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Updated: Tuesday 30 December 2014
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Life as been busy for us at home - I've been working longish hours and have had long journeys to work. Our young people continue to keep us busy- having four children very close together has often meant lots of attention needed all at the same time and I had in my foolishness thought that the times when they were young were going to be the hardest!! I had no idea what was in store for us.
Start of the 2014 preparations- onion and garlic bedLast year despite my best efforts, my trips down to the allotment were few and far between.
You've guessed right - one of the plans for this year is to spend more time down there. I really find it very therapeutic to be there - away from home, work and back to the simple things in life. Children, work, life will just have to wait - I need my 'Me ' time and the allotment so fills this need.
Over the Christmas holidays, hubby and I had planned to get to grips with the allotment and make it ours again as opposed to the wild wilderness it has become.
I'm rather ashamed at how bad it was!
So over the last couple of days we have both been down digging sometimes together and sometimes separately and how lovely it was too. One of children asked recently what were we going to do when they had all left home- ' as you don't have a lot in common!'. Well how wrong they are - and we are trying hard to spend more time together - and the allotment is a great place to start! Just as long as we don't get like other allotment couples - some of which can be heard bickering away very loudly at times!
This is my neighbours plot - we think he works overnight on it - it always looks good!We divide our work Mr H is in charge of structures layout and buildings and general up keep .We agree on what we are growing and I am responsible for sowing and planting. It seems to work well for us !
So lots of digging being done - the soil is lovely now after years of applying manure and lots of digging. Even after all the rain we have had, it's an absolute delight - its dark, crumbly and lovely .
When we first started it was full of stones, rocks and flints! It's just the weeds we need to keep on top off and that's an on going battle. Even after a couple of days digging things have improved so much.
It was a very cold and frosty start yesterday!It was soo cold after yesterdays digging I was inspired to make some "new" wellie socks from old woollen jumpers destined for the charity shop ( sorry charity shop- I have sent you other things !!!) . There are lots of sites giving instructions and I had to look at them all for inspiration. Beware some sites offer instructions for leg warmers instead of socks! It was my toes that were cold not my legs!!
Tubular socks made from woollen jumper sleevesEventually I went for the tubular ski sock idea, using the sleeves and the ribbed cuff as the sock top. I tried the sleeve on inside out and pinned the garment so that it fitted around the leg, ankle, around the foot and toe area. I have made two pairs a shorter pair and a longer pair and I am so hoping I don't have cold feet next time I go digging. I was on a roll and I had previously thought about upcycling mittens so whilst the jumper was there and the machine primed I also made these:
Mittens made from up-cycled woollen jumper sleevesSo hopefully no cold hands either!
I am already starting to plan what I will grow and watching Nigel Slater on his new years day cooking programme ( I do enjoy watching his programmes ) he has further inspired me to get planning. So onto the Internet I go! I love looking for new seed packets and deciding what I will grow so that's what I'm up to for the next few days ! I'm so glad to be back and have missed talking to you and catching up with old friends! Looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings !!
Welcome back to Hen Corner! As featured in Country Living Magazine We hope that you’ve had a great Christmas and are now looking forward to the exciting journey that 2014 will bring. Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the things we’ve been up to throughout the year but […]
Country Living Spring Fair 2014 at the Business Design Centre, London Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, London. N1 0QH. Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/spring/page.cfm/link=1#BhZDo6Vp787jXByZ.99 Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, London. N1 0QH. Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/spring/page.cfm/link=1#BhZDo6Vp787jXByZ.99 Win Tickets and Discount Code We are really pleased to have been invited to do a series of […]
We have had glorious weather over the past few days, thankfully a weekend, and I have been out and about in the garden a lot, which has been lovely. The chickens have enjoyed almost uninterrupted mooching and digging time in the borders, and sunbathing on the lawn. I've had endless...
As some of you may remember I was left a small inheritance by my late Aunt Betty and I decided I would use the money to do a couple of craft courses
I have had a try at needle felting before but with only limited success, so when I saw professional children's illustrator, toy maker and needle felter Gretel Parker was going to run a one day workshop at a venue not that far down the Wye Valley from me, I booked immediately. You may be familiar with Gretel as she has featured in several Mollie Makes magazines and is on the cover of this month's magazine with some very lovely felted cats. I have also followed her blog for some time so I was delighted to get a place on her course.
