtic warrior. She is being fierce in this pose!

Sadly it was then time to go home so we said goodbye and spent a very tiresome 4 hours driving through torrential rain and spray to get home. We were all very tired by the long day but happy with our mini break in Wales :).