Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live in Herefordshire with Compostman and teenage daughter Compostgirl. We have just under 4 acres of land which contains a woodland, polytunnel, small orchard, garden and veg plot. We grow our own organic produce and make lots of cider, wine, jam and chutney. We also make a lot of compost. We share our lives with Chickens, Cats, Guinea Pigs and assorted wildlife. We try our best to live a more self reliant lifestyle, growing and making and fixing and mending and re-using and re-cycling stuff, if we can.
I used to be a Research Scientist, but that was many years ago. I now work as a freelance environmental educator/writer/lecturer/Forest School practitioner and community artist; I also spend a lot of time volunteering as a Master Composter, Master Gardener, Love Food Hate Waste cookery demonstrator and hens@home mentor. Doing all this allows me the privilege of helping people have fun outdoors and live more enjoyable and sustainable lives.
This blog is a record of what I have been up to from day to day. I might write about something I have done in the garden, an article I have written for a magazine, the latest batch of chutney I have made, a training course I have attended or "just" my daily routine of cats, chickens, compost and mud.
I hope you find something to interest you in The Compost Bin, remember there are lots of "How to" guides about all sorts of stuff and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!
Saturday, 28 August 2010
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
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
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...
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
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
Am now lying down again (3 pm) , having exhausted all energy for the moment.
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 )
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
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
Thursday, 19 August 2010
oh, and rightful pride, in a job well done!
I am so proud of her and her achievement!
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
Have done washing, four loads, out, dried and put away! This for a day which the Met Office said would be wet and cold, well it was 27 here today with a hot SW breeze!
Have picked 15 Kg (!) of toms which are sitting waiting for me to do something with them. Have tidied up and done some mending and ironing ( yuck! I loath ironing! If I was going to EVER pay someone else to do work for me, it would be ironing.)
Have been to Ledbury and got various stuff from many small shops, which took 2 hours because all the parking spaces are taken up by summer visitors....so a 30 min trip took far longer...still, not as bad as when The Big Chill is on, Ledbury is full to bursting then and I avoid it. But it is great for the traders and lovely for the visitors, so I don't mind ;-)
Have also had to deal with a very stroppy CG today...finally made her sit down and actually DO the purse she was moaning about not sewing...she tried for a whole 5 mins yesterday to stitch it up and, because it was a bit hard (as she has not done it before ) she got cross. With me. And then threw a tantrum. Which lasted 3 hours, until bedtime.
So today I told her to sit down, be quiet and actually listen and do it the way I was suggesting and try it for more than 5 mins. She did, it worked, it was easy and she is now happy because she has made her purse.
We then spent a happy further hour making various other sewing stuff. She is really pleased because this is the very first thing she has designed, cut out, sewn and finished all by her self.
I am very impressed with her achievement!
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
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
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
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.
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, 10 August 2010
CM made us all yummy pizza and I made us yummy soup for our lunch, then went to look at the Oats being Combined, over the road, which entertained the children no end, they then watched my DVD of "Tales from the green valley" about a 16th C farm year and saw how it would have been done 400 years age...
After the friends had gone home CG and I had a lovely hour doing embroidery, she has not tried this before and has already started on a very good sampler and was most pleased by the whole process.
I have now (just!) finished potting the chutney, and have just emptied the dehydrator for today.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
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
Monday, 2 August 2010
Sunday, 1 August 2010
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.