Archive | September, 2011

Permaculture Cottage ~ Funky Scarf and Chunky Cake!

30 Sep

Friday afternoon at Bealtaine and despite the rain work between showers has contiued throughout the day. I hung this plaque on the kitchen door earlier, a present from a friend. It’s simple, colourful and evokes a sense of what lies beyond the door…the pantry!

Talking of which…there’s several demijohns of wine waiting to be bottled and laid down in here!

Knitted a scarf recently and was thinking about the edging…and after considerable searching around in the craft boxes stashed under beds and other forgetful places, I found these wooden beads, which I’ve threaded onto the edges of the scarf with wool and a big darning needle!

A big and bold arrangement in the vase on the mantlepiece in the sitting room, using some quickly cut pieces from the upper garden…just two varieties here! Simple is best and looks fab!

Simple and easy chunky cake…

  • 12 ozs SR Flour
  • 6 ozs  Margarine
  • 4 ozs caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • buttermilk
  • home made Rhubarb Jam
  • Organic oats
  1. Weigh all the ingredients.
  2. Put all ingredients into the mixer.
  3. Whizz.
  4. Add eggs
  5. Whizz
  6. Add a little buttermilk
  7. Whizz.
  8. Line a cake tray, add half of the mix.
  9. Dollop jam on top and add remaining mix.
  10. Sprinkle with oats and demerara sugar.

Bake at 190 c for about 20 minutes or so.

And for a wet Friday evening…what can be nicer than a hot vegetable stew, with big chunks of fresh bread?

Have a good weekend!

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Changing Colours of Autumn.

28 Sep

Splitting logs of Ash for use in the stove this winter. This wood is easy to grow and easy to harvest if continuously coppiced. Ash, if coppiced, can grow steadily for 2,000 years and more. Ash can be burned in the green, that is, on the day it is cut. It is the perfect the perfect permaculture fuel!

Michelmass daisies and almost ripe pears heralds the middle of Autumn. Both pear trees are heavy with fruit. This winter I will plant more fruit trees, definitely plum and pear among them!

As the season progresses and the harvest is gathered in, the recipe books are opened and real saving of the harvest begins. So far I have made Autumn Chutney, apple chutney, various pickles and jams as well as a most unusual Blackcurrant Chutney.

Colours of Autumn simply absorb the whole landscape. This picture from today at Bealtaine Cottage says it all!

And more colour…

Grapes in the tunnel this morning. This is the best harvest so far. These are sweet and juicy. I am attempting to grow a vine outside here in the west of Ireland and will keep you posted!

Maddy Harland, from Permaculture Magazine, has published a post from Bealtaine Cottage this morning. here’s the link… @PermaGoddess thank you! it’s up http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/2809111143/ancient-ireland-our-ancestors-original-permaculture-forest

Permaculture Cottage ~ A Walk on the Wild Side

26 Sep

Ivy loops and twirls around the trees in the Fairy Dell woodland. Ivy that feeds the birds in the depths of midwinter. Ivy that shelters the pheasant in the heat of midsummer. Strong, natural and wild…

Ivy and Lichens, so perfect in the gardens at Bealtaine that it can only be the hand of Nature…no gardener can create this perfection…

Another sacred part of the land at this permaculture smallholding…a small field of Devil’s-bit Scabious, the natural habitat of the rare Marsh Fritillary Butterfly. Nature working her pure magic and being encouraged at every turn!

Now is the time to plant Willow. This is something which is easy to do and will serve the eco-system around you well. So many insects, birds and bees depend on this plant. Simply cut a wand of Willow and push it into the ground as far as you can…about 1-2feet will do! Manure it well and it will grow fast and strong! Some people surround it with plastic to stop weeds and grass, but, personally I do not approve of this as the earth under plastic is not beneficial to wildlife and anyway, the Willow will soon shade out any unwanted weeds!

Cotoneaster…planted, but soon takes on the mantle of wildness and becomes a feeding station for birds and insects alike!

Permaculture Cottage ~ Beyond Consumerism…Life after Debt.

23 Sep

Friday…always a good feeling!

