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!
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Monday, 28 November 2011
Watch this space ...
Sunday, 27 November 2011
I really love recording what I have grown and harvested and evaluating how good it all was, deciding what was successful and what was less so, what to try new next year, what to drop off the growing list, what are best for which purposes - eating fresh, freezing, dehydrating, preserving in jam or chutney or what have you.
I love, at this time of year, to look at seed catalogues to see what old friends I need to order and what new seeds might tempt me.
I am a member of the Garden Organic Heratige Seed Library and every year about this time a 2012 seed catalogue drops through my letter box - with a selection of heirloom seeds to seduce and tempt me to order yet more lovely seeds. I also have a lot of seeds I have saved from open pollinated varieties - so I get all sorts of both true breeding and surprise results!
I can't wait for spring 2012... :-) I love sowing seeds !
Saturday, 26 November 2011
Is about to go outside turn a chicken upside down and give its neck a massage...then dose it with Epsom salts...
Oh, we really know how to live, here!
Coco chicken is a greedy guts and is always eating stuff she should not ( Aubiose, long grass, paper...) so she has had an impacted crop several times, but this time she has sour crop - thrush - in her crop. Her crop is squishy and smelly and feels all wrong when I press it so, she is in a separate run, on no food for 24 hours and is having an epsom salt flush ( syringed into her mouth by yours truely) and then fluids only.
Tomorrow and for the next few days I will give her small meals of pellets mixed with natural yoghurt, to see if that will help. If she does not improve within 48 hours OR goes downhill, I will of course take her to see the Vet.
Friday, 25 November 2011
Thursday, 24 November 2011
So...please rehome some rescue hens, they are very rewarding to keep ( although they do need a little more care initially)
Sometimes they are very bald...
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
What a mistake!
How can people do this, every weekend? or even every day? for fun? I was SO sick of shops, and crowds and noise by the end of the day!
Still, I got some good finds from the morning session in the charity shops, several books I wanted, a book I REALLY wanted, which was brand new...(!) plus a few things for the house which have been on my shopping list for some time, but had not got around to looking for. I also managed to find a couple of presents for Compostman and Compostgirl - for Christmas and for Cg's birthday ( next week - eek)
But I was SO glad to get my own car back and drive home - to sit in front of the fire, with a hot cup of tea and my family ( human and cat :-) )
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
I find I am less likely to conform to other people's expectations of me, the older I get.
I aim to end up like the old woman in the poem... by Jenny Joseph, and wear purple and eat sausages and wear my slippers in the rain...
Oh. Wait - I do all that, already lol!
Monday, 21 November 2011
Image taken from Homes4Hens, who are a hen rescue centre and who have been caring for Nora. They are appalled by the conditions and treatment of battery hens and aim to give hens a happy retirement in to a free-ranging life. See also their Fb page
Homes4Hens Battery Hen Rescue
Sunday, 20 November 2011
I grow about 10 or 12 different varieties, mostly heirloom varieties, and am always willing to have a go at growing a new one.
THINKING – I think a lot about a lot of things. Most of the time this is great, sometimes I wake up in the night though and if I can't get back to sleep quickly enough, I start to think about things, all sorts of things, not nasty or worrying things, just stuff - and then I am wide awake!
Saturday, 19 November 2011
Evidence is growing that access to a wildlife-rich environment is essential for children's health and wellbeing
There is a growing and compelling body of evidence that regular and ready access to a wildlife-rich environment is essential for children's health and wellbeing. Recognising – and acting on – a right to that wildlife-rich world is essential for delivering better health, better educational attainment and better social development. Research published in The Lancet shows that, even after other factors are accounted for, living in a green environment makes people healthier.
Governments can and should articulate a new right: that every child and young person has the right to grow up and live in a high-quality, wildlife-rich environment with ready access to the physical and mental health benefits, developmental advantages and play opportunities it affords.
read the full article here
Which is why I do, what I do to help people enjoy and appreciate the natural world around us - playing in woods is good for us!
Friday, 18 November 2011
Wonky carrots, misshapen potatoes and tonnes of food rejected by supermarkets have been used to give 5,000 people a free curry lunch in Trafalgar Square.The event organised by charities and farmers aimed to show that a lot of food binned in the UK could be eaten.
link to article here
Thursday, 17 November 2011
I can be very stubborn. Sometimes too much so! It is a good trait as it makes me very determined to finish the stuff I start, but sometimes it can be a negative thing as I keep on, when I should really stop.
My name ;-)
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
We have a lot of books here. I love reading, always have - was an early and advanced reader as a child and read EVERYTHING - all the time, anywhere. I still do, even today. Compostgirl has inherited that aspect of me I think as she reads fast, recalls what she has read and has a lot of books :-)
We have around a thousand books here ( give or take a few) reference books of all sorts, fiction, non fiction, crafts, cookery, technical textbooks from our various respective careers - so there is always something to read
but always room for more :-)
I am, very. I muse and mull over and turn things over in my mind. This has helped me in many aspects of my life, not least training where being a reflective practitioner is part of the process ( education, holistic therapy, parenthood...!) But sometimes I have to stop myself from "mulling" too much and seeing slights where there were none ...
