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 1 January 2014

Happy New Year.

So, a new year starts.

I hope 2014 is better than 2013, which quite frankly was not great for us here at Compost Mansions. Although the weather was better for gardening in 2013, ill health made it harder for both of us to get the things we wanted to achieve, done. 

This trend continued right up until the very end of 2013, as I injured my shoulder and neck muscles just after Christmas and am finding it hard to sit up straight, bend down or turn my head. This just added more misery to the post 'flu aches and pains I was already feeling. So yet again lots of outside jobs have had to be put on hold until I am well enough.  Being ill before Christmas also knocked a hole in my work schedule

Despite this, life has to go on and the chickens need tending, regardless. I had to go outside today in the wind and the rain, to put down pallets in the hen runs, so the poor things had somewhere dry to stand. At 2 pm it was nearly dark! The hens are not impressed by this weather or by the dull days (and who can blame them?) and huddle together in the barn, moaning at me to " make it stop" whenever I go outside.

Blondin the nearly-a-Cockerel dances around them, nearly but not quite brave enough to try his luck with the Big Hens. His  fellow hatchling Treacle (who was formerly called Creosote) is not quite yet mature enough to squat for him and she just runs away, so he is not happy at all.

He is a handsome fellow and has a very melodious crow, and is not (so far) at all aggressive.

While outside this afternoon tending to the hens I looked around through the grey veil of rain onto a totally sodden garden which looks a mess. The bindweed is taking over the veg plot to the point where I am seriously considering razing the existing beds back to grass and starting all over with new ones, elsewhere. The ground is awash and everwhere I walk I leave foot shaped mini ponds behind. 

Gloomy weather makes for gloomy thoughts in my head, which only longer days, outside work (with less rain!) will put right. 

So, having written this post and having had a good look around Blogland, I am off to watch the first episode of the new series of Sherlock - can't wait to settle down in front of the fire and enjoy it :)

And it is STILL raining outside - and now the wind is rising and wuthering around the house.  My thoughts are with all of you and hope you are safe, wherever you are.


  1. Smallholding is the BEST until ill-health hits isn't it? For the first time in over thirty years I have had a few health problems and it has been quite a struggle. And the mud!!!! I'm beginning to think the garden will never recover. HOWEVER we wouldn't be smallholders if we weren't optimists, so onward into 2014 and I hope your health improves.

    1. Gill, absolutely agree with what you say

      - it IS a wonderful life, until ill health hits - I am 52 and Compostman is nearly 62 and it is all getting harder, now.

      He has had perfect health until two years ago - I have struggled since 2001 and kept on despite a chronic illness which has seriously hampered what I want to do ( and need to do, living here - not a choice with food growing and animals depending on me!)

      Hoping we all get healthier - we all need to, to continue with our chosen lifestyle.

  2. I think ill-health has hit several of us over the last few months and this weather certainly isn't helping. Today LMC and I made the most of the sunshine and went out, but she did turn to me at one point and say "mummy, it's so lovely to see that the sun remembers how to shine after all this rain" :-)

    1. Oh she is so wise! :) And so grown up now!

      E and I were recently looking at old photos and remembering when she was here with you and S and so tiny! E in particular remembers playing with her :)

      Lovely to see on your blog how she is such a good big sister to YMC :)

