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, lecturer, writer and Forest School leader at Moors Wood . I am a Master Composter and have spent the last 11 years as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council. I offer talks and run workshops and events where we talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. We also make crafts and have fun.

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, 8 November 2009

Compostgirl's Tudor House project

Compostgirl ( aged 8 ) has been learning about the Tudor period at school. Over half term they were asked to do a project on Tudor Houses. Compostgirl decided to make a model and then do an annotated drawing. She researched from books and online, what the houses were made out of, what different houses would have been like (depending on how poor or rich you were) and decided to make a half timbered house, of the sort a moderately wealthy person would have lived in.

Its her idea and choice of materials, we have helped her a bit with the trickier bits like cutting up wood strips and sawing things, and finding materials for her.. She took a cardboard box, some polystyrene sheet to make up the jetty(the sticking out upper floor) covered it all in white card to look like the outside lime washed wattle and daub,

stuck thin black painted balsa strip (which she painted and cut up) on the box for the beams

and made a roof out of corrugated card, which she painted to look like a tiled roof.

She has cut up lots of small pieces of black wood strip and glued them in place to look like the beams. She also made little windows out of plastic sheet and glued them in place, surrounded by more "beams"

The roof was also dabbed with green paint, to look like moss, and she added some black staining around the chimneys to look like soot stain.

I know my lovely daughter is good at making things and has a huge love for history but I am astonished at how good this model is! I know she has had a fair bit of help from us, but in every case it was help to do things she tried to do herself but couldn't quite manage. Things like making the long strips of wood using a power saw(!) She did mark and cut the small beams herself having first painted them.

She has also drawn an annotated diagram of her house and written an explanation of what Tudor houses were like.

It has taken her 2 weeks to do and she has spent so much time and effort on it and it looks amazing!

Chimney detail

Front door detail

The finished article, front view

Side view.

Back view.

And finally, the front view again but with a very proud Compostgirl next to it.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

A crafty time, for me to enjoy........

A wreath made by a then 7 year old Compostgirl, the sort of thing we will be doing.

Twig stars, wands and wreath bases. I have also made some twig hearts. The bundle of sticks is not cinnamon but red dogwood.

Weeping silver birch wreath base, ready for decoration with greenery or ribbon ( or both!)

A recycled materials wreath. Plastic strapping, oddments of ribbon tied around and trimmed.

I have spent a very pleasant afternoon and evening making christmas-y stuff(wreaths, twig stars, ribbon wreaths, Gods Eyes, glitter pinecones, paper craft trees and flowers, paper fabric with pressed flowers etc) in preparation for a craft workshop I am running next week for various nursery staff and teaching staff. :-)

They get to make stuff from natural and recycled materials (which I provide, harvested from the garden or from the Scrapstore) with a bit of my help and also any new ideas they bring along ...and hopefully they can take their ideas back to their children and the children get to make the things as well.... :-) and I get paid for making fun stuff and passing on my ideas :-)

I now have a nice collection of things to show them, step by step photos to show on the day as a powerpoint presentation and I have written up a "how to " sheet and also done the risk assessments for making the stuff. I have just added where to get specialist supplies (raffia, brown paper bags, newsprint paper for printing wrapping paper, cones if they can't forage for them ...)I hope they can get twigs and suchlike!

I am running all the ideas past Compostgirl this weekend to see what age level I should say can do the crafts, and how I can modify them so younger ones can have a go...she loves helping me to make the things I am running sessions about and I give her extra pocket money as "my helper"

I also have some good news. I have just heard (literally just!) I have been accepted on to a an adult teaching/lecturing/tutoring course, the PTTLS course, 80% funded so I only have to pay a small amount towards it!

It starts soon, one day a week ...until end Feb. I am doing a lot of adult training workshops, so it was a good idea for me to actually have the qualification to go with the work I have been doing.

You know, I sometimes think it would just have been easier if I had done a PGCE all those years ago when I was first offered a place back in 1995, rather than ending up doing things the way I have done, what with the Forest School Leader training and now the lecturing course.

But then, I wouldn't have got all the interesting bits and bobs of experience along the way, would I? and I never really wanted to be a teacher in a school...teach people things, yes! ..but not be in a school..(IYKWIM ) ..not my cup of tea I suspect!

Off to make more crafty things for next week and to take some pictures of the most amazing Tudor House Compostgirl has made for a school project...watch this space!

Monday, 2 November 2009

A very busy half term holiday

As well as having fun with Compostgirl, I spent the half term holiday week leading up to Samhain/Halloween working with groups of children on various seasonal craft activities...mainly involving pumpkins ( now there's a surprise!)

All told I have been involved, one way or another, with the carving of 54 pumpkins, over the last 5 days in October.....

On one of my days off working we went round to see our very good friend M and her 2 lovely children for the day, we had lunch, the children played, M and I chatted and we carved ( you guessed it!) pumpkins!

Here is Compostgirl carving pumpkins with her friends.

The craft sessions I ran also involved lots of glue and glitter and orange paint

And lots of bats and spiders, of course!

I DO like my work :-) (even though it took a very long time to wash out all the glue and glitter in my hair.....)

but I think I will give pumpkin a miss for a few days...... :-))

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Update on Spike the hedgehog

When Spike the little Hedgehog was handed over to us after being found on the School playing field, he was a weak and poorly little hoggie. He only weighed 150 g and was desparately in need of food and water and warmth.

Once I got some drink and a bit of food down him he perked up and has twice in the past 3 weeks been into school to have a look at the children and for us to answer questions about hedgehogs.

We weighed him on 18th Oct and he had increased in weight to 300g....so he doubled his weight in 5 days!

he is getting bigger and eating more and more cat food so we weighed him again on 30th Oct and he weighed in at 450g.....

and when we weighed him again last night, he was a wopping 550g!

At this rate he will be big enough to release outside before the end of November and he will be big enough to go into hibernation!

Oh, and he looks a bit dusty in these pictures because we have just scrubbed out his cage, dried it, put in fresh bedding and dusted it with Diatom powder to kill off mites and fleas.... he isn't really grey!