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
I love the sound of quietness. Sadly Compostgirl shouts a great deal at us and I also now have tinnitus in one ear ( the downside of being nearly 50 I guess)
But I still enjoy the quiet - especially just before dawn and the birds starting to sing.
Monday, 14 November 2011
I can be very patient, when I really HAVE to be. But often I am not.
I like a quiet life - both emotionally and also in terms of sound - I used to enjoy loud music or the sound of racing car engines but as I get older I prefer the sounds of bird song.
Sunday, 13 November 2011
and we did a lot outside in the garden and also had a visit from some neighbours who buy eggs from us - they stayed and chatted about this and that for a bit.
Compostgirl cleaned out the guinea pigs and very proudly showed them off to our neighbours - the piggles are definitely getting friendlier with people!
We obviously stopped at 11 am to stand, and bow our heads and keep silent - thinking about all those who have died fighting.
Some interesting discussions with an nearly 11 year old Compostgirl about wars and morals and suchlike - some very interesting ideas came up!
Saturday, 12 November 2011
I try to keep optimistic about life - sometimes it is very hard as life has not been very kind - but I keep on trying to be a " glass half full" sort of person, rather than having a rather a pessimistic " glass half empty" view of life.
I am very organised. Enough said, I think!
Friday, 11 November 2011
Thursday, 10 November 2011
Cider from 2010. Some being drunk - well we have to test it, don't we?
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
She had been poorly since Sat, and had been living inside in a cosy box in our kitchen. She seemed to have improved a lot yesterday and I was quite hopeful she would recover. But then she died this morning.
I am very sad :-( But I am mainly sad because I thought I had managed to get her well again, only to have her die, which is the really sad bit - after all she would have been dead 2 years ago if I had not got hold of her
f rom the free range egg farm.
She was an ex commercial ginger hybrid hen who, because I took her on, had nearly 2 more years of a good life, so really it is not too sad that her life has finally come to a natural end iyswim
She was not an ex battery hen, no...but an ex commercial free range hen ( oh yes, THEY need the same rescue plan as well as ex battery hens - they get killed at 12 -18 months as well...but sadly are often overlooked because of the even worse plight of their ex battery hen sisters.)
And actually ex free range hens don't neccessarily have that much better a life! OK they are not imprisoned in an A4 sized cage, but still can have had a very limited life and indeed Coriander was in a terrible state when we got her.
But...what a 2 years of extra life she got! Living with us, in a wood, life of riley ( who WAS he?) , petted, loved and pampered....chasing cats and squirrels, dust bathing, raids into the house, raids into the veg patch - what a great life...
She has been buried on the edge of the wood in a place she used to like to dustbathe.
RIP Coriander hen - much missed, never forgotten
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Monday, 7 November 2011
We were all very upset by this, but after some time had passed Compostgirl began asking if we could have some more, as she is very fond of them as pets ( as am I)
So I contacted Hoppety House Rescue to see if Mandy had any piggles needing re homing, and she had lots!
We ended up with four females, all a social group who needed a new forever home.
So, meet Fudge
We have had them three weeks now and they are adorable! So friendly and playful :-)
Sunday, 6 November 2011
We have had an amazing apple harvest here this year, so much so that we had to split the juicing into two sessions - the first for the apples which were destined for juice and the second session for the cider making apples.
So after I came home I spent the rest of a very hot afternoon filling up bottles and pasteurising them, 13 bottles at a time.
Saturday, 5 November 2011
She has been a very robustly heathly, delightful companion hen, a good egg layer and ( as often with generic
"ginger" commercial hybrids) a real character and a very sweet personality.
She has been seriously moulty for the last 5 weeks or so, and resistant to being picked up or checked over, but I have managed to catch her a few times and check she was ok .
However this morning when Compostman went to let the hens out into the wood, she was obviously not ok - she could hardly walk and was very slow on her feet.
He brought her in to me ( the fact he could catch her shows how poorly she was as she previously has only ever let me catch her!) and when I examined her she had a very distended abdomen and was very thin and also very cold.
I gave her a warm bath with lavender essential oil added - to help ease any egg bound issues - and then put her in a box in the kitchen with cat food, water and a comfy dark straw nest to settle down int at one end of the box. She has eaten a little and drunk a little but has not passed an egg ( I hoped the warm water would stimulate this as it has worked in the past with other hens) or done the huge poo I hoped to see ( from previous experience this sometimes is also the problem!)
I fear she has egg peritonitis or a tumour, which every other commercial " ginger" hybrid I have owned has eventually died from :-(
At the moment she is asleep in her comfy box, in the kitchen, but it is not a natural looking sleep and from her general demeanor I fear she will slip quietly into a deeper, terminal sleep in the night. But she might recover and, as she seems in no distress, I am prepared to leave her overnight to see what will happen.
I have gentled her and stroked her and told her what a very good hen she is - and she crooned a little at me and nibbled my finger.
I will leave her tonight and if she is still in the same state tomorrow morning I will (very sadly and regretfully) of course kill her quickly and painlessly.
