Posted in Fairies, Gardens, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Uncategorized

The Perfect Permaculture Plant …

A Permaculture plant is one that is perfectly suited to that space in nature, soil, climate, site, micro-climate, etc.,

A plant that is comfortable in that zone and one that adds to the bio-diversity possibilities on the land space you inhabit.

One that provides food, whether for yourself, animals, insects or the soil…thereby keeping the loop healthy and working.

Cow Parsley in my garden

Covered with tiny droplets of rain, this Cow Parsley looks exquisite, despite the fact that it is hated and despised by so many gardeners, yet home and food and shelter to so many insects.

I have vast tracts of Cow Parsley growing on my land.

It looks stunning when dusted with winter frost!

I noticed that there was a lot of this wild herb growing on the roads around the mountain of Kilronan this week.

It looked spectacular in the mountain light.

Wind Spiral in the Fairy Dell

This wind spiral catches energy moving through the woodland of the Fairy Dell.

This is a spot that everyone refuses to visit or even walk through after sunset…

Fairies inhabit this little bit of woodland.

 A woodland zone is  a vital part of the Permaculture Plan…

Harvest Moon in the West of Ireland, tonight!

Last night the Harvest Moon rose over my Permaculture Vegetable Garden.

The sky was clear and the air  crisp as the moonlight illuminated my path back across the grass from the compost heap.

Today is now calm and sunny, but rain clouds  have emptied a lot of water over the valley.

I watched them move, sweeping across the mountains from the Atlantic Ocean, bringing fresh, clean water to my garden.

I have lit the stove in the kitchen and filled it with Turf and logs.

The heat will air the clothes that I’ve rescued from the clothes line.

As I write this I can smell them drying…time for tea, I’m thinking!

Posted in Abundance, Autumn, biodiversity, Celts, Climate, Country Living, Crafts, Food, Gardens, Growing Food, Inspiration, Permaculture, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Magic of Autumn, A Permaculture Floor and Free Rose Arch

Irish Dresser

Pumpkins take pride of place on my dresser back in 2010.

There is a brilliant Pumpkin season underway here in the west of Ireland, with some of the biggest and best being grown outdoors, despite the lack of sun this summer.

There was an almost full moon in the southern sky last night and the sky was clear and blue this morning.

However, rain and storms are forecast!

The moon last night was strong enough to light up the back of the cottage.

It waxed and shone brightly.

I am busy harvesting onions, garlic, herbs, potatoes, chard and loads of Apples.

Nights are closing in and there’s even a little frost on the grass some mornings.

This is my favourite season!

I wanted to integrate re-cycling as a theme in my cottage.

I feel strongly about the amount of waste that happens every day in our lives…”throw it away”…but where is ‘away?’

We all live on this finite planet.

We share the oceans…they’re all connected.

We share the air, good grief, we share everything on this planet, though some are greedy beyond belief!

These broken tiles were going to be buried in a landfill site…I needed a floor…and so a connection was made between some like-minded people.

This is the result, much admired by visitors to the cottage…my floor, a statement of permaculture fusion, permaculture art maybe?

Making a Rose Arch in the garden needn’t cost a penny!

This Rambling Rose is supported by a Ribes hedge and a couple of lengths of Willow.

There are several different kinds of flowering shrubs on either side to support wildlife and biodiversity, which is probably the reason why my Apple Harvest this year and every other year is so bountiful!

Observation is a key element in Permaculture.

It is also a great friend of any gardener, for observing one’s garden allows one to continually create small and interesting places from what grows and shapes itself.

Archways will form naturally and give a good indication of what is possible in that space.

A kind of evolutionary gardening if you like!

According to the Irish Calendar which is based on ancient Celtic traditions, autumn lasts throughout the months of August, September, and October, or possibly a few days later, depending on tradition….so the first month of autumn is almost over!

There is a heavy harvest of all berries this year…sign of a cold winter to come…but the birds will be fed well as there are simply tons of berries here at Bealtaine Cottage.

I began my work here providing nuts for the birds in feeders all over the gardens, but the shrubs and trees planted are all producing more than adequate food for the birds and all wildlife, so the bird-feeders have all been passed on.

Posted in biodiversity, Current Affairs, Earth, Food, Growing Food, Life, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Under Occupation…Mother Earth needs a Lawyer!

The Earth is in desperate need of protection.

