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 and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats 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 am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I also run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood

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!


Sunday, 30 November 2008

Green Meme #2

I have decided to join in with Green Meme #2

1) Link to Green Meme Bloggers.
2) Link back to whoever tagged you. (no need to wait to be tagged!)
3) Include meme number
4) Include these guidelines in your post
5) Tag 3 other green bloggers.

Green Meme #2

1. Do you use baking soda toothpaste or baking soda shampoo? If not, would you consider it?

Yes I have used both. I use BS toothpaste sometimes still but I am happy with my Faith in Nature shampoo and conditioner, so have not gone back to using BS shampoo

2. Do you make any home cleaning products?

Yes we use lots of Vinegar and Baking Soda and essential oils here! I also use Soapnuts in my wash and vinegar and essential oils in the rinse. The windows are cleaned with a vinegar/water mix and polished with an e cloth or newspaper. The loos are cleaned with vinegar, the floors mopped with hot soapy water and then vinegar and a few drops of essential oil to rinse and be a final clean.

I also own a bottle of bleach ( some things just need bleach!) and some multi surface cleaner and cream cleaner from Bio D, (an ethical brand) for tough jobs and I use Bio D washing up liquid which I get in large quantities! I tend to use it as a general purpose soap as well.


3. What is your top green issue at the moment?

The fact that, despite ALL the evidence that Climate Change is real, and is happening NOW and that people are beginning to be affected by it here in the UK ( strange weather patterns, flooding, storms, crop failures etc) the vast majority of people STILL seem to think it is a right to consume as much as they like or can afford. I really worry that we collectively can't call enough of a halt to over consumption and wasted energy useage to have much impact on Carbon Dioxide emmisions.

4. Given unlimited cash, what is on your fantasy green wishlist?

Hmm given what I just put, I probably shouldn't say anything about getting more stuff!

but in the interests of the meme..

I would employ some help to re fence our place, make lots of new raised veg beds and paddocks here, put up new outbuildings to house some pigs and perhaps a goat, to add to the hens we already have.

I would buy a field, hopefully adjacent to our land (!) and use it to pasture the stock and grow a hay crop.

I would re-dig the pool area, levelling it all off and making sure the pool was water tight , I would probably make it a bit different shaped also ! then I would build a jetty/pond dipping platform out over the water .

I would have a large (possibly straw bale) building on the edge of the wood, where I could hold environmental craft and training sessions and run various courses for adults and children. With a composting toilet and a wood chip boiler.

I would also have a wood chip boiler system for heating the house, lots of PV cells on the roof and a large wind turbine in the garden so we could live "off grid" .

AND I would make sure all the jobs lined up for Compostman to do on the house, were done by other people so he could have a rest!

I would also employ someone to come and look after the place twice a year for a couple of weeks, so we could have a holiday somewhere!

Hmm interestingly what I am actually mainly buying on my green wishlist is time...getting back some of ours! by getting other people to do the time consuming hard work stuff for us.

5. Have you implemented any new green act/behaviour/product this month?

This month I have been gathering lots and lots of leaves to make leaf mould.

I really enjoy these memes! They allow me a chance to articulate exactly why we do, what we do.....

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Cute cat stuff.

You still need to click on the photos to see the cats properly...I can get them to load properly IF they come from my computer, but these came from photobucket so are still not loading right..( sigh)

I will have another play when I get a moment...



Tom Kitten with his favourite doll.....he keeps on moving her so he can cuddle her!




Sid and Tabitha in a huddle



or is it a cuddle?



Tabitha was cross as the flash woke her up, Sid slept on......

Bagging some good news?

I saw this report on the BBC website today Supermarkets 'to halve bags used'

It basically reports that four of the UK's leading supermarkets say they are confident that by next Easter they will have halved the number of plastic bags handed to customers. The supermarkets have been appearing before MP's at the House of Commons Environment and Rural affairs Select Committee into Waste management in England

Waitrose and Asda have apparently already achieved 30% cuts by moving bags under counters so shoppers had to ask for them.

