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 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!

Saturday 28 August 2010

Harvesting things.

What we have been doing this week is...

Picking pears

Harvesting the first of the potatoes for storage. We have been eating them since June, but now it is time to lift them and let thm harden off on the surface for a few hours, and then store them , for use in the winter months.

Harvesting the Lavender, for use in soaps and lotions and potions.

Some of the Onions, lifted (finally!) It has been SO wet we have not been able to and were really worried they would rot in the ground...)

More Onions, a tray of shallots ( really good crop this year!) and the first of the pumpkins!

Plums. Lots of them. We have called in friends to come and pick the surplus!

Friday 27 August 2010

Yes I do...

Want to see what is out of THIS window, now!

Have to sit on this pile of paper...

You what? It is paper you need to look at? Never!

Oh, you are picking up that little silvery box again? I'll just come over and have a look...

While I am at it, I will just stick my head in your tea mug and drink what is in there... ( honest, she did, but I wasn't quick enough with my camera!)

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Our new companion cat

Rescue cat is ADORABLE!

All black except for a bunch of white hairs in a whorl slap bang on the middle of her chest.

She has been at the vets for 3 weeks while they tried to find her owner, with no joy, was found starved and shivering under a shrub and with an injury to her hind paw ( looks like a trap injury, she had lost 2 toes...)

She is so friendly and delightful and purrs and purrs and has already draped herself repeatedly around my neck

Tom Cat and Tabitha think she is the anti christ, of course and much growling and posturing is currently going on in the kitchen...Rolling Eyes

Her name is Cleopatra....she has green eyes....  and has some Siamese blood I think, judging by the way she talks and sucks fur, wool etc!

Tuesday 24 August 2010

A very wet Monday, with pears to be picked and things to be done.

Managed to get up and get dressed, (eventually) after a very long lie in and breakfast in bed, thanks to lovely CM.

I wandered outside and collected eggs and let out the feathery ladies, have picked 17 lb of assorted beans in the sunshine, scrubbed out a few buckets and trod washed a load of horticultural fleece sheet.

Came in, scrubbed the kitchen bench and prepped some tomatos for drying later. I have also put on a load of washing and tidied up several rooms of assorted "stuff"

All this took 5 hours, as opposed to the normal about 1. Not operating at full efficiency, I think Shocked

Am now lying down again (3 pm) , having exhausted all energy for the moment. Neutral

Hmm dark thundery clouds are appearing, I want to pick the Beth pears but they are not quite ready to be picked BUT may get knocked off by the storm if I don't pick them...bother, what to do for the best?

5 pm update. Answered my own question and have just picked over 50 lb of pears. Obviously not yet quite ripe but ready to pick ( come off easily with stalk intact when raised up horizontal) and would have been knocked off by any wind/heavy rain.  About as many left which are not ready to pick, yet. Hope they can stand the gales/rain etc!

Pouring with rain here, has been since 11 pm Sunday. Did right thing with pear picking! BUT sadly looks like the Blaisdon Red plums will be ruined by the rain ( they go mouldy on the tree if it stays too wet/humid Crying or Very sad )

Have to take Peter Rabbit to the vets for his Mixy jab and to possibly collect an abandoned rescue cat later today. Fingers crossed it all works out...!

Sunday 22 August 2010

Stiffening up and shutting down

Been a bit absent for the last few days as I have had a CFS flare up and slowly stiffened up and shut down. Don't think it is a virus, I recognise the signs and have been getting them for a couple of days now...aches, confusion, extreme tiredness, dislike of bright lights and loud noise etc.

I have found it hard to even type this, so am going to sit on sofa under blanket with CG and watch HP and the half blood prince dvd. I have been resting a lot and sleeping a lot. Compostman has been wonderful ( as always) and has just let me rest

I have allowed myself to be fooled by the fact I have felt really pretty good, for me, lately and have overdone it a bit I suspect...I find it very hard to pace myself, always have and then suffer the result...that is one of the worst things about ailments like this, you can't FORCE yourself to do stuff as there is just no energy there to do it.