Mother Earth is in desperate need of people with integrity to look after her interests…for her interests are our interests.

So, what constitutes integrity?

Do any of our leaders possess this quality?

How often do we say, “there goes a person of integrity…”?

Integrity is the “quality or state of being complete”, of being in an “unbroken condition” or state of “wholeness”… entireness, wholeness; the unimpaired state of anything: uprightness: honesty: purity.

The problem with many politicians, who make decisions on our behalf, is that they seem not to possess any of the last three qualities.

I am very concerned about our seed security.

Seed gives us our food…all of our food.

I have spoken about this before and the little I have to say about it resonates deeply with many of you.

Now, the reason that I mention politicians is that all decisions relating to our environment and food security are taken at governmental level and it is at governmental level that the big corporations employ many of their people…to lobby!

There is no integrity in lobbying politicians on behalf of a corporation…that is all about money and back-scratching.

So, back to Mother Earth and who lobbies for her…successfully?

Well, one of my all-time heroes, Tim DeChristopher is in prison for taking direct action to help her.

That is a story worth googling!

There are many organizations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth who represent us on the front-line.

There are also many people who genuinely care and are concerned and I count myself as one.

The problem is that politicians are very adept at being sly.

Take for example the issue of GMO’s.

Recently, the government here in Ireland allowed this abomination into our country via, “GM Potato Trials!”

Now, who, I ask, would have lobbied for that?

Then there’s the case of Order 81 in Iraq.

Who was behind that?

Do people even know anything about Order 81, imposed by the US government in 2004.

Yes, imposed!

What a break for U.S. corporations, such as Monsanto!

The U.S. imposed 100 Orders on Iraq.

Order 81  was designed to have a major impact on the way farming is done in Iraq.

This order prohibits Iraqi farmers from using saving seeds from one year to the next.

Order 81 prohibits the farmers from using their own seeds, on their own farms, to grow their own crops.

So who supplies the seeds…?

Well, join the dots and look at what’s going on.

Prior to the U.S. invasion, agriculture in Iraq was flourishing.

The Fertile Crescent in Iraq, the cradle of civilization and where farming actually began, had developed a system of farming that was the envy of the world.

There was immense biodiversity and within that was food security.

GMO’s depletes biodiversity, leaving us all tied to the corporations supplying the seeds.

Alarm bells ringing?

Under Occupation, centuries of progress have been destroyed, almost overnight, due to the bombing of the Iraq Seed Bank…how convenient for Monsanto to get a foothold.

How much of this did you know?

As I suspected, the Earth needs a damn good lawyer and fast!

 

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Posted in Abundance, Autumn, celebrations, Country Living, Gardens, Growing Food, Ireland, Permaculture, Samhain, Trees, Uncategorized

Fruits of the Earth

Kilronan Mountain rises above the mist early in the morning here in the north west of Ireland.

The solace of an early Autumn and a brightening sky.

Fruits of the Earth are ready to harvest.

Apples scattered on the grass in the orchard are nibbled by night-time visitors and afternoon wasps.

The seasonal change-over is happening, hot becomes warm and cool becomes cold.

Crocosmia is blooming…the brilliant burnt orange of an artist’s palette.

This little flower, once brought to Ireland from South Africa, now colours the roadsides for departing visitors…an orange farewell and abiding memory.

The orange flag of Lughnasa spent in an Emerald Isle.

As the Equinox approaches and the days shorten, the scents rising from Mother Earth are full of fermenting fruit and wood smoke.

Plums split open in fertile ripeness.

Wasps descend.

Samhain is just around the corner and then the descent towards the longest night of the year…the seasons progress…

The promise of a Toffee Apple on a stick.

Scrumping children sneak into gardens for the promise of apples and pockets filled with booty to carry off.

Posted in Cottage, Country Living, cows, Crafts, Dogs, Frugal Living, Gardens, Inspiration, Permaculture, photography, Self-Sufficiency, Spirituality, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Return of Romance

Simplicity of living is much sought after these days.

There are television programmes and magazines devoted to the simple life.

We are drawn towards images of romantic simplicity…think of all the wonderful books translated into gorgeous films that espouse life before the Industrial Revolution.

I have to admit an interest here, as my most read novel is Pride and Prejudice and favourite film is the translation of that book onto the big screen by Deborah Moggach, directed by Joe Wright.