Asda also told the Select Committee it had diverted 99% of operational waste from going to landfills in two of its 353 stores, in Bootle near Liverpool and Horwich near Manchester - by removing all biodegradable waste and using it to generate electricity, and taking out all recyclables.

Other stores also reported reductions in waste during the committee meeting, and all parties seemed to agree action was necessary on the ever-increasing amount of textiles going to landfill which, in the past five years, was up from 5% to 30%. They are all also aiming for a reduction in energy-related transport CO2 emissions from deliveries.

HURRAH! Its all good stuff in this report, apparently.

BUT..I can't help wondering why they couldn't have done the plastic bag thing many years ago? If it is SO easy to reduce their use just by simply putting them out of sight, WHY THE HECK didn't they all do it sooner?

The same goes for the removal of recyclable materials from going to landfill. THAT should have been a standard requirement for any store.....

I don't mean to sound mean spirited, or as if I am carping about little details...I AM pleased these stores have ( finally) started doing more to minimise the waste they generate and to recycle it.

I just can't help feeling its all rather belated.....

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Musings inspried by Leaf Mould and a ( hopefully?) last mowing

I managed to cut the grass yesterday! I have still not recovered from the shingles and I did too much last week with various work related stuff, so have had a few days of doing very little ( well by my standards, anyway!)and resting and reading. But I felt a bit perkier, so I cut the grass.

I am very relieved by this as it has been such wet weather that I haven't been able to cut it for ages. We have lots of naturalised bulbs under the grass and they are beginning to emerge from the soil so I needed to get the grass cut NOW, or risk cuttting the tips of the plants off...also it helps to show off the flowers next spring , if the grass is tidy now.


I also went a gathering leaves to make leaf mould. Here is a path in the wood before I went down it....



And here is the path after!







And here are all the leaves in a huge pile, waiting for me to rearrange various part-full compost bins and use the finished compost and leaf mould from last year into pots and onto beds, so I can refill the bins with these lovely leaves to make more leaf mould, to use for next winter! ( but before that happens I expect we will jump in the pile a few times ;-) )

Its the same old things here, year after year, I have blogged about doing this job before and I expect I shall write about it again next year! But I delight in the cyclic nature of our life here, it is a thing which gives me great joy and is a source of strength, in some indefinable way.

I love this time of year, I wrap up warm and do my chores outside, I feed the hens and collect the eggs (or Compostman collects the eggs for me) this is the time for us to gather leaves and clear the beds and fork them over,to empty compost bins and spread the wonderful rich compost on to the veg patch, to refill them with all the stuff cleared from the various beds and boarders, leaving enough wild patches so insects and animals and birds can feed and shelter of course!

We get time, now, to do some of the jobs that never get done in the spring and summer, because we are just too busy! So... tidy up sheds and oil and sharpen tools and sweep up in the Polytunnel and have a clear out of things.

And also to fill the log basket during daylight (!) so as to have it ready to light the woodburner at dusk, to have the hens shut in the Orchard well before dark so they can be safe whilst they make up their minds who is going to sleep in which hen house tonight and with whom......with chuntering and grumbling and muted henny sounds of argument...they DO make me laugh!



Then, when it gets dark, to retire inside our house, coming in from outside with cold hands and cheeks is a delight, as the warmth from the kitchen is blissful! It is a warm and cosy place, where we then drink hot tea and make bread and hearty casseroles and stews and soups made from veg we have grown ourselves.

I get time to make candles and soap and creams, to knit and sew and do all the things I like to do but have very little time for in the summer months. Time to read even more than I usually do! Time also for sitting in front of the woodburner in the dark, gazing into the flames...and dream of next year, of bulbs unfurling in the spring sunshine, seeds, and flowers and summer again.

All this musing, just because today I gathered leaves.......

:-))

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Invasion of the Hens...the Sequel!




Just for Aromatic...............this is me trying to get the Hens out of the house.....and ...you can hear their funny sounds!

Oh and I forgot to mention in the other post...Ginger has worked out how to use the cat flap..so I guess they will be inside a lot now......

Invasion of the hens

THIS is what happens when you leave the back door open to let the sunshine in...and walk away because you are chatting to a friend on the phone....( you know who you are!)












