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 . I am a Master Composter and spent 10 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!


Monday, 27 December 2010

The thaw begins

Well today I have been out in the polytunnel a lot as it is finally above freezing here - HURRAH! So I have been able to do some work, cleaning pots, sweeping the floor and generally making it all tidy and ready to start the 2011 growing season. Joyous times!

Hens are still disgusted though...the snow has not gone away so they are inside the Mega Hen Pen and are refusing to set foot in the nasty white cold stuff...

I also cleaned out the guinea pig hutch and the rabbit hutch, sorted out the study and did some crafting and mending.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Evening outside at Compost Mansions.




Brrrrr -14 outside...Brrrr

The Feathery Laidees were NOT impressed, despite hot porridge, mealworms and cheese treats.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

More about Christmas Day

So, amongst some lovely presents I recieved were....

A Cheese making kit....for hard and soft cheese, with a press and moulds and all...

A Lace making kit...

The book of the TV series Edwardian Farm and the 2 Stephen Fry autobiogs to read

and a bottle of Spietzia face oil, which I love, it smells of roses and vanilla.

Feel very lucky and pampered today!

Compostman and Compostgirl seemed to appreciate their gifts as well and we have had a quiet, friendly family day together...which was the very best gift of all!

Happy Christmas Day!

12 noon

Merry Christmas to all, its glorious here, sunny, blue sky, a balmy - 8 now, was -13 overnight (!)

Beef is slow cooking in bottom oven of Aga, went in about 8 am and will be done late afternoon...yorkshire batter resting, some presents have been opened, more to come...

all lovely but best one so far is the Cheese Making Kit (Hard and Soft) (thank you to my lovely Compostman Very Happy , how he got it delivered I do not know... )

And the Lace Making Kit - Thank you Compostgirl Very Happy

So some lovely crafty days to come for me, some involving milk I think!

I hope you all have lovely lovely days full of peace, fun, food and laughter ( and cheese).

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas and a blessed Yule!

To all my readers and blog friends, old and new, Season's greetings, A festive Yule and a Happy New Year!




From all of us here at Compost Mansions, the humans, the feathery two legged and the furry four legged ones.







May you have a lovely, lovely holiday time!





Friday, 17 December 2010

Friday shopping trip

I braved Hereford Sainsbury with Compostman, and got stocked up on the stuff we get from there. Our meat delivery came this week, so we are now OK for meat from the local organic farm. We also came home from Hereford via John Davenport's organic farm shop and got some fresh veg in. It will all keep quite happily in the garage, along side our own harvested stuff from the garden, ( sprouts, leeks, parsnips etc) as his stuff is sold " dirt on, roots on etc" so you can heel it in if needed for a week or more....

We also made sure all the store cupboard items were stocked up, likewise the small animal food. Will be getting more hen food and bedding tomorrow to make sure we have a good supply in the barn.

Also I now have all presents sorted and all stuff sent apart from cards which go tomorrow.

We have made sure that the fuel for cars and the generator is sufficient, just in case we have a power outage or several ( as is normal)

We are doing this becaues we expect more of the white stuff and disruption next week so are making sure we are prepped and ready for Yule/Xmas, now, just in case!

I am feeling a bit rough now, but managed a day on my feet today and did hens, small pets and some seasonal stuff as well as sitting in the car, so am on the mend again I hope.

But have to go and have investigations as to why I keep on having bouts of this drunk2 as it is getting too frequent....

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Thursday thinking

Still drunk2 ( I love that emoticon!) but slowly improving. May have to go out later to Hereford with Compostman, though, and stock up on food etc stuff regardless of how I feel, as more white stuff and very cold weather is predicted here over the next few days. Living where we do, we need to make sure we keep stocked up with supplies, as we have been unable to get out for more than a week, before now.

House smells delish though, as yesterday I have been making soaps and lotions balms and and bath bombs and all sorts of stuff. I thought up some new recipes for various soaps, lotions etc while I was bed bound and made some notes and read a few reference books on ingredients, essential oils etc.

As soon as I was well enough I set out to weigh and measure out ingredients and  and have made some really lovely stuff as a result. I make stuff like this as gifts and for our own use all year round but am thinking of maybe opening an online shop as I AM a qualified Aroma/Holistic Therapist so it seems like a good idea to sell some of the lovely, organic stuff I make!

We need smellovision on this blog...  :-) Pictures WILL follow!

Compostgirl got very confused this morning when she saw some bath bombs in cupcake cases curing in the kitchen, she thought I had left some cakes out in the open to go stale!
 

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Feeling slightly better

Am feeling slightly better, still in bed in gloomlight but double vision is going, can now read a book and walk(slowly) without falling over.

Hopefully will be up and about later on, got up yesterday for a couple of hours, did a few chores, made myself worse, went back to lie down again.....

