Permaculture Cottage ~ Funky Scarf and Chunky Cake!

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.

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

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.

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

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

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!

Bealtaine Cottage ~ Autumn Equinox and Samhain…Lifting the Veil.

Saturday Morning at Bealtaine Cottage

Sun and clear skies.

As the sun rises in the east, so the moon sets in the west…one of those glorious autumn mornings in Ireland.

Today is a busy one for me.

Visitors, willow cutting, fedging and lots more.

Yes…that is a little tomato you can see in there…this being a permaculture smallholding there are lots of food plants everywhere to be harvested in the most unexpected places…


Autumn is a time of early shadows as the season of summer passes over.

This is one of the best videos  that explains with images, words and enchanting music, this time…

http://youtu.be/nLZSy1GsvCk

We are just 4 days away from the Autumn Equinox…the turning time and the descent towards Samhain.

The sun is casting long shadows…

And as the harvest continues at Bealtaine, a Celtic blessing from Tyrone… 

http://youtu.be/4PkU0GOUCNY 

Hens…Raising Happy Girls!

The Bealtaine Girls…a bit like the Bluebell Girls, except they don’t dance!

I love hens.

They are social creatures.

Bealtaine Permaculture

They are inquisitive by nature and become very tame when treated well.

I have kept hens for years, even when I lived in London, I kept hens in my garden in Muswell Hill.

So, hens are familiar to me and have taught me a lot about what makes them happy!

Hens love to scratch and peck…fresh straw is great for this as they peck all the seeds left on the stalks.

Food is easy…lots of greens.

You can pick a few weeds every day and give to the hens, fresh is best.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture hens

Lots of starchy food leftovers is good for them as it provides a balanced diet.

I supplement with rolled barley, which they love!

If the girls can roam freely then this is good for all.

Bealtaine Cottage

Mine get out for a good long roam-about when I’m working in the upper gardens.

This is because the handsome old fox lives on the hill above the cottage!

Say no more!

Hens love the berries of the Ribes, which stay on the bushes over the winter.

I have watched the girls jump up high to eat these from the bush on winter days.

Blackcurrant Cordial Bealtaine Cottage 015

Here they are scoffing the remains of blackcurrants from wine-making.

Hens are great foragers and will happily troop off on a good old forage through the bushes and woodland, emerging hours later at some unexpected point!

The henhouse is very spacious, with two floors and a long perch…and, you’ve probably noticed, very light too.

This is because it has a perspex roof, so all the sunshine and moonlight can brighten the inside.

In this way, the hens continue to lay eggs all year round as the light induces this process.

I built this on site and positioned the roof on a slope towards the south to catch as much sun and warmth as possible.

Trees are planted around it for maximum shelter, especially from the wind.

It works!

The hens even laid eggs on Christmas day.

Bealtaine in June 2011 046

Hens will lay for years and live for over 7 years and more.

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Root of Our Unhappiness…from 2011

It’s a wet evening.

It’s a cold evening too.

I’ve lit the stove and the kettle begins to sing on the top.

It’s a tea and toast kind of evening.

I was thinking about Fairies today as I walked through the Fairy Dell Woodland.

It lies below the cottage, in a natural dell and is a very special place.

There’s a Fairy tree in the centre of the woodland with a huge stone underneath it’s branches.

I’ve often wondered about the history and meaning of that tree and stone.

I have been told that such a tree planted by a stone can mark the resting place of a person whose body was not allowed to be interred in the graveyard…the churches had all sorts of rules regarding who could and could not be interred in so called sacred ground…unbaptised babies, suicides etc…all of great sadness and shown little mercy…


And so, while Jack plays with his football…for some reason he believes I want to steal it…I think about this tree, the Fairy Dell and…fairies…

Fairies are widely regarded as magical spirits who can help humanity get closer to Nature and embrace harmony in the natural environment.

To the Celts, nature embodied the sovereignty of the Goddess.

In comparison, within the church view, Nature is widely regarded as something amoral and fearsome, needing to be dominated and put to service.

All this has led us away from our deep relationship with Mother Earth…we are now in a state of flux and near abandonment and we feel this deeply, with some more aware of the root of our unhappiness and others less, or in severe denial.

My cardigan dries on the back of a chair this evening…

Maybe we need to think again about Fairies, for until we respect the natural world and our precious environment, we are doomed to be cast aside as Gaia struggles on her own…

Permaculture Cottage ~ Recipes, Fairies and The Ways of Old

The storm continues to rage. Walking Jack this morning, I was pulled down the road by an over-enthusiastic dog and blown back home by the gale force wind. It was brilliant and energizing and really uplifting!