An INVASION!

It took me ages to chase them out! :-)))

Monday, 24 November 2008

Colours of Autumn

Some random photographs from my garden over the last few days, as I wandered around looking and smelling and enjoying a lovely sunny afternoon, watching the leaves fall to the ground ( heh heh I shall have those soon for leaf mould...)

and generally having a " just being" moment...well as much as one can, along with 2 cats and 6 chickens, of course!









This last shot, a lovely moonrise....




(Just a note about my photos....dear friends, I do NOT know why all my photos are now huge! I am doing the same as I always have done, nothing has changed at my end BUT now the photos all come out BIG...and sorry but unless I resize every single one first before publishing them I can't seem to fix it......I am not trying to make you look at my pictues in huge detail, honestly! I shall ask Blogger why this is now happening to me and see what the reply is.....Annoyingly although they are huge, a bit is cropped off the sides so to see the whole photo you STILL need to click on it.......( bangs head on the table.....) )

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Green meme 1

I’ve been tagged - by kittyboo
and this one seems very interesting to participate in!

The Guidelines:

1. Link to Green Meme Bloggers

2.Link to whoever tagged you

3.Include meme number

4.Include these guidelines in your post

5.Answer questions ( which are quite thought provoking!)

6.Tag 3 other green bloggers.


.....................................................

1. Name two motivations for being green:

I was brought up in a self sufficient manner by my parents, living in the country, growing food, rearing chickens and riding horses. Although I lived in a city as an adult, I always tried to live a more self sufficient life, composting, growing veg, recycling, being a member of various environmental pressure groups etc. I can't imagine being any other way, although I have got much "deeper" green in the last 10 years or so...because....

I now live in a place where we CAN be more self sufficient and I have an 8 year old daughter. I found that being pregnant and then having a child tended to concentrate my mind even more on the issues of what we are doing to our environment which will be passed on to our children as an inheritance for them to deal with.

I got involved with various environmnetal pressure groups in the early 90's, and as a result I also started up my own Environmental Consultancy, advising mainly small community groups on fighting Incinerators, Road Schemes and things of that ilk. I gradually learned more and more and it all sort of grew from there!


2. Name 2 eco-unfriendly items you refuse to give up

My car. It would be very hard to live here and do the work I do ( I am an Environmental Educator and Forest School Leader) without a car, but I AM aware that I really ought to not use one.

Umm...I can't really think of much else? Oh..I know!

Buying books ( mainly from Amazon), rather than going to the library for them. I prefer to own books even though I KNOW I could just borrow them!


3. Are you at peace with, or do you feel guilty about no.2?

Hmm I try not to do "guilt"...I do the best I can under current circumstances and I know I *do* live without a lot of things I might quite like, because I think its not a good idea to have them from a Carbon Footprint POV!

Giving up a car is something we are jointly discussing at the moment, seeing if we could manage here with only one car is on the cards as an experiment.


4. What are you willing to change but feel unable to/stuck with/unsure how to go about it?

I would love to keep pigs and table chickens (for their meat) but am having to consider the feelings of other family members on this matter. *I* have killed meat I have raised, in the past, but they have not and are not so comfortable with the idea (yet)

We want to replace the Oil fired Aga with a wood burning stove system, and also install a solar thermal water heating system....but ill health and bad weather this year has conspired to slow our plans. Hopefully next year will be better.....!



5. Do you know your carbon footprint for your home? If so, is it larger/smaller than your national average?

Yes we do know our footprint and we are at the Govt recommended levels for 2050 - however, we still have a long, long way to go until we’re what we'd consider truly sustainable. We have plans to install Solar thermal water heating, remove our use of oil for heating and generate electricity via PV's and when we have done all that our footprint will be MUCH lower!


6.What’s eco-frustrating and/or eco-fantastic about where you live?

Eco frustrating:

The recycling scheme - We don't get kerbside collection so all our recycling efforts are done by Compostman and I loading up our car when we are going somewhere close by a recycling site!

A lack of like-minded people close by. There are LOADS of like minded people but they mainly require a fair old car trip!