Thank you all for the good wishes and hope you are all well, enjoying the season and ready for the up coming celebrations.

Don't forget the lunar eclipse on the Solstice! Am looking forward to that, if it is clear ( didn't see any of the lightshow last night due to cloud grrr......)

Monday, 13 December 2010

Am still poorly but taking the drugs ...they don't really help much, but knock me out so I suppose that is an advantage over the vertigo and nausea.....but am bed bound in a darkened room at the mo all day

Compostman bought a small ish LCD tv with DVD player and has installed it in our bedroom temporarily, so when I am able I can watch TV from the bed, so I enjoyed River Cottage and am catching up with some opera DVDs, as with those, if I can't watch I can at least listen! TV is destined to be a "floating TV" and will replace huge CRT/DVD player/digibox set up in guest room, which takes up much needed extra space, or can be moved into our room or Compostgirl's room as needed....so am glad he decided to buy it tbh.

Rather sad that I had to miss Cg's production of "Scrooge" today, am a bit gutted as am unlikely to be well enough to go to tomorrow's performance either... Crying or Very sad

but I know from bitter experience the ONLY way to shift this is with lots of dark room rest....so am actually doing just that ( shock horror! Am actually DOING WHAT I AM TOLD!!! Shocked Smile )

Hopefully doing this will get me recovered asap so I can get back to the million and one things I need to do, and so let Compostman get on with all the million and one things HE is supposed to be doing, and instead is doing MY chores as well as his...

Feel bad about that; don't like to shirk, but have no choice as I fall over when I try to stand up! Have already bashed my face about due to a tumble....

Hope you are all ok and enjoying the run up to the festivities....

Off back to bed, it took me 3 hours to compose this in Word...so have had enough now.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Labyrinthitis AGAIN

Am still here, but with Labarynthitis again so not looking at screens very much and so not writting blog posts, either..

Have been resting.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Cassi goes to the vets

- 9 here again last night, and very cold this morning...more ice and frost everywhere. Am in from the hens and have my hand wrapped around a hot mug of tea

We have had a fun morning of keeping cats separate from each other and food...Cassi Cat came on heat yesterday so guess where she is off to now? Yep, the Vets. So she had to be starved overnight...boy did she make a fuss. Poor little mite. Crying or Very sad

Still, maybe Tom and Tabitha won't bash her up so much once she is neutered...the violence from Tabs has ramped up again this last week, I wonder if Cassi smelled different or something?

Stay warm and safe, everybody

Monday, 6 December 2010

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Sunday

Very cold here again, slipping around all over the place in order to do anything outside. Another day of indoor chores with frequent trips outside to change frozen drinkers and check on the animals.

Cassi cat has taken to throwing herself around in a wanton manner, making wild suggestive vocalisiations......suspect puberty has hit! Guess who will be visiting the vets this week?

A very proud Compostgirl!




 




And here are some I made, earlier...



Whilst Compostgirl was making her purse, I was sewing  these from scraps and oddments. I like them :-)

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Slushy Saturday

Well it is thawing a bit here, but still cold. Compostman has taken advantage of the bit of a thaw to go into town and stock up on some stuff....like fuel for the Generator, just in case..and to get more building supplies while they can get stuff out of the yard ( last week it was all frozen solid!)

He is also taking yet more rubble from the sitting room floor to the recycling site. It is amazing just how much is coming out of that room.....

I am ironing and sewing and tidying, as enforced house time means I can catch up on such chores. Compostgirl is reading. Cats are curled up on sofa, very bored with it all!

Hope everyone stays safe and warm.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Frosty Friday

I have a sinus infection I think, which is making going outside in the cold to do the chores very unpleasant indeed.

It is lunchtime (1.30) and it has only just got up to - 4 here outside, and it was - 11 last night! All three cats wre snuggled on our bed in the night.


I am now using warm water to put in the animals's drinkers as otherwise it freezes really quickly.  Have just given the hens some warm mash and a few treats, they are obviously really unhappy as I have only had 4 eggs today!

Later....

Compostgirl about to come home, think I will shut up the animals and then watch a dvd with her...feel like I have been punched in the face, and just want to sit down all the time...still did lots of decluttering for charity shop (when I can get to it, not going in today) and stuff for school fete.

Hens finally gone on strike at the cold, only had 4 eggs today...!


Hope everyone is staying warm and safe.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

An icy trip to Hereford.

Snow here, more of it, very cold indeed as well here.

We went into Hereford today to watch Compostgirl take part in a Singalong organised by Sing Up. Was wonderful but was in Hereford Shire Hall, a HUGE Georgian pile with huge windows and no heating discernable. It was absolutely freezing in there sitting watching for 2 hours!


