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!

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Treacle returns to the coop

Well the day before yesterday she had climbed out of the box ( which has been inside the downstairs bathroom since Fri as it has a tiled floor, is warm and easy to clean!)and she walked a few steps AND stood for about 20 mins without "flopping down"

Yesterday she was walking with a slight limp and flapping her wings and I let her outside and she foraged for half an hour, looking normal.

so today (Wednesday morning) I put her back in with the others and she is now fully recovered and laying, again


Sunday 23 January 2011

Update on Treacle hen

Poor Treacle still cannot walk far, she can stand but if she tries to move her left leg she drops back down. She actually looks quite perky and friendly for a moulty hen, mostly they seem to get very grumpy!

She IS improved today and stood up of her own accord to get some food, but seems happiest in her box of straw, sitting in a comfortable ( I guess) position. She is still eating, drinking, pooing and seems fine in herself, and can stand on her legs now for 5 mins at a time, and had enough spirit to peck at an annoying Cassi kitten tonight....

I did wonder if she had just got chilled, as it has been so very cold here, but the others are all fine and she is normally one of the top hens.

I am certain it is due to some kind of injury: I think Queenie the Blue Orpington ( top hen) has been having a go...her fighting tactic is to sit on the other hen.....!

Friday 21 January 2011

Injured hen

Have Treacle the hen in a box next to the aga as she has somehow injured herself and although I can't see any obvious sign of injury, she can only stand/walk for a short time and then sinks to the ground....wings slightly outstretched

She has been like it for 3 days now and has actually improved a bit as she can now walk and stand up. She is also a bit hunched over anyway because she is moulting a bit

Apart from this she is well and happy, eating, drinking, BEABT and pooing etc, so am hoping a few days in the warm being immobile may help the muscles to heal.

I had a hen like this once before, where she landed hard off a fence, I did the same thing and she recovered....
Treacle is a good hen, the best layer and a very friendly personality.... Crying or Very sad and I am hoping bringing her inside will keep her muscles warm, as she is not going to heal well sitting on the cold ground and also she was not getting to the food as the others just pushed her aside...

If she continues to improve day by day and can start to walk around that will be good. If at any point she looks distressed I will kill her.

Although I name my hens, and am very keen on them, and recognise their individual nature, I tend not to anthropomorphise very much now . I used to, but after so many deaths, sadly it becomes too much ... Crying or Very sad

Tuesday 18 January 2011

More about Wassailing the Orchards

Taken from the Leominster Morris website

The words comes from the Anglo Saxon 'was hael' meaning good health - literally 'be whole'. Ella Leather in 'The Folk-lore of Herefordshire' (published 1912) refers to the custom of lighting bonfires on Twelfth Night, with associated ceremonies, and called locally 'wassailing'. She quotes the Gentleman's Magazine (1791) describing the event. In Herefordshire, wassailing has long been associated with morris dancers and mummers,  THE LEOMINSTER MORRIS uphold this tradition.
The Wassail was the first event they revived after the side was re-formed in 1983. That first Herefordshire Wassail of the new era took place in the orchard of Sandy & Eileen Thompson at Tudor House, Yarpole.

The Wassail begins by gathering at a given watering hole, where flaming torches are prepared & distributed to the public, whence the side leads the crowd of followers (usually about 200) to the orchard. Toast is soaked in cider, then placed in the fork of the tree chosen to represent the orchard. Cider is then sprinkled about the roots of the tree. Next, the Herefordshire Lantern is ignited: this is a beribboned thorn-cage stuffed with straw on a pole. It represents the sun reborn, and shows why this ancient ceremony took place at this time of year. At the midwinter, the coldest & darkest part of the year, people encouraged the return of light & warmth, and by so doing they performed an affirmation of their faith that it would be so. Next, the 13th fire is lit and immediately stamped out; the Fire of Eternal Renewal or the Judas Fire. This is the sign for the simultaneous lighting of the ring of twelve fires, The Wassail Song is sung by THE LEOMINSTER MORRIS under the branches of the tree and two or three dances danced there too.

The we all go back in procession to the meeting place where THE LEOMINSTER MORRIS perform the Mummers Play. The text for which is taken from several local sources, and enlivened by individual members adding topical references or variations to their parts. More dances follow, then it is in to the bar for music, song, dance and drink!

The Wassail songs are spoken or sung.

(The Butler)
Old apple tree we wassail thee,
And hope that thou wilt bear.
For Lord doth know where we shall be,
Till apples come another year.
To bloom well and to bear well,
So merry let us be.
Let every man take off his hat,
And shout out to thee,

(Wassailers' response)
Old apple tree we wassail thee,
And hope that thou will bear,
Hat fulls, cap fulls, three bushel bag fulls,
And a little heap under the stairs.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Glass painting

Finished painting my candle jars yesterday. Will fill them with candle sometime this week. Am rather pleased with them

The one on the right which is just an outline is being filled with a coloured wax mix, the rest will probably be a single colour candle.

I did the butterflies from a template, free hand but based on a template in a glass book but the others were sort of generally out of my head.

probably derived from something I have seen though!

Took me ages to draw the shape on paper, so I could put it inside and then use the outliner paint...glass is a right so and so to paint on!

Compostman liked my colourful take on a Green Man best. I am in the middle of designing a "traditional" Green Man to transfer to a larger candle jar at the moment.