It is simply exquisite in it’s attention to detail that reflects the beautiful simplicity of everyday life.

And that is what we have been seeking, through consumption, for several chaotic decades now…a return to the simple life.

So, let’s define the simple life.

Well, it is simple enough to define, for it simply means, “less of!”

Yet all the media, while espousing the simple life, cheer-leads us to consume more.

Individually designed Lavender Hearts for sale at Bealtaine Cottage on Etsy

So, I urge you to read the book and see the film.

Within the romantic idealism of past times there sits a very clear message…less is more.

De-clutter your life.

Embrace the sunrises and sunsets.

Open the door of your de-cluttered world to romance and fall in love with Nature.

All good will follow!

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Posted in Abundance, Culture, Current Affairs, Earth, Gaia, Garden, Permaculture, Spirituality, Uncategorized

A Healthy Eco-system Feeds our Spirituality

Eight years ago this did not exist.

What is now Bealtaine Cottage, sat in the middle of three very barren, small fields.

It is difficult for me to relate to the sad scene I first encountered at that time.

Much has changed during the recent years.

The land has blossomed into abundance.

An abundance I find hard to keep up with.

Scant topsoil, clinging to daub on shallow bedrock seemed impossible.

It was another Findhorn project in the making.

Everything that was reality then has been turned on its head.

This was not possible…every note of common sense and knowledge re-inforced that.

So, what has happened?

The simple answer is, I do not know.

The more complex answer is, energy…physical and spiritual energy.

This energy is linked to the Divine.

Our Earth appears to be in the beginning phase of the process of shifting into a divine and higher  level of consciousness.

I feel it is possible to make a conscious link to the vast energy of Nature that enfolds us.

Every living thing drinks in the energy of the sun in one form or another.

That is the very visible and tangible understanding of what is happening.

For us to make the conscious link, it is necessary to be aware and ultimately inspired by it all.

Posted in Childhood, Culture, Current Affairs, Garden, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Personal, Spirituality

The Return of the Divine Feminine and Earth Healing.

For several thousands of years there has been a dominance of patriarchal religion.

The role of women has been greatly suppressed and undermined.

As a consequence, we have forgotten and been denied the sacred power of the divine feminine.

As a woman growing up here in Ireland I was taught that God was male and women were subservient at all times to the male.

The role of the feminine was diminished at all levels of society.

I recall my mother having to endure a ceremony called, “being churched,” after childbirth.

The RC church regarded my mother and all like her as being “dirty,” following childbirth and that only a male priest could cleanse her and make her fit for the world in which she lived.

Mother was not allowed to attend church until this ceremony had been conducted.

Imagine a world where giving birth to a sacred human being made one unclean in the eyes of God?

Without the divine feminine in our lives, we impoverish ourselves of the sacred meaning and divine purpose of being alive.

Without the divine feminine in our lives we lose our ability to heal, understand, nourish and empower ourselves and our world.

We allow the ignorance of patriarchy to diminish what we know to be sacred and special.

Without the understanding of the divine feminine we submit to chaos and fear.

The Earth and her inhabitants have had enough of chaos and fear…

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Over 1,000 blogs from Bealtaine Cottage in the archives here…check them out!

Posted in Angels, Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Garden, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture

A Celebration of 200,000 Visitors to Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland…

Some of the thousands of photographs of life at Bealtaine Cottage over the past few years and a huge “Thank you” to all of you who have made the journey with me…Bless you!

Garden to the east of the cottage, Summer 2010

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Lavender drying on the back door of my cottageThe back door open to let in the cool breeze, Summer 2010

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My Spinning WheelMy spinning wheel placed on the home made floor

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The lane at (Bealtaine Cottage), Ballyfermoyle

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A full moon over Bealtaine Cottage

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Angel in the Bog Garden

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The North Garden full of autumn colour in 2010

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Wood burning stove in the sitting room

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Willow archway in the Bog Garden

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Christmas at Bealtaine with blue sky, sunshine and snow!

Posted in Angels, Animals, Cats, Climate, Cottage, Country Living, Dogs, Garden, Growing Food, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Storms, Cats and Pumpkins

The storm has raged all day.

Wind has tossed garden debris around and every so often the heavens opened casting a deluge of rain upon the cottage.

Thunder has brought Jack and Flo rushing to my side…

Yet, through all of this, Che Mousy has lazily surveyed the scene from the comfort of his executive chair.

