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 2 January 2013

Doing some outside work, at last!

Today was dry, all day ! ! !  And we had sunshine ! ! ! This is the sunset we had at 4.45 ! ! !

Sorry about the excessive use of the exclaimation marks,  but for us here this is little short of miraculous - it has rained every day for months now and most days have been gloomy and dull as well.

So I took advantage of the dry weather to clean out the hen house and we finally did something about the rat "issue" which has arisen in the Mega Hen Pen (MHP).

The MHP has pallets down on the ground in two corners for the feathery laydies to stand on and keep their feet warmer. It also has a lot of wood chip down on the floor, for the girls to scratch about in. We regularly rake the chip up and replace it  ( we make a lot of wood  chip from felling trees here) and the used chippings eventually make fabulous compost .

But it has rained so much here that the ground is saturated and the wood chippings in the run are wet. Indeed there is a severe problem around here with ground water rising up, even though we are on top of a hill

Also the rats have been burrowing in to the MHP and hiding under the pallets, and although they have not done any harm, apart from forcing us to remove the food from the run at night, I do not like the idea of rats in with my hens!

So today we also removed the pallets , which were giving the nasty rats somewhere to hid under inside the run. We have dug out and filled in the tunnels and found a nest which we dealt with. I have sanitised the run with Nettex worm oocist powder ( I have just finished worming the hens, so this was due) and we have put down a thick layer of Aubiose, straw and dry leaves for the girls to rootle about in.  They seemed very pleased with their new floor coverings, it is much drier and more absorbant for them under foot and hopefully there are less places for the rats to hide under so they will not bother coming in the run again - there is no food there except during the morning when the hens are around the feeder and they keep the rats away.

The hen house is now also clean and warm and sweet smelling - I must admit I have just been adding more bedding on top so as to maintain a deep litter system over the last 3 weeks, due to illness and the appalling weather we have had, so it really was well overdue a deep clean!

Update at 9 pm tonight - Tabitha Cat brought a very large Rat inside the house - to show us - dead, fortunately and we praised her a lot as she, the most timid and smallest of the cat family has actually caught one of the nasty things :-)  The other two looked on in amazement but did not stir from their cosy beds!


  1. Cats are so contrite. So glad you have everything under control.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Very well done Tabitha! We have also, for the first time, been dealing with a rat visiting our compost bin. We removed all the fresh compost and put it on top of another bin with finished compost. Then watered around that bin with dilute disinfectant. The now empty bin which it had been visiting, had rat poison put inside. It has stopped visiting but don't know if it has died or lost interest. Going to move the bins onto solid foundations and see if that stops it/them coming back. Never had them before.

  3. Our hen enclosure was saturated too - not such a nice smell!
    Rats are not an issue for us as we keep birds of prey so if they popped up in their enclosures they'd be eaten lol. The hens are housed next to a Hawk as well (they can't see each other) so I think it offers the hens some protection from them.
    Your hens look lovely and clean - I've never heard of Aubiose straw, is it better for hens?
    Wait till your cats bring you home a live rabbit :/ Mind you a rabbit is preferable to a rat huh lol


  4. Well done Tabitha! She was obviously inspired by the decent weather! Jx

  5. Charlie,the carpet snake lives in our chook house and he looks after the mice and bush rats and has never attacked a grown chookie (we keep any young ones in a separate very well wired area overnight). We also get rats occasionally in the compost and the kookaburras deal with them. We also get cane toads in the compost but I deal with them myself because of the poison glands they have. Joy

  6. Well done Tabitha.

    And what a gorgeous photo.

    How lovely not to have rain!

    Sft x

  7. I love that photo it seems to have everything rolled into one dark storm clouds, bright sunshine and sunset.


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.