Archive | January, 2012

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Garden Tour Album…

31 Jan

On the Eve of Imbolc…

31 Jan

Imbolc is a time to celebrate the promise of Spring and to think about planting…

On the eve of Imbolc

Imbolc, or St Brigid’s Day  Lá Fhéile Bríde,  is an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring.

Imbolc is celebrated on the 1st day of February, the date that falls approximately halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Hens at Bealtaine Cottage Jan 2012

The holiday was, and for many still is, a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring.

Stove at bealtaine cottageCelebrations are focused around hearth fires, special foods, as in a family dinner or feast, candles, invoking a sense of the light to come…

“The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.” 

candle and spiral at bealtaine cottageFire and purification are an important aspect of this festival.

Brigid is the Gaelic goddess of poetry, healing and smith-craft. 

As both goddess and saint she is also associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing.

The lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.

Laurel arch at bealtaine cottage permaculture gardens

Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve.

Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless.

The head of the household will smother (or “smoor”) the fire and rake the ashes smooth.

In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning.

The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on Etsy

Traditionally, a cross made from pulled rushes is hung inside the home each Imbolc.

You can find these at the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop, at the right side of this page.

The Road Not Taken…

28 Jan

Spent the day learning more about basketry in another great workshop organized by Tom Browne at Corrigeenroe near Boyle, here in County Roscommon.
I am tired, but looking forward to day 2 of the willow weaving and basketry, tomorrow.

This is a fabulous, fabulous hen basket woven by Tom, to transport hens in…isn’t this just the best looking and most practical basket you ever did see? It has a gorgeous little door on the front and will hold several hens in pure comfort.

Something worth mentioning is the fact that the hen basket is a completely unique design…Tom’s own craft-work! Admired for sure and perhaps copied as well!

The beginnings of another basket..

Tea…hot, comforting tea…and a chance to put my feet up and contemplate my endeavours…I shall dream of willow and baskets and patterns and possibilities… 

I adore Robert Frost and his poetry…this is one of my favourites…I was reciting this in my head as I drove home from Corrigeenroe tonight…

It is, perhaps, one of the most philosophical poems I have ever read and loved!

Robert Frost

“The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
― Robert Frost

Rainbows Before Imbolc

27 Jan

 

As I write this, the rain is lashing down around the walls of the cottage. it’s Friday and the weather is almost mid-March in it’s behaviour…wild, windy, mild and wet!


It has been a day of rainbows…I’ve counted four so far! And the sun, when it does shine through, is brilliant!


The rain has now turned to hailstones!

“By early evening all the sky to the north had darkened and the spare terrain they trod had turned a neuter gray as far as the eye could see. They grouped in the road at the top of a rise and looked back. The storm front towered above them and the wind was cool on their sweating faces. They slumped bleary-eyed in their saddles and looked at one another. Shrouded in the black thunderheads the distant lightning glowed mutely like welding seen through foundry smoke. As if repairs were under way at some flawed place n the iron dark of the world.”
― Cormac McCarthyAll The Pretty Horses

Little bits of work has been done over the course of the day, including cleaning out the hen-house and continuing to cut willow.

“Dang! Look at that RAINBOW!” Piper shouted, accidently spewing bits of apple pie from her overstuffed mouth. All quickly turned and saw…
…exactly what Piper claimed, a rainbow.”
― Victoria ForesterThe Girl Who Could Fly

Thomas Hardy

“WEATHERS
This is the weather the cuckoo likes,
And so do I;
When showers betumble the chestnut spikes,
And nestlings fly;
And the little brown nightingale bills his best,
And they sit outside at ‘The Traveller’s Rest,’
And maids come forth sprig-muslin drest,
And citizens dream of the south and west,
And so do I.

This is the weather the shepherd shuns,
And so do I;
When beeches drip in browns and duns,
And thresh and ply;
And hill-hid tides throb, throe on throe,
And meadow rivulets overflow,
And drops on gate bars hang in a row,
And rooks in families homeward go,
And so do I.”
― Thomas Hardy

An Irish Homesteader.

26 Jan

 Permaculture @ Bealtaine Cottage 005The wind turbines on Kilronan Mountain stand out against the dark blue stormy sky.
Bealtaine Cottage wind turbines on Kilronan mountainAnticipating a cold evening I have chopped lots of wood for the sitting room stove for tonight!
I have worked out a new site for a big, big compost area, now edged with willow.

I figured that the willow would take up all the extra nitrogen around the edges and provide yet more harvest-able supplies for basketry!

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture

It is always a challenge to work out better ways of doing things…I’m hoping that this will be very productive!

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Coppicing some of the ash trees on the land will be carried out before the sap rises in the wood…this takes place in early Spring, though the ash is the last tree to come into leaf and usually the first to lose it’s leaves.

Bealtaine Cottage wood burning stoveAbout half the wood burned in both stoves here at Bealtaine Cottage comes from the smallholding.