Missy has slept the storm away in the tunnel.

I was over there earlier clearing out weeds and harvesting parsley and seeds and she followed me, making camp on the potting table.

In between the showers I have managed a bit more pruning in the upper gardens.

Yes, I know…balanced atop a step ladder in a storm is rather silly, but single-mindedness is an integral part of my nature and has been my driving spur always!

There is an abundance of Pumpkins coming into harvest at the moment, as you can see…this one is growing outside and appears more than happy in the mad Irish weather!

I placed an old log alongside it to create warmth and a suitable micro-climate for growing.

It works!

True to form, the weather brings sunshine too…well, this is the West of Ireland!

I even managed to drink my afternoon tea whilst walking through the gardens!

Posted in Fairies, History, Inspiration, Life, Poetry, Sligo, Spirituality, Uncategorized

The High Cross of Saint Colmcille under Ben Bulben.

A day away from my permaculture smallholding, to visit the beach of Streedagh, in Sligo.

On the journey to the ocean, I stopped off at Drumcliffe to visit the grave of William Butler Yeats.

Yeats lies in the little churchyard beside the church where his grandfather was once a clergyman.

This was once an early Christian site of
major significance.

It founded by St. Colmcille in A.D. 575 – the round tower and high cross, as you can see above, still remain.

Saint Colmcille is remembered  for his part in the ‘ Battle of the Books’.

Colmcille copied a book while a guest
of St. Finian’s.

Finian claimed the copy as well as the book, but Colmcille refused.

Here you can see the beach of Streedagh and the mountain of Ben Bulben in the background.

Yeats lies in the churchyard at the foot of this great mountain.

Anyway, on with the story…The dispute was brought
to the High King of Ireland whose edict was: ‘To every cow its calf and to every book its copy’.

In consequence, in 561 AD, the High King and Colmcille engaged in battle on the slopes of Benbulben.

Aided by an angel, Colmcille won.

Thousands of men were slain and the King forced to concede the copy of the
psalter to Colmcille.

Stricken by remorse after the Battle of the Books,  Colmcille confessed and
was banished to Iona, Scotland, in 563 AD.

His penance was to convert more people to Christ than had
fallen at Culdreimhne.

Here is the poem by Yeats, “Under Ben Bulben.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXoM0Ze-9xE

Posted in Cottage, Country Living, Food, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding

A Perfect Little Potager Garden.

Pumpkin flowers are open wide in the brilliant sunshine this morning at Bealtaine Cottage.

The bees appear to be basking in the golden petals as they flit from one flower to another, pollinating as they go.

It’s a truly beautiful morning for the sky is blue and the sun is climbing high into a Lughnasa sky over the west of Ireland.

These modest little raised beds, constructed in an afternoon or so of work, a mere eight weeks ago, are giving a magnificent harvest.

So far we have enjoyed tomatoes, salads, sugar snap peas, greens for the juicer and herbs.

There are onions, chard, pumpkins and courgettes to come…a proper little Potager.

And all outside the back door!

A potager garden is a vegetable garden which is designed to be attractive as well as functional.

The idea is French!

A Potager Garden possesses beauty,  practicality and can fit into a wide variety of spaces and climates.

A well-planted Potager garden can satisfy a lot of the vegetable needs for a household, as well as being pleasing to the eye.

In France, where the Potager garden was first conceived, there is a long tradition of laying out practical gardens in a way which is also aesthetically pleasing.

In a Potager garden, gardeners often increase  yield, utilizing advantageous plant pairings which help deter pests and enrich the soil.

By contrast, the traditional kitchen garden tends to be more stark, laid out with a purely practical eye.

The focus of a potager garden is vegetables, herbs and edible flowers…a truly edible landscape!

 Potager gardens can also be quite ornamental in design, to include vines on trellises, bright, colourful flowers, and water features.

Garden visitors are encouraged to eat the landscape!

Meanwhile, indoors, there is knitting going on as lots of leftover and recycled wool is being put to good use in the form of a winter shawl…nothing nicer to curl up inside as the nights draw in.

While in town yesterday, I called into the local charity shop and found this beautiful Michael Kennedy teal-light holder for two euros.

I adore Michael Kennedy’s work, for as an Irish potter he is second to none and have been lucky to have come across so many pieces such as this for very little.