Eco fantastic:

Where do I start? We have enough land to grow most of our own veg, keep chickens, we could rear our own meat. We have a wonderful woodland which provides wood for our heating and is a solace to the soul and an endless source of fun and wonder, watching the wildlife.

We have tremendous providers of good, organic/free range local food and drink and a good network of like minded people around us in nearby towns.

We are involved in educating children at our DD's school in Organic gardening and sustainability issues so are helping the next generation to learn about useful stuff.
#

7. Do you eat local/organic/vegetarian/forage/grow you own?

Yes, we buy organic if at all possible, we largely grow our own veg and fruit but use a local Veg box scheme or a local Organic greengrocer shop to fill in when we run out or didn't grow.

We are not vegetarian - I sometimes think we should be but we like meat too much. We do limit the amount of meat we have and will only buy good quality meat that we know has been farmed in an free range, ( usually Organic) way. We eat a fair bit of cheese and, of course, lots of our own eggs.

We forage a bit, mainly nuts, but we grow enough stuff on our own land!


8. What do you personally find the most challenging in being green?

The constant mental auditing process about everything..... its part of who I am and I have always thought deeply about things... but occasionally I look at something I would really like to have and it's just *not* right..it ticks all the " wrong" boxes from an ethical, environmental, sustainable view point ( lets say its been tested on animals and made in a sweat shop !)

....and I would love, just sometimes to feel like I could say "sod it, I WILL have it" and not have my conscious niggling away at me IYKWIM

I would love to fly to other countries again but that is something we just don't do. So any trips abroad will have to be slow ones!

Also, people are surprised at our lifestyle because we look relatively normal! The expectation is still that "being green" means looking like a hippy! But we don't!


9. Do you have a green confession?

I don't know about a confession, as I don't like to ascribe guilt to things in that way......but in the interests of this meme....

I still buy stuff from Supermarkets....we have 2 brands of Super in my home town and Te$co is one..the other had been bought out by the Co Op and I am pleading with TPTB that it is turned into a Co Op! but at the moment, I have to get some stuff from the evil giant....I get mainly cat meat,loo roll, beer and wine and milk from them ..but I wish I didn't get any thing from there! I do use Waitrose or Sainsbugs in nearby towns if I am there, and I get a bit more stuff from them,( still ethical /fair trade/organic etc...) but we try to buy most of our meat, dairy, milk, flour. pulses, nuts etc from local suppliers, Farmers Market or our local wholefood shop

If I could, I would never set foot in a Supermarket again, but its just not really possible, even here!


10. Do you have the support of family and/or friends?

My husband is incredibly supportive and without him we could not live the life we do. I have some good friends who are like minded and live in a similar manner. I have other good friends who are at least sympathetic, even if they don't live in the same way. I don't have any friends who are unsympathetic!




So..I'd love to read the answers to these questions from ...

GTM

Eco Gites.

Aromatic.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The view from my window

This is the view from the Study window, looking North

Looking West


Looking west at dusk.

I am SO lucky to live here! I sit in the study and work at my computer, Compostman has a desk next to me and we work on our respective stuff in companionable silence. AND we can look out over the gloriousness of the Herefordshire landscape.

This weekend we have seen some astonishing sunsets, truly spectacular. I honestly do not think I have seen such pink skies for many years, not since Mt Pinatubo volcano errupted, a long time ago.

I DO worry, though, that there are so many con trails in the dusk sky. All those aeroplanes contributing to Global Warming. :-((

Friday, 21 November 2008

Tagged!


I have been awarded a Tree of Happiness :-)) Thank you Eco Gites!



The rules of this award are:

1. Link to the person who gave the award to you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. List six things that make you happy.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the person who awarded you, know when your entry is up.



So... six things that make me happy: They are things for this time of year, if I were to do this in the summer I think I would be putting different things!

1. Working in my polytunnel, during the winter , when it is cold and wet outside and I am warm and dry inside! I love the sound of rain hammering down on the outside when I am inside.

2. Woodlands. I can wander around, sit and look and listen and smell the smells of a woodland for hours and hours.

3. Cats. A cat sitting on my lap, purring away like a steam train, and Compostman sitting next to me , with another cat on HIS lap!