So, on Saturday morning we ventured down the Wye Valley to Cinderhill Farm where Gretel was holding the Moon Gazing Hare workshop.
Compostman dropped me at the Farm in brilliant sunshine and I was greeted warmly by Deborah (the owner) and then it was into the house to meet Gretel and be offered hot drinks and the first of many slices of delicious cake. Cinderhill Farm sell amazing home made food from their on site shop The Pie House and all the food I ate there was utterly delicious.
Gretel introduced us to the art of needle felting and the tools we would use and then showed us the moon gazing hare she had made. She demonstrated how to get started on the body and we then started making our own version by choosing the colour roving we wanted to use.
There were five of us attending the workshop so we got lots of help and personalised attention throughout the entire day.
I chose this lovely soft mid brown colour
Having made the body and added the head
we were shown how to make the legs and tail...
and then how to attach them to the main body
We had lots of breaks for drinks and the most delicious lunch with lamb from Cinderhill Farm. You can buy this lamb stew as a filling for a pie :)
Delicious blackcurrant mouse to follow.
After lunch we started making ears - I went for ears lying down as in the more traditional moon gazing hare.
We were all very quiet as we concentrated on our needles. We did chat during the day, though and I really enjoyed the other participant's company.
Gretel brought along some of her shop supplies - as well as advance copies ( hot off the press!) of her new book on needle felted models.
My Hare looks up at the ceiling - she is called Serena.
We were shown how to add eyes and embroider a nose and how to finish off our hares with a final very thin layer of roving which we then spent a VERY LONG TIME needling down to get it as smooth as possible - this is a very time consuming bit and I carried on at home later.
Five very different Hares :) Serena is on the far right hand side.
At the end I purchased a copy of Gretel's new book, which she was kind enough to sign for me, and also some more of the lovely roving.
We finished at about 5 pm and Compostman collected me to go home - but before we left we purchased some sausages and sausage rolls from The Pie Shop and said hello to the lambs, goats, chickens and cats of Cinderhill Farm. The sausage rolls were eaten for lunch the next day and were really yummy!
I can recommend Gretel as a teacher - she was lovely and kind and very very good at instructing a group with a mix of complete beginners as well as slightly more experienced people. I am now much more confident that I could actually make a recognisable needle felted sculpture and I really enjoyed my day out at Cinderhill Farm.
Really proud that Compostgirl's writing talents have been recognised and she is one of the winners of the All Write 2013 writing competition. She will have her story illustrated and published in an Anthology and get a certificate signed by Poet Laurate, Carol Ann Duffy. She is also in contention for the overall best story award.
All Write 2013 is organised by Manchester Metropolitan University's Creative Learning Network
The Manchester Children's Book Festival invites young writers to send in their creative writing for this free-to-enter competition. There is no set theme and pupils are encouraged to write in any genre. If you are a secondary school running a transition project with feeder primaries, let us know – we welcome group entries and are happy to publish work produced by other projects. The best entries will be illustrated and published in All Write 2013 and copies of the anthology will be presented to winning pupils.
Compostgirl didn't send her entry through school though, she looked up creative writing competitions on the web and sent off her entry - very enterprising of her. Her school will get a copy of the Anthology for their Library, though and if Compostgirl wins the overall award the school will get a special author vist :)
We are all so excited! Watch this space :)
Well the new season finally kicks off :)
Today I saw several Queen Bumblebees and a couple of Butterflies in the garden. The woodpeckers are drumming and yaffling in the wood and the air is full of birdsong. At night I see lots of Newts and Toads getting amorous on the patio and gravel drive :)
Tomato, aubergine and pepper seeds are up in the heated propagators and various salads and brassicas are growing well as are onion and leek seedlings
The potatos are chitting nicely ( lots more out of shot)
and the earliest potaoes are begining to grow in their bags in the polytunnel.
What is the betting it snows, next week?