  3. Hi sweetheart

    Sorry to hear you have been in the wars. I have chronic arthritis, scleroderma, osteoaarthritis, a disk out of alignment in my back and chronic auto immune problems including sjorgens syndrome and Raynaud's syndrome and have the antibodies for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus (fortunately it is just the antibodies at the moment). Result is that I am often in difficulty keeping myself going and the pain at times is unlivable. I also have other contributing issues including degenerative hip changes. However I have found that by walking everywhere even when I am in discomfort helps me help myself and the pain from the spasms caused in the muscles as a result of tightness I treat with a spray called Biofreeze which is a chryogenic treatment (goes on cold and warms up) to assist with the muscular pain. They also do a gel which is also good. I use the spray it is £10 a bottle but lasts me a good three months or so. It is not a cure but it does make life more bearable and enables me to move around and get on with what I need to get done and it is based on natural ingredients. With two to three good spray ups a day when things are at their worst helps me no end and stops me from vegetating. I have also found that when the weather changes ie severe cold or rain that is when I am crippled up the worst and it makes me wonder whether barometric pressure actually plays a part in making my symptoms worse. I get my supply of Biofreeze from Boots but I do believe that other chemists also stock this as well as some health shops. It has helped me no end. On the days when I am really bad I also dose up with paracetamol and rest up where necessary - go and rest in bed and have an early night give yourself some tlc. Once the attack is over the energy returns but constant pain is debilitating in itself can cause depression and frustration with your body becuase it is no longer cooperating. Part of the remedy lies in you listening to what your own body needs - it is now different to what you know and as a result you will have to pop into place some self preservation methods and a little self tlc to allow your body to rest and recharge. Better to rest for a couple of hours when needed rather than push it and not be able to do anything as a result. It is frustrating but it does work and even despite my labels I am determined not to be ruled by them. Eating fresh pineapple (if you can) is also very good for you as it has a natural pain killing ingredient called bromelian that does not block your system up like popping pills like paracetamol or ibruprofen and others. Hope this helps and wishing you all the best for 2014.

    love and light



    1. Hi Pattypan

      I have most of your list to cope with as well apart from scleroderma - and yes walking, gardening, all the work I do here helps, even though it really hurts to get going, it makes the pain less bad to be mobile.

      I am not very good at pacing myself and unfortunately have to get most of the work done during school hours, which does not help.
      I don't take any pain killers routinely though, anyway - maybe a few times a year when it all gets too much - I prefer to use essential oils and heat pads. And yes, I do have a rest during the day, most days. With CFS I have to, as you know.

      I get frustrated that I can no longer do all the stuff I used to be able to do - and after 12 years of ill health I get fed up and have a moan.

      But I will look into the Biofreeze - thanks :) Can't eat much pineapple, though - makes me sick.

      And hope you have a better 2014 as well


  4. Happy New Year, I hope you recover soon. Roll on some lighter days and a bit of sunshine to cheer us all up.

  5. It all sounds vile & I do hope 2014 is much, much better for you. Take care. xx

  6. I feel your pain in this - being a chronic-spoonie I often have to think in advance about anything I do, figuring out whether I can keep doing a year, or five, or ten years from now. I hope you manage to recover well, and the wheel of the year is turning to brighter days. Here come the seed catalogues, which only puts a smile on my face heheh.

    Here is to better health in 2014!

    1. Hi there :)

      Thank you - I find the gloom of winter gets me down and of course it is more difficult to get outside and move when the weather is so vile.

      Seed cats being read today - seeds all checkedthrough and order is being written :)

      I did manage a couple of hours in the polytunnel yesterday, which made me feel a little better.

      Are you going to call me about chickens, sometime?

      S xxx

    2. Aye! I called you once and left a message; I think I know what we're getting, but will give a ring to discuss next week. Deities keep me from forgetting!

    3. I didn't get a message? Landline or mobile? Eitherway I didn't get it :(

      Sorry - was not ignoring you!

  7. Oh my! I can totally sympathise with you. I do hope you start to feel better soon, the painful thoughts are often caused by the physical pain you're feeling and the naff weather we're suffering! Spring is just around the corner, try to keep that in mind.
    I too had a painful 2013 and like you I'm hoping 2014 is pain free - or at least less painful.
    I have Narcolepsy & Fibromyalgia and I've found that the one thing you must must do is listen to your body, do not berate yourself on the days when you can't do anything and try to make sure you take some form of pain medication. Plus on those days when you're starting to get down or the sad thoughts are lingering, stick some ear phones in and listen to some toe tapping music. It honestly does help with keeping that black dog at bay!
    You sound so much like myself lol and I suspect there's many more of us out there that maybe expect too much from ourselves.

    Happy New Year to you and I hope the weather brightens up soon.

  8. Hi Linda

    Yep I have CFS and and a Rheumatoid Arthritis like condition - I catch stuff and have a lot of pain and get very tired, and winter is by far the worst time for me.

    I have pulled myself together a bit now - so will try not to moan any more - there are a lot of people a LOT worse off than I.


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