Saturday 8 January 2011


Tonight the Compost Family went to The Big Apple Wassailing. For those who don't know, Wassailing is where you go into an apple orchard on or near 12th Night, and bless the trees and scare away evil spirits and ask the trees to be fertile and give lots of fruit in the coming year. You do this by pouring a libation of cider around the trees and making a noise ( tin cans, drums and, in our area, shotguns fired up into the trees...) also cake or toast is soaked in cider and put in the branches of the central tree. Bonfires also feature in the ritual.

Around here we have our own version, we have a torchlit procession to the chosen Orchard,

The Wassail Ceremony

Me lighting one of the 12 bonfires in a circle around the central Apple Tree.

Fire poi.

 St George and the Dragon. The Mumming!

A dead Dragon

Reviving those slayed by St George...The Dragon, The Black Prince and The Egyptian King...miracles worked by The Doctor!

Then we all go back to the pub/house/ barn to drink cider, eat hot pork and apple rolls and watch the Morris men perform a Mumming.

Its wonderful.:-)

It was stunning here tonight, the New Moon and Venus and all the stars in the sky were so clear... like jewels...Where we are we have minimal light pollution so were able to see loads of stars, and Compostgirl stopped and stargazed for a long time and was able to point out various constellations which was impressive for a 10 yr old....!

I love where we live!

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Tom Cat and Cassi Cat find a new food group....

Whats this then?

Not cat food that is for sure?


Mmm looks tasty!

Yum yum!

This really happened by the way, Cassi ate raw sprout leaves from off the floor and also loves cooked mushrooms and mashed potato.

Monday 3 January 2011

The ongoing HUGE chore - Living area renovations.

As I think I might have mentioned, Compostman is in the middle of demolishing our main living room.

He has dug up and re concreted various bits of the floor and has recently been taking down the 1993 addition of a stone chimney breast around the woodburner. Nice though it is and local stone though it is, it is not in keeping with our 1906 brick cottage!
It also takes up vast amounts of floor and wall space and makes the room look very dark.

So it has been coming down over the holiday season. Fortunately it is all just cosmetic, although very substantially built!

We have will be taking delivery of a skip for the large amount of mortar  and have a home for a lot of the stone and will also be keeping some for our own future needs.

Sunday 2 January 2011

One Big Chore for Sunday

Today my OBC was to continue to clear out the Polytunnel and clean up posts, trays etc ready for the new growing season.

I had, as always, feathery lady help! This is Coriander she is an ex commercial flock hen and is always very interested in what I am up to and keen to peck around!

Here are Queenie and Nutmeg, both have recently undergone a full moult and all their feathers fell out. What a daft time of year to do so! They now look splendid in their new clothes though.

Here is Vanilla Cream Legbar, looking very smart indeed.

All the hens are on the alert in these pictures because I was also being "helped" by Cassiopea Cat.

For some reason the hens are very bothered by her presence; I wonder if they think she is a Mink?

Cassi investigating the hutch where Peter Rabbit and Crystal  live.

Saturday 1 January 2011

A dose of reality for a New Year and the idea of One Big Chore a day

So. A New Year. 2011.

I don't do resolutions and all that stuff...if I want to do something I do it and I do it when *I* want, not on a certain date dictated to by the calendar/the media etc....

BUT this year I have decided to try to be a little more balanced in the way I work during 2011, so as to spread out my work load. Several friends have commented that I seem to do "a lot" and that maybe , sometimes, just sometimes, I overdo it a bit..(Moi? Overdo it? Surely not?)

Well, actually, yes I do. So much of what I do seems like fun, not work, so I don't notice how shattered I am until I have finished. I am not good at doing nothing and never have been!

But, I am aware that as I get older my health gets worse. My immune system is still pretty poor. I still have CFS/ME and although I am so much better than I EVER thought I would be, if I overdo things I suffer the consequences of days and days of fatigue and I seem to catch the weirdest illnesess...like the viral labyrinthitis. The fact that I am a Type "A" hyperachiever doesn't make resting up any easier, either. Lol.

So. I have to recognise these facts. I have to start pacing myself and factoring in some rest time during the day, so as to be able to keep on, keeping on.

So I am going to try to only do "One Big Chore" (OBC) a day, either outside or inside, depending on the weather. Obviously I have a family, a house and business to run and animals to feed etc and they need doing everyday, but apart from that I will try to do only do one chore which is the sort of thing that takes a couple of hours to do. Things like spring cleaning one room, or washing all the windows, or mucking out the MegaHenPen or digging out a number of compost bins and spreading the compost. BIG CHORES. You know the sort of thing.

Previously I would do One Big Chore (OBC)and then think "ooo still time to do ..." and get stuck in to another OBC, even though really I needed to go and sit down with a cup of tea for half an hour and rest. I also want, need to make time to do some of the craft things I so love.

Today my OBC was mucking out the Mega Hen Pen, composting all the stuff and refilling up the floor with bark. I also put down a couple more pallet patios for the feathery ladies and generally cleaned and primped the hen run. I had help from Compostgirl and later on Compostman , so it only took 3 hours rather than the usual 5.

And then I had a sit down, and a cup of tea and I wrote this post.

See, I CAN "do" resting and pacing, honest! :-))

I hope you had a very good 1st Jan