We also went shopping and stocked up on various stuff, not panic buying as we have a lot of stored items here, but things which we might run out of if snowed in for a week or so ( as we were in Janueary this year)

Drive back was "interesting", there seem to be lots of people who don't know how to drive on snow and ice...which was worrying!


Off out to do animals now, and then, some hot tea!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Ice and snow and more ice...

More snow here today, its 13 C in the study and I am off to put on yet more clothes......I already have many many layers on but am still cold!

Downstairs is warm but the room I am in is not zoned for heat until later on in the day.

Have been struggling to keep the animal's water unfrozen here, I have to keep going out and changing the drinkers, bring the frozen up ones in to thaw and then go out with them later to swop with the now frozen up ones I put out an hour ago.....

As you may gather I am not a fan of snow and ice!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A (cold) day in my life.....

Gosh I haven't done one of these for a very long time!

I woke up at 4 am to a strange brighter light, which meant the snow had finally arrived with us. I went back to sleep, fitfully, until it was time to get up. I dressed in lots of warm layers as I know I am going to need them today! We all had breakfast and the cats came in shouting to be fed as they were "starving and would fade away to nothing soon......"

Compostman took Compostgirl to school, the main roads are OK but our little lane was very slippery. I made more hot tea for when he came back. Compostgirl was a tad reluctant to go as she wanted to stay and play in the snow and also play with her birthday presents from yesterday, so we had to be a bit firm about that and remind her she can play at school with lots of friends!

Cassi kitten was keen to see what the white stuff is, she has not yet seen snow so out she went but I am not sure what she made of it all....other two cats are going mad leaping around like kittens despite being over 2!

I did some chores ( put washing on, tidied up, decluttered the kitchen bench etc) and checked my emails, sent a work email and a social one then switched off and got on with stuff.

Compostman is digging up our sitting room floor as part of the refurbishment etc,






so we are now living in the dining room ( converted into a small sitting room) and eating in the kitchen.













This means I have to make sure the bench stays clear of "stuff" - normally it gets slowly covered with bits 'n bobs during the day but I can't have that at the moment. So, I did a ruthless tidy up of all the work surfaces in the kitchen  to keep them clear.

I made some more hot tea and then went back out to feed the hens their hot mash and give them fresh water. Compostman had already let them out, watered them and topped up the pellets earlier, after he came back from school. He also checked the rabbits and guinea pigs were ok at the same time.



Hens fed, rabbits and guinea pigs moved into their runs inside the polytunnel, I came in for a warming cup of tea.











After that, off out again to empty rabbit litter trays . I made sure everybody had water, food, clean bedding etc,collected the eggs and then came in for lunch.

 It was very cold out there!




 Then back out to clean out the hen houses and the small animal houses



and put down a pallet in the hen run and cover it with some straw so the feathery ladies have somewhere to sit, up off the cold ground. They seemed to like it




After shutting in all the animals I did a bit of sewing and had a cup of tea. Later after some tea for Compostgirl, we listened to her explaining why she had not done her reading homework and did not let her get out of doing it. We have spent the last 6 days reminding her it needed to be done so she had no excuse...so she did not get to play on her DS tonight. Sadly she was not best pleased with this and a long tantrum ensued, but we maintained a quiet but firm resolve....with cuddles as and when she would accept them.  But it was a sad end to a good day.

I did some tidying and de cluttering upstairs and sorted out the wet washing on the drying rack, also put away the dry washing into the airing  cupboard. Then I ate my evening meal. I had a chat to a friends on the phone and also went online to a forum I am a moderator for.

Later Cm and I watched a programme about the early days of the motor car and then I updated my blog.

A busy day, and with some sad bits because Cg was unhappy and got upset. But overall, apart from Cg, a good day.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Still very very cold here...

Still very cold here. And windchill makes it feel even colder outside, I have just given the hens fresh water again and its freezing up in less than an hour...brrrrr.

Beautiful sunny day here though, very clear.

Also is Compostgirl's 10th Birthday today. Happy Birthday darling, hope you have a lovely day!!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cold snap!

Snow, ice, bloomin, blasted stuff....Well Bah Humbug, is all I can say...

Am shattered here  after a very cold day. Life with livestock, even if only hens, gets to be so much more work with ice or snow. AND I also have numerous small pets in hutches outside to sort out now, so that adds in extra time...

Dunno how people I know with serious levels of livestock are coping but everything takes as least twice as long, what with more feed needed, thawing out water, keeping it liquid etc....

It was - 10 C overnight so we had all 3 cats piled on us all night -  they couldn't even be bothered to fight! And ice on inside of our bedroom window glass this morning...brrrr it never got above -5 here all day, which is seriously cold for November in the UK Midlands. Normally we do not get this sort of weather for another 2 months  and I am a bit worried about the stored crops in the garage shelves....so I went off to check for frost damage to the pumpkins etc.