Hello lovely readers
Thought it was time I welcomed some new followers to the blog, so hello to
Paid in Chickens, LuvMuskHunySukl, The Vintage Kitten, MrsHippo&Me, Rupert Neil Bumfrey, Northern mum down South, Tracy @ Cardmaker's Delights, alifrew and Wendy at Blue Borage
who all follow via Google Friends Connect.and welcome to my new followers on Bloglovin'. many apologies here - I know there are lots of you who are new to the blog, but the email feed telling me about new members seems to have been turned off, so I just know I have new followers but not who - again many apologies and I am contacting Bloglovin to see what is happening.
Could I ask if maybe you could re- follow using Google Friend Connect? Then I would know for sure who you all are and could welcome you properly :)
Anyway thank you and a warm welcome to The Compost Bin.
Don't forget to enter my Blog 7th birthday giveaway by leaving a comment on the post. I will be drawing a name in the next few days :)
(Don't forget to enter my Blog 7th birthday giveaway!)
There is an interesting new project starting today on the Guardian Online website called Live Better.
Each month, it will focus on a different area of sustainability: reducing food waste, reducing energy, recycling, reusing and up-cycling, improving health and wellbeing, saving water, sourcing sustainably, and getting involved. Over the course of the project, it will also feature a Blog of the Week.
The first monthly challenge is about reducing your food waste; now as you know this is a cause dear to my heart and one I volunteer to help with by doing the Love Food Hate Waste cookery demonstrations and stalls.
On the website, there are some interesting, thought provoking articles and writer Zoe Williams has accepted the challenge to live for a week on just the contents of her store cupboards and her vegetable box. There will be regular updates on her progress and The Guardian are asking for helpful tips and ideas in the comments space below her live blog or via Twitter @Gdnlivebetter I am sure all of you reading this could offer her loads of ideas!
The challenge thrown out to the rest of us is a bit less demanding; simply click here and accept a one week challenge to not throw away any leftovers or edible food. The Guardian want us to come up with ingenious ways to use up mashed potato, to work out the correct portions so that we're not scraping plates into the bin, to eat the last slice on the loaf, or to use up that last, blackened banana in the bowl.
I have signed up as I think this is a great way to educate and inspire people to reduce their food waste. I know that lots of you already do this sort of thing every day, but a lot of people don't! I am often surprised at how many people really don't know how to minimise their food waste or use what they have bought to the fullest extent.
So please, can I ask you to visit the Guardian site and show them how we do this sort of stuff day in day out? For a lot of people it is normal life NOT to waste food; lets share our experiences and tips to help other people do the same :)The Live Better Challenge (from the Guardian website)
Welcome to the Live Better Challenge. Over the next seven months, we're going to challenge ourselves and you to live … well … better.
We all know that action on the world's looming environmental crisis needs to be taken now if issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and water shortages are not to reach a point where we can't turn them around – or at least dent their progress.
Action needs to be taken at every level of society, within the highest tiers of the biggest corporations and by national governments. Nothing will happen without international and national action. But let's not discount the power of individuals. One person turning their thermostat down may not amount to much by itself, but if a thousand people do the same thing, then we're getting somewhere. Individual actions brought together become collective action – and collective action can change the world.
The Live Better Challenge is all about positive action. Over the next seven months, we hope you will use this website to tell us about the projects your local community is setting up, organisations that you like, gadgets you have tried out, shortcuts you have discovered – or the plain joy of growing your own tomatoes/making three dinners out of one chicken/watching your children jump in muddy puddles. We want to share knowledge, pool ideas, and think, together, about the future.
On top of this – and starting today – we will be issuing seven monthly challenges to some of the UK's best writers and to you. Each of the challenges will be focused on an issue, such as food, waste, health, sustainable sourcing and taking political action. We'll work through the challenges, swapping and sharing tips, gossip and pictures as we muddle through together. Sometimes we'll zoom out to look at the wider picture; sometimes we'll zoom in to look at the tiny details that make it work. Welcome! Please read on ...
Don't forget to enter my Blog 7th birthday giveaway!
Hello lovely people
I have been tidying up a bit more on this blog and re reading old posts - gosh I have written a lot of stuff on here and you have all left some wonderful comments.
