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!

Friday 28 December 2012

Happy 1st Henniversary Yarrow and Marjoram hens

 One year ago, today, I collected 7 very sad looking ex battery hens from the Hereford BHWT rescue hub.

Two looked ok ish but the other 5 were very bare and very sad. They were virtually bald and in shock and two were seriously injured - one with a broken, trailing wing and one with a leg she was holding up off the ground with a crabbed claw and a horrible limp.

We restored all to good health and they had several months of lovely life here as proper free range hens. Two (Attilla and Coriander) were given to a friend who lives nearby. (Sadly she lost them in a fox attack in April)

The other five ex battery hens stayed here, scratching in the wood and garden with my other hens but in April Mrs Fox and her cubs killed 3 of them, along with my six pure breed hens 

So I was left with only three hens - two of the Christmas 2011 ex battery hens plus Nutmeg, very old, very wise hen, hand reared by us in early 2008.

In May 2012 I added five more ex barn hens  and still have four of them, and the seven ginger hens live as a  happy flock and are a delight to look after  - such sweet hens and all such characters.

So today, from the original 7 ex battery hens a year ago I still have Yarrow ( aka Limpy Chicken) and Marjoram - rescued from 18 months of unimaginable cruelty - of being in a tiny cage in virtually constant artificial light (except for an hour or so of darkness), unable to flap, stretch or dustbathe - no scratching in litter or laying in a nest or roosting, never mind digging in the soil for a worm or feeling the sunshine on their feathers. Caged, egg laying machines.

Consigned, at the end of their economic egg laying life ( still laying well, just not well enough for the battery system)  to certain death and being made into ( for example) cat meat. And then kind people rescued them from this fate and took them to a barn near Hereford for people like us to take home and love.

 Yarrow the day after rescue.

I HATE the cage bird system and I believe that giving an ex caged hen even one minute ( hour, day, week, month)  which holds love, kindness and freedom for her, more than she EVER had in her previous existance, must make it a worthwhile thing to do for her . When we adopt a caged hen it has to have a good impact on her, even if she only lives a few days in freedom and comfort and love.

Marjoram the day after rescue

Marjoram hen is still going strong, bright and beautiful and laying an egg for us every other day, even now.

Yarrow hen is now slowly "winding down"  - there is nothing obviously wrong with her, but she has had a year of health and freedom and love - and for an ex cage bird that means a lot.


Happy Henniversary my lovely girls and fond thoughts for your feathery sisters who died in April in The Great Fox attacks   - Comfrey ( aka Flappy chicken), Cumin, Marigold, Attilla and Coriander.

May your days be filled with mealworms, corn, chasing the cats, finding worms and snoozing in the barn.


  1. How beautiful they look now under your loving care! Thank you for giving them a second chance.

  2. What a beautiful story. I hope that you have been blessed for your kindness in rescuing these birds in need. We rescue birds here in Utah, too, and absolutely refuse to eat eggs from the grocery, even if they are marketed as "free range." Eggs from home, where you know that your birds have been treated with love & respect, is the only way to go.

    Happy New Year to you!

  3. We rehomed a dozen hens last week they are looking better already but not keen on going to bed and require lifting in .....any tips?

    Otherwise they are doing well some have even figured out the nest box :)

    Pleased your girls are doing ok

  4. A lovely tale.

    Whatever we do for these beautiful birds and for however long we can do it, it gives their lives a little bit of sun, happiness and love.

    That they adapt so quickly to living the lives they should have had all along shows how intelligent they are and that anyone can subject them to the lives they have lived previously shows how cruel mankind can truly be.

    Your girls are a testament to you and your love and good treatment of them, and I'm sure the eggs they give you, however infrequently, and the joy of watching them live their busy little chickeny lives is thanks enough for you.

    Sue xx

  5. tpals, Julia, the squirrel family and Sue

    I feel every day is a blessing with rescue hens :-)

    My remaining two are really enjoying the treats!

  6. Your hens are beautiful! How wonderful to be able to rescue battery caged chickens and give them a life of love! :)

  7. That's a lovely story although the foxes are a problem for you.

  8. Bless them and bless you for helping them. They look so much more healthy now.
    We've recently rescued 10 hens. 3 have since died but the others are looking feisty as ever so fingers crossed they'll do well.



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