The poor hens hate it like this, the ground is just too cold for them, I have put down another pallet for them to stand on as they hate the ground this cold....they go all pathetic looking and stand on one leg.

We are also ripping up the sitting room concrete floor now so all is mess and disruption in the house as well which adds in a lot of work!!

Still if the weather stays bad, we have heat, a generator, a woodburner, lots of food for at least 4 weeks of normal-ish diet etc ...and that includes animal food, fuel for cars etc....so it might actually be sort of OK-ish!


I am writing this now in the early evening because I have finally finished outside chores, which I have had to re do 3 extra times today as food, water needs re doing due to cold. Now all is done, frozen things thawed or drained down, stored veg wrapped up a bit more, cider wrapped up in bubble wrap to stop it freezing, small pets given extra hay , food, fresh water and their houses covered over etc etc .

So I can sit, and have a hot cup of tea and contemplate watching "Sweeny Todd" later on the TV, a rather gory film I think but it DOES have Johnny Depp in it... I think I deserve a treat after today!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

New member of the small pets gang


This is Crystal. She is a Dwarf lop rabbit who is about a year old. She joined us from a local small animal rescue charity and is to be a companion for Peter Rabbit.

Rabbit introductions can be easy but can also be fraught with difficulty, sometimes even a buck and doe will hate the sight of each other and NEVER make friends, so we took Peter over to the rescue place and let him and Crystal met up first. When they didn't try to kill one another, we brought Crystal home and she and Peter rapidly settled down together.















This is them in the kitchen, having a bit of a feed. They are sharing a big hutch and are now very happy together.

I am feeling pleased as I now have sorted out the small animals being lonely issue! Fudge the Guinea Pig has two male companions, Chalky and Snowy, to keep him company and he is a much happier looking and sounding little piggy as a result. And now Peter Rabbit has a friend as well.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Winter eggspectations....

I have seen a number of forum posters and bloggers recently, writing about their hens not laying in the winter. I must admit I feel everso slightly smug as yet again my feathery ladies are still laying and I fully eggspect them to carry on through the winter...

My 12 hens are still laying!  4 are in moult, the other 8 potentially laying hens are laying 6-7 eggs a day. A few of my hens are year old -ish, rest are 2 years old ish and the moulty ones are 3-4 year old-ish plus

I count my blessings every day when I go out to them. I think an egg is a miracle of nature, despite knowing the science and biology which causes it to be laid!

So, what do I do with my girls to keep them laying? I am giving them hot mash at about 9 am which is made of layers pellets and hot water with various extra stuff added, poultry spice or marmite or garlic powder or natural yogurt on different days  just to make it more interesting. I do this first thing in the morning, then they have dry pellets ad lib all day as is usual.

I also make sure I give them their corn ration at about 2 pm, so they have space to fill up their crops again with pellets before bed time, as I found if they had the corn too late they didn't eat any more pellets. The layers pellets contain everything hens need to be healthy and to lay eggs but tbh probably get a bit boring for a bird whose natural habit is to scratch around on the jungle floor eating all sorts  of stuff. Which is why I try to give them a bit of variety in their diet! BUT it is important that they eat a final crop full of layers pellets before bed time as that is what helps to make the next days lot of eggs.

The hens also go out in the wood for an hour or so as well between 2 ish and 4 ish (if the weather is OK) otherwise they are in their paddock which is pretty huge anyway and I make sure they have lots of stuff in the paddock (grass mowings, wood chippings, leaf piles) to scratch around in and find stuff to eat.

This all seems to be working and my  regime means I get eggs all winter from the girls...maybe a few less in Jan and Feb but still I would eggspect 6 eggs a day from the flock of 12, which allows for my flock containing old hens/young hens/off lay hens.

and no, I do not use any artificial lighting as I personally do not agree with tinkering with my hens natural body clock...but that is just me and if others want to that is up to them...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Random photographs of what I have been up to



Covering over the fallow parts of the veg plot with geo textile,



Teaching craft courses


 Clearing out our sitting room so it can be gutted and insulated and all sorts of stuff done to it by lovely Compostman



Trying to restore some order to the other rooms in the house, which have had to absorb a lot of extra stuff from the sitting room!


Fending off the hens from my chard patch!


Admiring some fabulous sunsets

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

My how she has grown!




Cassi kitten has been with us for two months now and how she has grown!

She is the loveliest cat, very affectionate and plays mad games of chase with Compostgirl around the kitchen. She is still a little nervous of going outside, but has ventured out especially if we come too.

She is settling in with Tom and Tabitha now and mostly they ignore each other, or exchange nose sniffs, but the major fighting has stopped thank goodness!
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