4. A meal of home-produced food, cooked by Compostman (who is an excellent cook!) , with a nice glass ( or several) of good red wine, or beer or home made something. And then a sit on the sofa in front of the woodburner, with a cat or 3 on my lap!

5. My Hens. Their antics make me laugh most days...and sometimes its the only laugh I get....so I treasure their silly clucks and squarks and fights over nothing.....and the chicks especially are SO funny!

6. Doing environmental stuff with children. I LOVE to work with children and see the delight on their faces when they see something they have not seen before, or grow a carrot and pull it out of the ground for the first time!

Now for the blogs. I love reading other people's blogs, so it has been hard to limit it to 6, but here goes!


Hot Belly Mama

The Winds of Change

Being Mrs C

Tea With Willow

The Smallest Smallholding

A Little Slice of Life

I will let you all know you have been tagged by me and if you want to, you can pass it on...but don't worry if you don't want to do it!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Chicken feed...with menaces!

Hello lovely people!

The latest trick the hens have adopted is to lurk around in the depths of the "lean to"


This is a substantial 3 and a half sided building on the back of another building, which acts as log store, general store and dumping place for all sorts of stuff...its also the place where the hen feed lives...
and now they all have taken to hanging around in there, terrorising the cats ( who like to snooze on the log piles or hunt for mice in there) and generally acting as if they own the place....

which, of course, they do!
Tom looks on nervously as the hens gather around his perch.

So many of you have asked me questions about my hens that I have decided to do a post about what I do with them!. I am NOT a hen expert by any means, but I did keep chickens as a teenager ( Old English Gamecocks) and I have read and researched a lot and asked a lot of experienced chook keepers what to do, so here are some questions I have had about the hens.

I've been wondering lately about woodchip. Is there a special kind I should get? And where from! My girls have only been with me for about 3 weeks and could really do with a layer of something down in their run as it gets a bit boggy. I let them out for a few hours a day but can't leave them out as I'm on a housing estate and there are a LOT of cats about.


I use Easybed inside the hen houses ( along with straw in the nest boxes)..its really good..Hemp based stuff seems so light that it gets kicked around whereas woodchip bedding does not.

Inside the run? I use our own wood chippings from our own wood..when we fell trees for firewood we chip the twiggy bits and I use that inside the runs.

Remember that my girls are only in their runs for an hour or so a day typically...then they are out free ranging in the garden.

I think for putting in a run for hens who are kept in the run mostly, wood chippings is a good thing as it gives them something to scratch and furtle in...so a bag of untreated bark or chippings would be good? But put a pile up the middle line of the run if you can and let THEM spread it all out.....as that will be part of the fun for them...

One thing I have noticed though, if they don't get let out much, they don't mind being in a run nearly all the time, as long as it is a reasonable size and they have stuff to entertain them....shiney cds hanging up, an apple to peck at, is something my lot like.

BUT once they DO go out for a longer time..they rapidly get very disenchanted with being kept in their run, however huge and palatial it is.

My lot even hate being loose in a 50 m circumference paddock...because they have normally have had access to 3/4 of an acre of garden and orchard.
spoiled , or what...( roll eyes)

I just thought I should warn people about this...it IS only my observations of mine and other friends hens

I have seen hens who have an hour out at the end of the day and they are happy in their run the rest of the time as they know they get some "out" time later on

Although the hens need a good big space to scratch and play, as long as it is big enough for them all in the run, if they never get more, they don't seem miss it but it seems to me that once they DO get more space, it upsets them not to have access to it all the time ...IYSWIM

Please note I am NOT making suggesting that it is OK to keep hens shut up in "battery" conditions here! A hen run needs to be big enough so no hen gets bored and starts pecking, or feather eating, and there needs to be somewhere for the lowest hen in the pecking order to get away from the others if needed.



Just wondering how often do you worm your hens?


I worm my girls every month with Verm-X liquid - I tried the granules but the girls turned up their beaks at it so now I use the liquid version. I squirt 4 squirts onto a slice of wholemeal bread, one in each quarter and then feed each hen a quarter of the slice. I do this for 3 consecutive days, on the first, second and third of every month.