This will increase steadily over time. Ash can be burned on the day it’s cut, so is a valuable timber to grow and it’s also a hardwood.

Ash is a very fast growing tree here in the west of Ireland.

The forecast for the next few days promise frost, icy patches and sleet.

At times like these, it’s great to have a stove alight that also heats the water and feed the radiators in the cottage.

Bealtaine Cottage frogs in the pondIt remains fairly mild overall though and the frog spawn in the lower pond appears to be doing fine!

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I popped into the library today while in town and got some interesting books, including one called “The Urban Homestead.”

There’s lots of excellent information from a cursory glance through it…a snuggle up on the sofa night is in order, tea and reading!


On the subject of reading, I was thumbing through ‘Hello,’ magazine in a shop and was surprised to realize that I did not actually recognize anyone in all the photographs…is this because I do not have a television?

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Bealtaine Cottage bog garden

Frugality, Environmentalism and Optimism…

25 Jan

Frugality, environmentalism and optimism…big helpings of each on this very wet Wednesday!

Much of this is embodied in the painted stone which nestles near the climbing Rose next to the veranda  at Bealtaine Cottage.

I love natural shapes and garden ornaments that don’t cost the Earth.

This painted stone, embellished with water colour paint and some varnish to hold it together, was gifted to me by a child who visited Bealtaine, on a rainy day, like today, and who sat engaged in this task for simply ages, as his mother and I drank tea and shared time!

I adore Owls and have yet to see one here in the west of Ireland, so I keep Olly Owl perched on wood just outside the back door!

Never throw away an old Bear…they just keep improving with time!
My heart cries for the Brown Bears kept in captivity in China for their bile…absolutely horrid and cruel!

A peek out the window in the Den is as far as I go into the gardens today…much too wet!

On the upside, it’s incredibly mild!

Intensive planting, excludes weeds and cuts down on much work!

Intensive planting, excludes weeds and cuts down on much work!

I might mention all the divine charms of a bright spring day, but if you had never in your life utterly forgotten yourself in straining your eyes after the mounting lark, or in wandering through the still lanes when the fresh-opened blossoms fill them with a sacred silent beauty like that of fretted aisles, where would be the use of my descriptive catalogue?

GEORGE ELIOT, Adam Bede

It's always good to have a special spot in your garden. Sitting in the shelter of trees is calming. This is a quiet spot to enjoy a cuppa and look around.

It’s always good to have a special spot in your garden. Sitting in the shelter of trees is calming. This is a quiet spot to enjoy a cuppa and look around.

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin’s breast;In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove;In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

ALFRED, Lord TENNYSON, Locksley Hall

The Mayan Calendar, 2012 and the Shift in Consciousness.

23 Jan

Missy contemplates the day.

Hyacinths emerge from their winter slumber into the delicate light of a very early Spring morning.

This year, on December 21, 2012, the Mayan Calendar’s 13th Baktun cycle will end.

Many prophecies for this date state that the world as we know it will also change.

According to one interpretation of the Mayan Calendar, December 21, 2012 is the beginning of a new era…a time when humanity will evolve to a greater understanding of our place in the universe.

The Mayan Calendar, hanging on the wall of the veranda at the back of Bealtaine Cottage.

“An Apocalypse (Greek: “lifting of the veil” or “revelation”) is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted.” — Wikipedia

“Both the Hopis and Mayans recognize that we are approaching the end of a World Age…

In both cases, however, the Hopi and Mayan elders do not prophesy that everything will come to an end.

Rather, this is a time of transition from one World Age into another.

The message they give concerns our making a choice of how we enter the future ahead.

Our moving through with either resistance or acceptance will determine whether the transition will happen with cataclysmic changes or gradual peace and tranquillity.

The same theme can be found reflected in the prophecies of many other Native American visionaries from Black Elk to Sun Bear.”
— Joseph Robert Jochmans

Jack, on this Monday morning, waiting for his walk…

“Amazingly, there is a cultural/
prophetic context for the arising
of this Feminine-based planetary
transformation that is underway.

The Mayan 2012 prophecies
foretold of this shift of planetary
stewardship into the hands of
the Feminine.

In a personal
communication with this author,
Nicaraguan Mayan Grandmother
Flordemayo, of the International
Council of 13 Indigenous
Grandmothers, explained that
the final glyph (pictogram) from
the “Mayan Story of Creation”
(the Dresden Codex) shows the
Reawakening of the Feminine.”
— Vikki Hanchin

More willow, cut and ready for bundling, tying and stacking…

This is the year that the Mayans predict  the rebirth of our planet.  A new consciousness, which is emerging at this time, will take hold and provide the basis of all change to come.

There is, without a doubt, a shift in consciousness going on right now!

The world as we know it is changing and requires all people to open their minds to the possible.

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Is the world going to end on the 21st of December 2012? 

No, it will not.

The world will be a much more interesting place  in which to live after that date though…

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