Bother! I MUST get on with dealing with produce mountain, gardening etc. I knew I shouldn't have been spending valuable energy on fun stuff like card making, knitting and embroidery, sigh.  But life can't be ALL work, surely?

Anyway, hopefully a lot of rest now will nip this bout in the bud and I will get some energy back, soon.

Hope you are all keeping well?

Friday 20 August 2010

And here are some I made, earlier...

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

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Making things and why I feel a bit of a fraud at some stuff

I have always felt somehow...not very artistic? or very crafty? For two reasons. Because I can't paint. And I can't knit "proper" things ( like cardigans. Or gloves. Or socks.)

My older brother is a talented artist who has made a living from his talent all his adult life. This left me being "the clever one" with him being " the arty one" But my feelings of  inadequacy as an artist ( until recently) will be the subject of another post, another time. Suffice it to say no, I can't paint pictures BUT I CAN craft things, scultpt, make paper, weave, sew, make pots, baskets etc. AND  people pay me to teach them to do so.

But knitting. Ah knitting. Well I do feel a bit useless on that front.

My Mother, my MiL, all my school friends Mums all knitted really well, effortlessly turning out socks, jumpers etc etc. It was a skill I took for granted that I would learn how to do as well, one day, when I was a bit older. Indeed my Mum DID start to teach me how to knit,  when I was 9, so I can now still knit all the stitiches and I can cast on and cast off, increase and decrease. My granny (Mamgu) also taught me, especially crochet ( which I have completely forgotten) and French Knitting ( which I can still do!)

BUT I have no idea how to read a pattern. I was never taught this bit as my mum became ill just as we were about to get on to that bit of my knitting lessons. After she became ill and was no longer around at home to be my Mum, life was too busy and horrible to have time for knitting lessons, so I never really came back to it. Not that there was anyone to teach me. And then I got older, and I still didn't know how. And then I got older still, and I had money to just buy stuff , rather than making it. And, indeed, I had money because I had a good, well paid, time consuming job so I didn't have time to knit anything, even if I HAD known how!

 And then I got even older, and it seemed too late to learn.

But now I have Compostgirl, who is wanting to know how to knit. She is about the age I was, when my Mum taught me. And scary thought, I am about the age my Mum was, when she had her first stroke...

So really, I HAVE had to remind myself of all the stuff I once learned. So I can pass it on to her. But I still don't know how to read a kntting pattern.

So....I guess it is time to find out how to read that pattern, after all. It is never too late, is it?

Any suggestions for good websites?

( and yes I am aware of the subtle and not so subtle interconnections and links to feelings about my Mum and her unwittingly leaving me with unfinished knitting issues, and my need to not replicate the same thing with Compostgirl.)

Monday 16 August 2010

Forum meetup part 2

So today ( Sunday) we had Mrs C and her husband and lovely little daughter (who is 9 weeks old) still with us as they had stayed the night.      

After a slow start and a huge cooked breakfast ( a real treat for us, as we usually have cereal or toast!)  we all wandered off to do various things                       

Little Miss C seemed fascinated by everything and watched the trees, the leaves , the hens, Compostgirl indeed everything with wide eyed amazement!

Mr C wandered around and  took some wonderful photographs for his blog, at one point we thought we might have found a rare butterfly in the pool area but it turned out not to be very rare, after all.

Mrs C and LMC helped to collect eggs and let out the hens. Then Mrs C and I and LMC went down into the wood and just sat and enjoyed it all.

At lunchtime we went to a local pub for an excellent meal and then, after tea and (more) cake we waved off the C family.

Hopefully they and all our other friends from the forum will come again!

Sunday 15 August 2010

Forum Friends visit - Homemade Life forum meetup pt 1

Was great Very Happy

This weekend  we hosted a meetup for some friends from The Homemade Life forum.