I also look at the hens droppings to see if they look ok and if there are any visible worms...and we move their runs and paddock onto fresh grass regularly to minimise the build up of worms.

So far that is all I have had to do. Verm X is good stuff.

Also I use Barrier Organic Red Mite and Louse powder for pest control..although I now only use one or the other as they both contain (apparently!) the same ingredients

I use Poultry Shield for "deep" cleaning of the hen houses, just in case..although ( touch wood) so far I have not seen any red mite.

I have a first aid kit of Gentian Violet, veterinary wound powder and I also would use my Aromatherapist knowledge to treat any injuries.

I give my chickens water laced with Organic Apple Cider Vinegar every day and it DOES seem to have helped the couple of hens who previously laid soft shelled eggs.

The chickens have free access to grit and chick grit in bowls in the runs, as well as free ranging for 6 plus hours every day so they get enough grit(essential to grind up their food as chickens don't have teeth)

I feed my hens Organic Layers pellets /Chick Crumbs/ Growers Pellets depending on their needs, I also give them Organic Mixed Corn in the afternoon as a treat, and use it to entice them into the runs at dusk!

They DO get various extra treats...cheese and soft soaked bread are their favourites!

But stolen, illicit stuff like cat meat. or mice, or frogs... is the best stuff in their eyes! ( ooh when they get a frog it is horrible!)

Hope this helps, any more questions put them in the comments and I will do another post later!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

More hen stuff.

Sunday and yesterday Compostman and I have been moving the hen runs and houses around in the orchard, trying to get them onto some drier bits of land. We also want to move the perimeter fence to a new area of the garden in a day or two, so we moved the henhouses with a mind to doing this soon.


Uncoupling Cluckingham Palace from its run was fun, in the mud!


WHATEVER you do around here, a hen ( or several) will always turn up to have a look!




"When is it OUR turn?"


Lifting the rat proof mesh which sits under the Eglu run


And putting it in its new position.

Oh, and in case anyone WAS wondering, I DO participate in all the hard work as well...I just break off to take pics from time to time!



This is the end result, after we moved the runs and hen houses I spent another hour cleaning all the houses out, putting down new woodchip and straw in the houses, filling the drinkers and feeders ( I gave them all a good scrub yesterday so they were nice and clean)and generally making it all nice and cosy for the girls.

Then the girls came in to inspect the work, they often seem a little unsettled when we have moved their houses around, and wander around "visiting" each others places and having a good nose around inside.

Finally they went into their own choice of roosting place. Babs and Goldie have opted to sleep in the Broody Ark, they seem to be getting on OK with the others but prefer to sleep apart. Sweetie and the chicks all pile into the Eglu ( which must make it "cosy" in there!) and the rest of the girls go in to Cluckingham Palace.


Goldie the Rhode Rock, number 1 egg laying star and beautiful, gentle hen ( shhh don't tell the others but she is one of my favourites!)

Monday, 17 November 2008

Sid, Tom and Tabitha feel left out....

Hmm..never let cats see your computer screen.............

As I have posted some pictures of Kitty Cat, I apparently have to put some up of the others....so.......

here is Sid, on his favourite chair..he is a very balletic sort of cat and normally never sleeps in a tidy way if he can loll instead.....he sort of "drapes" himself over everything! but here he has decided to curl up...



Tabitha....well what can I say about her> she is deeply troubled at the moment, that is obvious...but we ARE making progress..she has managed to use the litter tray and I *hope*, she can now be trusted not to crap in the rest of the house...as she has not done it during the day for several days now....

She basically sleeps anywhere a cat, shouldn't(!)

Tom ..ah Tom..well he is a poppet , a darling and is shaping up to be like the late Monty Puss....a pussboy...this is a cat which actually thinks they are a small boy of about 9 years old, so join in with all sorts of fun and games in a very non cat like way..think "Just William" stories and you have the idea.........

a pussboy tries to turn on the TV, or operate the 'phone, or use a pencil on some paper ( all things Monty did!) or thinks they should sleep in a bed like *we* do..... and Tom is showing all the signs....here he is, early this morning, creeping into bed with Compostman...........

ah bless! :-))

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Kitty Cat

I thought I ought to post up a couple of pictures of Kitty Cat, if only to give people some idea of how big he is!