I HATE this aspect of keeping livestock - BUT if I want to keep animals I have to accept the responsibility of ending their lives "when it is time". That means if they are ill, injured OR ready to be killed for eating.
Doesn't mean I have to like doing it, though!
And I think, if I ever get to the point where I no longer feel sad enough to care about doing it - that is the point I should give up keeping livestock.
(Oh and from bitter experience I know the vet can't help her - I have now seen enough of these hens (sadly) to know that they will either pass an egg or die very quickly - and the vet is not available until Mon. If she is ok until Mon I will take her to the vet :-)
The art of making objects using salt dough has become very popular in recent years with the only requirements to get started in this folk art hobby are flour, salt, water and basic equipment found in the kitchen. This is how I do it and how I teach others to do it at my craft workshops
Things you need
a baking tray (covered with a thin layer of butter/oil to stop the decorations sticking)
paints and brushes (you can mix the paints with some pva glue)
a cocktail stick (for making the hole in the decorations)
A bowl to mix your dough
A rolling pin for producing smooth sheets of dough
Toothpicks or a small pointed knife for cutting and indenting details
An assortment of pastry cutters and moulds for decorative shapes
Basic Salt Dough
2 Cups of Plain Flour (not self-raising)
1 cup Fine grained plain salt
1/2 cup water at room temperature
Veg oil ( opt.)
Mix the salt and flour in a large bowl and then add the water. Knead the mixture for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. (The addition of 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil improves suppleness of the dough making it easier to work with). Cover with cling wrap to stop the dough drying out and let the dough sit for 30 minutes before using.
The dough is now ready to use. Fresh dough is best for modelling. However, if you find you have any leftover dough it can be wrapped in cling wrap or an airtight container and stored in a cool place for a few days.
When finished and happy with your results you can air-dry or bake your project in the oven.
MAKE SURE YOU MAKE A HOLE IF YOU WANT TO HANG IT UP!!
Ensuring your projects are correctly dried ensures they will last a long time so it is important that this is not hurried. Air-drying is suitable for flat, small pieces or for coloured pieces where baking will alter the colour of the finished project. Oven drying is the most popular method and requires careful attention to accurate temperature control to avoid burning. Bake for approx. 2 hours using a low temperature setting 50-70C for the first half hour then increase temperature slowly to 90-100C and cook until the piece is uniform in colour.
The dough is cooked when it hard and sounds hollow when tapped. Turn the oven off and leave in oven until cool. Any burns can be sandpapered off with fine- medium grade sandpaper. An emery board or small file can be used for delicate or intricate sanding on objects.
When thoroughly dry sand any imperfections. At this stage you can paint your projects then seal with a final coat of varnish. Your finished projects can be left unpainted but they must be sealed on all sides (including underneath) with varnish, gloss or matt, for protection otherwise they will not last long when exposed to air.
Using a polyurethane varnish on food coloured models instead of water- based varnish helps to intensify the colour.
Also, for the more impatient or short of time...
Microwave Salt Dough recipe
4 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
1-1/2 cups of hot water
Roll the dough thinly. Using a microwave-safe plate (not paper or cardboard), microwave a plate of your ornaments for 1 to 4 minutes, increasing the time by 1 minute increments and keeping a close eye on the microwave as the ornaments bake. Suggestions are to cook on High, but I have found medium or low, and slowly, gives the best result. Too rapid baking causes the objects to bubble up and distort. You also don't want to risk a fire! Let the ornaments cool completely before decorating, as before.
I have tried both of these recipies, the microwave one didn't work for me at all.
After making and drying out.
Friday, 4 November 2011
Terry the installer was really quick, efficient and cleaned up the ( very minimal) mess he made. Would recommend him to anyone!
Thursday, 3 November 2011
back in July - and now look at it at the end of August!
A lovely new wooden floor! and paint! and skirting boards! and no dirt!
We are still not back in the room at this stage, but it wasn't going to be much longer :-)
The plastic wrapped object is the new Burley Brampton woodburner, waiting to be installed - it was actually not installed until the begining of September ( a hint as to when we eventually moved back in to our main room)
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Since my last post in July, we have had so much going on!
The new chimney breast built and plastered, we painted all the walls, ordered the new woodburner, booked to have the new woodburner installed and in the meantime Compostman got on with laying the new wooden flooring and new skirting boards etc. This took some time to both source and lay - we wanted FSC wooden flooring and it was actually rather hard to find some - Homebase/Wicks/B and Q didn't seem to have any and so we had to do a bit of searching online for a supplier.
Eventually we found a firm and ordered what we needed. It is SO lovely!
New paintwork colour scheme is pretty good as well ;-) Will post up some pictures tomorrow
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
But...I have had a very long and tiring and stressful day today; I am still feeling very unwell and also my longstanding back injury is flaring up; it is very late and I am very tired...so today the post will just be one of announcing I am hoping to join in...
I may also this month even manage to finish of the August alphabet post which I ( cough) still have yet to complete ( sorry Chiots Run!)
I can hope...!