Just after lunch on Saturday, Budburst, her husband and lovely daughter ( 5 months old!), Dandelion  and her husband, Mrs C and her husband and lovely 9 week old baby daughter, Elen Sentier and her husband all arrived to spend the day with us having fun, eating cake, talking, admiring the hens, looking around and generally having a great time.

We had originally planned to spend a lot of time in the wood, but it was very wet, so we stayed inside and ate and laughed and chatted and drank lots of tea.

The two babies were adorable! And SO well behaved and interested in all that was going on around them! ( and boy, was there a lot going on!)

During the day the Hens were admired, Guinea pig cuddled (he disgraced himself by weeing on Elen...) Rabbit was stroked, cats were terrified by small people ( why? who knows?)

Dandelion and her husband had to leave after tea but others stayed in the evening and ate a pot luck supper of various dishes we had all contributes ( as was the cake, earlier!)  when lots of cider and wine was also consumed.

Mrs C and family then stayed the night, ensconced ( love that word!) in lovely clean and tidy spare room ( I have been cleaning it out earlier in the week luckily). The original plan was to have people camping but it was just too wet so we offered the guest bedroom to the three of them.

Have had a lovely day and hope all visitors did as well.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Lyrics to John Barleycorn

I have had a few people asking for the lyrics to this song, so here they are...

There were three men came out of the west,
their fortunes for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn must die
They've ploughed, they've sown, they've harrowed him in
Threw clods upon his head
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn was dead

They've let him lie for a very long time,
'til the rains from heaven did fall
And little Sir John sprung up his head
and so amazed them all

They've let him stand 'til Midsummer's Day
'til he looked both pale and wan
And little Sir John's grown a long long beard
and so become a man

They've hired men with their scythes so sharp
to cut him off at the knee
They've rolled him and tied him by the waist
serving him most barbarously

They've hired men with their sharp pitchforks
who've pricked him to the heart

And the loader he has served him worse than that
For he's bound him to the cart

They've wheeled him around and around a field
'til they came unto a barn
And there they made a solemn oath
on poor John Barleycorn

They've hired men with their crabtree sticks
to cut him skin from bone
And the miller he has served him worse than that
For he's ground him between two stones

And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl
and his brandy in the glass
And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl
proved the strongest man at last

The huntsman he can't hunt the fox
nor so loudly to blow his horn
And the tinker he can't mend kettle or pots
 with out a little barley corn


Sunday 1 August 2010

A Milestone!

Coo have just realised I managed to post every day during July!

Not intended but hopefully I will continue to post more often now my life has settled back into a more manageable routine, with no more college, teaching practice etc...

Have spent today having a family/home day, we went out to lunch at a local pub, am hosting a friends get together in the near future so, in the interests of testing out possible Sunday lunch venues for any who come to the meet up and want one, we were forced to go to a local pub and try their lunches. Its a hard job, but someone has to do it I can report it was very nice and has def. been added to the list of places to go.

Then I pottered around doing house work (washing, ironing, cleaning) and washing and chores, some arty stuff with Compostgirl, a bit of crochet and knitting and some harvesting of crops.

Have spent today harvesting Lavender and Wheat (because it is Lammas /Lughnasadh, today) also Beans, tomatoes, shallots, beans, cucumber, peppers, courgettes, spinach, spuds, beans. have you got the idea we have lots of beans?

House smalls delightfully of fresh lavender now and have also made my Lammas corn dolly, a bit green still but its my tradition to do one on this day, and then another with the last proper harvest I do.

So...F1 watched, supper eaten ( home made pate on home made toasted bread with home grown home made soup...yum!) wine now being drunk. Hic!

Compostman watching some time travel film thing on TV with the nice Irish chap from the IT Crowd in it...looks interesting but it goes on too late for me, so I am updating on here, before going to bed.