I have identified more posts which I think are useful or will answer questions you might have so I have added to the "How to" guides.
Just to remind you all that , just in case you didn't know, look up ^ and below the main header picture you will see a line of tabs, click on the "How to guides" tab and you will find the ( I hope!) helpful articles I have written over the years on various subjects.
At this time of year the most useful for gardeners would probably be "Things to be doing in Dec/Jan" , "things to be doing in Feb", "Starting Tomatoes, Peppers and Aubergine seeds (Feb)" and " Growing Potatoes in bags" The last one is for those with polytunnels or some sheltered indoor place - it is still a bit cold in my opinion to put potatoes outside. But if you want to try, feel free :)
There are also guides on composting (!) crafts and chicken keeping. If you find them helpful please leave a comment to let me know :)
Now, I've been sewing since I was little, I used to make my own dolls clothes out of scraps from my mum's sewing room floor from the age of about 5 (they weren't very good!). As a child I could spend hours sorting through the button tin, and drooling over...
I have been doing a bit of spring cleaning of this blog today; updating lists; making sure the review page is up to date and generally having a tidy up. One of the things I also did was to re read some of my past posts for the month of February and it was interesting to see what I was up to and thinking about several years ago.
I also realised that it is 7 years ago today that I started this blog :) Predictably my first few posts were about nest boxes, organic gardening and my local farmers market, along with photos of Compost Mansions under snow :)
There was also a post about why I am called Compostwoman, which featured Master Composting, Garden Organic and a lot of stuff about making compost :) Oh what a surprise!
And here I am, 7 years, 1290 posts and a lot of pageviews and visitors later. I am still writing about local food, organic growing, hens, compost, gardening, wildlife, teaching, crafts, food, compost, animals, renovating Compost Mansions, growing veg, daily life - not much has changed over the years (except I have got older and have more gray hairs and Compostgirl is now a teenager!)
Since I started blogging we have started keeping chickens again, we have gained and lost beloved pets and done a lot of work on the house and grounds. In the last 7 years amongst other things I have also trained as a Forest School Leader, an Adult Education Teacher, a Master Gardener, been nominated for a number of awards, become a Love Food Hate Waste cookery demonstrator and a hens@home mentor (phew, after all that training no wonder I feel so tired all the time!) All of this has allowed me to widen what I do in my volunteering roles and Environmental Education business and I hope I have helped lots of adults and children to have fun and be more sustainable in their daily lives.
I also hope I have helped some of you, readers of this blog, in some small way, with gardening, hen keeping or cooking advice or just by sharing my small triumphs and tragedies. At the very least I hope I have sometimes amused you with my antics :)
So in honour of my blogging birthday and to thank all of you, my lovely readers, I am going to have a giveaway!
Leave me a comment below and next week I will draw out a name and send who ever is drawn a little surprise present - possibly something home made, possibly something I have been sent to review but it will be nice, I promise.
What's a girl to do when she has a free day to do as she pleases? Go charity shopping, of course! I popped over to my nearby charity shops, to discover, horror of horrors, two of my favourite ones have got rid of their pound rails!! Argghhh! Thankfully, two other...
Sunday 23rd February I've mentioned before that mum is having a major loft clearout and I have some rather nice items of hers that I have listed on eBay. Today, after spending the morning helping me chop wood for the woodburner, she mentioned that she was off into the loft...
After my last post I must admit I am beginning to feel cautiously optimistic that Spring might be on the way...
The snowdrops and crocii in the front garden are all blooming
As are the ones in the Wood, and the wild daffodils are beginning to open.
The Bluebell foliage is very much in evidence now and the flower buds are beginning to push up out from the stems.
I also saw my first Queen Bumblebee emerging from hibernation !
I set up my heated propagators in the porch last week and sowed the first of the tomato, pepper and aubergine seeds and they are already growing - lots of seedlings have emerged. I have also sown onion seeds along with lots of brassicas and salads.
The ground is still far too wet underfoot to venture on to the veg garden or walk on the lawns, so I can't do much about digging over flower beds or preparing the soil but at least I feel I have finally got started on the 2014 growing season.