The weekend lies ahead and there lies the potential for something happening and all sorts of possibilities.

Many people look forward to going out and many go shopping, as a form of retail therapy!

However, change is happening…and it is good!

This is a time of change.

The Equinox is upon us and the day itself is changing as we enter the descent towards Midwinter.

An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator.

The day and night are equal…

Consumerism is slowing down.

People are buying less and are turning more and more towards growing and foraging food.

The social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts has failed us all.

This may appear to be a bad thing to some people, but the Earth has been given a break…the first real break in a very long time.

The flowers at the front gate are beginning to replace the  concrete walls, iron gates that are closed and an intercom service that you have to speak into in order just to drive or walk up to the house!

The idea of neighbours and helping one another is slowly catching on…

Today has seen several visitors to Bealtaine Cottage, including a neighbour concerned about ‘Fracking’ and wanting more information.

The times we live in are all about change…

Change is happening and happening fast.

We either embrace the change in our living circumstances, taking time to evaluate our lives, or we continue on as mere consumers, or in the present scenario, unhappy people without the money to keep consuming.

The choice is ours.

 Today is the actual Autumn Equinox…the descent towards Midwinter begins…a time to nurture, bake, cook, sew and…rest a bit!

What was it that Bob Dylan sang about…oh yes…

The Times They Are A Changin’

http://youtu.be/9vou4qUu5YY      Go on…

Permaculture Cottage ~ Sustainable Living, Willow and Trees

21 Sep

All the ingredients to make Autumn Chutney are in the pot and heating up on the stove. The apples are from the trees here at Bealtaine. Onions were grown here as well. The stove is burning wood grown here also…which all adds to the sustainability of living…and living well.

I posted the recipe for this last night…so you can easily find it on the previous day…just scroll down and click on the link to go back…

Delicious and top quality as all the ingredients are sourced or grown by myself. Shop bought chutneys just come anywhere near this stuff taste-wise!

And lots of material for the compost heaps… All the apples used in this chutney were windfalls!

I have been reading a lot of stuff on Twitter recently about how pointless it is to plant trees and the importance of protecting our woodlands and forests! Well, the latter I do agree wholeheartedly with, but as for the pointessness of planting new trees…that’s just damned silly! Anyone who has planted a tree in their lifetime will testify to that!

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn
them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.
~Kahlil Gibran

Seven years ago there were NO trees here on this land…just some in the rather neglected hedges that skirted the land. All you see on the blogs I post are trees that I have planted…over 600 to date. the willow I am harvesting in this photo is a catch crop, planted inbetween the actual trees.

However, there is another very important reason to plant trees and willow and anything else you can think of…biodiversity and wildlife!

Those same people who believe it futile to plant trees should ask the little bird who built this nest if it was futile!

It is amazing just how much we can create from nothing with the magic of Gaia. This was a rod of willow I just stuck into the ground…

Real change needs to grow from the roots up…that means ourselves, individually and collectively getting on with it…creating the world we want to live in.

We are Change                     http://youtu.be/ji8iYgLx8G0  Listen with your Heart…

An Early Morning Walk with Jack along Ballyfermoyle

20 Sep

Jack is my beautiful rescue dog…I usually introduce thus to strangers as a way of excusing his enthusiasm for life…jumping up to greet people!

Jack loves walking, so we go out at least twice a day along the laneway where I live, here at Ballyfermoyle.

I took these photos this morning for you all to see soem of what Jack and I see…

Recipe for Autumn Chutney…easy and you get to choose the fruit!

I used…

  • 1.5kg apples, chopped up in small pieces
  • 80g chopped dates
  • 100g raisins
  • 450g onions, fine chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 350g soft brown sugar
  • 550mls malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • half tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients into a large pan over a gentle heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for one and a half hours. Stir a few times during cooking.

Pot immediately, but leave to mature for at least a week for the flavours to infuse.

I had some on bread whilst still hot and it’s yummy!

Permaculture Cottage ~ Today’s photos from the gardens at Bealtaine

19 Sep

A few more photos from today…from Bealtaine Smallholding.

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