A Lovely, Tasty, Hot Recipe for a Cold Autumn Day…

Vegan Chilli

  • 4 cloves of garlic  (finely chopped)
  • (1 onion (diced)
  • 2 large cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 250mls passata tomato
  • 500g cooked  red kidney beans
  • 3 tbsps of olive oil
  • 3 tbsps of chilli powder
  • seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons tomato puree

Fry the onion, oil, garlic. Add tomato puree and fry another 2 minutes. Add chilli powder and fry a further 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, passata and beans…let it cook for about 20-30minutes. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste! Yummy…serve on a bed of wholegrain rice, with green salad and fresh deliciou bread…STOP DROOLING!

A Simple Idea to STOP That Draft…

You will need a staple gun or hammer and tacks. Cut a strip of material the width of the door and about 20-30cms deep. Fold and tack to the bottom of the door, with the folded side just touching the floor. Now you are draft free!

And…Fairies…

http://youtu.be/54XztbNJ87g

And, finally for today…the magical and enchanting, Ways of Old, from Loreena McKennitt…

http://youtu.be/0SG6ZITbWpU

With amazing images!

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Pantry

Sweetcorn harvested over the weekend…this is the native American corn, called ‘Painted Mountain,’ and is very colourful!

I will save some of the corn seeds for planting next year…

Heaps and heaps of windfalls… planting apple trees is cheap and easy and all you do is wait for the windfall! Ha! Ha!…I love it. Simple, easy and so very permaculture!

And more apples in the pantry…buckets of them…free food, good food and not a corporation in sight!

Free-range eggs with deep orange yolks and pumpkins in the pantry today…it’s starting to fill up as the  harvest comes in…

Bountiful Blackcurrants…waiting to be turned into jam, chutney, wine et al, rest in the freezer in the Pantry.

Permaculture Cottage ~ A Message…

“I have a message from the bottom of my heart…”   “…all manifestations of life…”      Watch and listen…. http://youtu.be/KdGep07vBtY

My Sunday has been spent inside the cottage, with the exception of walking Jack…it’s stormy and the worst is yet to come…

This is one stormy old day. All photos of today are taken inside Bealtaine Cottage as it really is too stormy to venture out!

This is the Den, where I store all the crafty bits and pieces that inspire me to create, or, at least, attempt to do so.

It’s also a quiet little room where I sometimes curl up and read…

A messy window sill in the Den…but everything is there for a reason!

Did you know that laying sufficient mulch over plants will destroy them, and is more advantageous than using herbicide, cutting, mowing, pulling, raking, or tilling? This is how Bealtaine has developed into such a beautiful and bountiful smallholding and series of gardens.

Just a lazy sunday afternoon!

Listening to Moving Hearts…The Storm…click on the link for a listen too!    http://youtu.be/ynorPAwOyEA

Making compost…this can be made from: grass clippings, leaves, hay, straw, kitchen scraps comfrey, shredded bark, whole bark nuggets, sawdust, shells, woodchips, shredded newspaper, cardboard, wool, and also animal manure, etc…, just thought I’d add that!

As I can’t work outdoors…just looking out the front window…

Permaculture Cottage ~ 70,000 Visitors…(now almost 300,000) seek a better way forward.

Potting, planting, protecting and nurturing the future of Earth…the babies of Gaia are secure in the Nursery beds as the storm approaches from the west, with an early winter not far behind…in late October to be expected!

Visitors to this permaculture blog topped 70,000 this week.

Interest in permaculture is booming as the forces that rule and dominate this sacred earth go into a tailspin, driven by their hatred, greed and compelling and overwhelming desire to destroy all that is good and sustainable on Gaia.

More and more people are becoming desirous of finding a way forward which can only be based on sustainability.

Permaculture is the way that has proven itself to be foolproof here at Bealtaine Cottage. Marian, Colin and Marisa, visitors this week, will testify to that!

Sedums this morning, near the tunnel.  It’s hard to believe that these are growing where once only rushes grew…with nothing sprayed, turned, dug, imported, raped or plundered.

The thing is, when you start to trust Nature and treat her as a friend, wonderful things start to happen…that is permaculture for me, in a nutshell!

Oregano growing around the water bins near the tunnel this morning.

The flower heads can be dried and used to make tea which has wonderful anti-bacterial properties.

Good for sore throats!

Ash trees stand tall and heroic all around the borders of Bealtaine…I have more faith and trust in these guardians of Gaia than any standing army!

The pathway into the Fairy Dell, lined on either side by a Willow Fedge…now is the time to create fedges like this, easy to make and cost ZERO…my favourite word as you all know!

PS…since posting this in September 2011, over 295,000 visitors have made their way to Bealtaine Cottage…permaculture is blooming!