He IS a big cat, he only weighs 10 lb now but in his prime was 18 lb of pure hunting muscle.



So far he is happily coming in at dusk every evening and taking his tablet in a ball of cheese, with no problems, and then lying by the Aga or on the sofa for the evening. AND he *is* looking a little better since we started him on them! So thats good, isn't it?

He didn't used to always come inside every night, some times we didn't see him for a week but I think he now needs us to feed him rather more than he used to as he is too poorly to hunt at the moment.

He has always been welcome to come inside with us, he isn't deliberately kept outside btw! He just seems to prefer being outside and sleeping in the loft over the garage. Compostman made him a heated bed a few years back , which gets put on in the winter months, so he is warm and cosy in there and has food and water at all times as well.

We would have liked him to be more of an indoor puss but he has always done what HE wants, as is always the case with a cat IMO!

Lovely big gentle Kitty Cat, a real character!



These are standard height kitchen units, so you can get an idea of how big he is!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Imperial hens ( with purple bums!)

The hens have been pecking poor old Cathy again, so I sprayed her last week with Gentian Violet to deter them and also as an antiseptic, just in case of any wounds.

BUT with all the wet weather we have had recently the purple was beginning to wear off and so we had another go today. This time, I remembered to wear gloves, so *I* don't have purple hands at the end! ( It takes a week to wear off *me* so I know it lasts!)I gave some to Compostman as well.



Cathy in front, Genghis behind.


Compostman and I went out into the lean to and one by one captured, up ended and sprayed Cathy, Genghis and Attilla, all of whom have bald patches from pecking to a greater or lesser degree. Attilla pecks the others and also does a patch on her own tum, Genghis pecks Cathy and poor old Cathy just gets pecked by both of them I think.



Here is poor Cathy, looking very fed up in the wind. Add in the fact that Cathy is also moulting and she looks very sorry for herself....poor old hen!



We also had another "Invasion of the Hens" today, Ginger, Attilla, Cathy and Genghis all decided it was too cold outside and as soon as the door opened...in they charged!

I love the way they stand on one leg! :-)

Friday, 14 November 2008

The Sweetie Six at 10 weeks old.

Have just realised I haven't posted up these pictures of the Sweetie Six!

They are now 10 weeks old, very friendly, Sweetiepie is STILL with them as their Mum...she still feeds them and protects them and they all settle under her at night, which must be quite a strain for her to keep her wings outstretched all night, over them!

The No 1 cockerel, has been tentiatively named Rocky and he and the No 1 pullet go around together in rather a sweet way!

No crowing noises yet as he and his "brother" are too young.....not quite sure what I am going to do with the other cockerel...if I can, I will sell him..... but if not, I guess he will be sunday dinner! Hmm....thats a good name....( only joking, honestly!)

Anyway, here are some pictures for you all to enjoy....







Thursday, 13 November 2008

First Aider!

Hmmm I had various posts scheduled to be published in this last week but it doesn't seem to have worked? As they all seem to have been published today? Ah well I must have done something funny with the posting times.....

ANYWAY.......

I am now the VERY proud holder of a First Aid at Work certificate! ...the proper, HSE, four day job!

I already have a paediatric first aid certificate ( a 3 day course) which I took last spring because I work with children as an Environmental Educator and playworker, Epi-pen training (which I have now updated 3 times in the last 18 months as it only lasts for 12 months in a school setting even though the certificate actually is valid for 3 years..) which allows me to help administer adrenaline to someone in the event of them having an anaphalaxis episode,

and a specialised two day "First Aid in the Outdoors" course which I did as part of my Forest School leader training in July this year.

BUT I now ( again) have a full First Aider certificate

I first did this training back in 1985 ( not 1990! I went and checked!) at work, I kept it up until I left work in the mid 90's...but then I (rather foolishly) let it lapse.

In 1985 it was a very different course, a lot more bandaging was involved as I recall, and if you failed anything you failed the whole course. Also the recusitation programme was MUCH more complicated back then. Apparently it has been changed because it was puting people off doing anything to help? in case they got it wrong? Hmm well if someone has stopped breathing, they will be dead in a few mins if no one does something..so IMO simplifying the guidelines is a Jolly Good Thing in my book!

I also worked during the 80's and 90's in a very specialised research establishment so had to do extra training in the sort of hazards I might encounter during my day to day working life..( HF and other nasty acids figured large, as did using breathing apparatus to get out of a toxic fume filled lab) ...I worked in a semiconductor research facility so we had some "interesting" training to deal with potential first aid cases !

Fast forward 30 years...and I am , once again, qualified to help people as a First Aider...perhaps not in quite such a hazardous environment but still...I can feel confident I know what I should be doing.

I have to thank Anubis Training, once again, for a wonderful course which made the complicated, seem easy.....And I am VERY proud of myself.....So sorry if I am blowing my own trumpet a bit..but I AM very proud of myself!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Oh dear......poor old Kitty Cat

Oh dear...

Our oldest puss, the very lovely, gentle giant, Kitty Cat, has been getting a bit thinner recently...he is (at least) 16 ......and he has become totally deaf in the last year, but with no obvious medical cause we have just rather sadly put it all down to him getting older, as happens to us all eventually.

and then Compostman noticed on Sunday that Kitty's wee had blood in it :-((

so Compostman took Kitty to our lovely vet Martin, who took a blood sample and checked him over and...he has a kidney problem..a SERIOUS kidney problem.....

Oh dear...we have to try to get a tablet down Kitty every evening...and that is a REALLY hard thing to do as Kitty is a HUGE cat ( even now, after losing lots of weight) , and although he is VERY gentle, does NOT suffer any "messing with" gladly.... :-(

One of the worst things, apart from Kitty Cat being ill, of course, is that I feel a sense of Deja Vu...I really do hope this is NOT like the stuff we had to cope with last year, with beloved Monty puss.....where we ended up having to give the poor fellow all sorts of stuff, which may well have helped him stay alive BUT which made him ( and us!) utterly miserable in the process.

Kitty is an outdoor puss, not used to being messed around, so the chances of us getting him to take regular medication in his food is zilch...we MIGHT get away with giving him one tablet a day, in a ball of cheese ( his favourite food!) but the idea of sprinkling powder on his food etc is just NOT do-able with Kitty Cat..he HUNTS his meat, not gets it out of a can!!

Oh dear, I DO hope he is just "fixed" with a tablet a day..in a ball of cheese....as anything more would just NOT be possible with Kitty Cat....

:-((

Sorry...it all seems a bit gloomy round here at the moment......what with Tabitha and her continued toilet issues, Compostgirl, and me still being unwell......

:-((

Monday, 10 November 2008

October egg round up!

Well it is now November at Compost Mansions and I shall yet again bore you all witless with my egg tally for the last month ;-))

Henny has laid one egg on the last day of October as she had gone into a full blown moult for the whole of October

Ginger continues to lay well, she laid 21 eggs but in the last week of Oct she, too has gone into moult. Not really surprising as Henny and Ginger are the same age.

Attila laid 20 eggs and Cathy only laid 11 but still not bad as she is a baldy girl and an ex batt as well!


Sweetipie is too busy being a good mum to the Sweetie Six to bother with egg laying and Genghis Hen is too silly.......and has laid precisely NO eggs at all.....


But yet again, the absolute stars of the Eglu are Babs and Goldie! yep the new girls laid the most eggs! Babs laid 28 and Goldie laid a magnificent 30 eggs out of a possible 31

I think that given we are now into dark nights and shorter days the girls are doing magnificently to keep on laying at all...and I am giving them LOTS of extra treats and high protein nibbles to help them grow new feathers as fast as they can.....

Their favourite food is chopped up cheese...or stolen cat meat from the cat bowls.....if they can find the back door open they come inside "mob handed" and try anything they can get




THANK you all, my lovely, lovely girls, you are all a bit of a trial sometimes but I wouldn't be without you!
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