Missy was rolling about in the sunshine as I walked to the tunnel this morning, loving the heat of the morning.

It looks set to be a lovely weekend…have a good one!

Posted in Animals, Cats, Dogs, Permaculture, Personal, Smallholding, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Cats, Dogs and Long Winding Paths…

There are hundreds of metres of paths here on the permaculture smallholding, all lined with plants, trees and shrubs and all needing to be cut back and tidied up now that the midsummer growth has peaked.

It’s a task I love, especially on a day like today where the sun is clouded over, but the air is warm and still.

Last night I watched a beautiful moon rise in the North East and several shooting stars.

This morning I was entranced by dragonflies around the lower pond as I weeded the margins of the water…standing in the cool water at one point just to cool off and feel the silt between my toes!

Missy is sitting here beside me as I type, emitting little fluffs of fur into the air as she moults.

They are drawn towards my face and cling to my skin, making me stop working to brush them away.

Her soft purring is compensation for the minor discomfort.

She loves to sit near me at times, just drinking in my energy and I hers.

The straggly leftover Tomato plants are all doing well and promise a modest harvest.

The seasons continue on their slow, steady course, despite the chaos of the weather.

Jack and Flo are like an old married couple, arguing over which side of the bed they want to sleep on!

In this case it’s baskets.

Flo often pushes Jack out of his basket and takes over completely, delegating poor Jack to the close confines of her small bed…

It’s only that he adores Flo that he tolerates this!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Current Affairs, Fairies, Garden, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Thoughts, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

Willow Fedges, Arches and Fairy Woods

It’s evening here at Bealtaine Cottage.

The sun is setting in the west and there’s a mild chill in the air.

I have been cutting back some of the wild summer growth and the sunlight can now reach areas where there was only heavy shade.

The dappled light covers the standing stone on the bank under the cottage.

One of the big tasks is tying in the willow growth from this year into the fedges that cover the smallholding.

It’s a lovely task really, I can’t complain, as I work and listen to the sounds of Nature all around me.

It also allows me time to look at the way plants are developing and plan the next task, so there is an organic flow to my work.

This willow arch has many stems of Dogwood worked into it.

The fedge on the right was the first one constructed here and had developed well over seven or so years.

It looked odd at the beginning as it stood all alone on a rushy field.

An upside down vase covers the top of a stem from a Sitka spruce that I recently cut down.

There is a disease which is killing these trees off all over Ireland and Scotland and no wonder!

The plantations of these trees spread far and wide and are monoculture nightmares that blot the landscape in huge square planting schemes that allow no light or biodiversity into their space…it is purely for greed!

The bog garden has seen lots of work over recent days as I clear the edges of the pond and cut back willow and shrubs.

This is a lovely time of the year to work outdoors.

Autumn is my favourite season.

It is a time when the gardens start to look their best as the summer party ends and the tidy up begins…

I have realised the great value of Willow this year as a fuel for the stove.

Much of what I cut last Autumn made great kindling and small logs, giving a strong heat.

It also works well in the Rocket Stove.

When I had finished my work, I walked back up through the Fairy Dell Wood as the evening sun was illuminating the entrance, making it look magical.

I have always believed in Fairies…

Posted in Cottage, Eco-Living, Frugal Living, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Recycling, Thrift, Uncategorized

Recycling for Profit!

Recycling can be done in many different ways.

It’s not just about pushing used bottle and jars into a recycling bin!

Here at Bealtaine Cottage most of the contents of my home are recycled household items.

I have added to the kitchen  contents with this lovely wall shelving, bought second-hand at the Boot Fair in Carrick-on-Shannon over the weekend.

It cost me 20 euros…a bargain and I didn’t even have to barter, as this was the asking price which I thought was fair, so paid it.

It’s perfect in my kitchen!

I also bought a Bread Bin for 4 euros…in the same colour as I painted the floor.

I never know what treats await me as I forage through the Fair on a Sunday morning…and last Sunday I arrived home with three items for my cottage, the last being this unusual mirror, made from metal and looking slightly Gothic!

It seemed to fit perfectly beside the door to the porch, reflecting the Victorian wash-stand by the opposite wall.

There are so many different and interesting ways to recycle…it’s not just about glass and cans!

Posted in Climate, Cottage, Country Living, Gardening, Growing Food, hens, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Eggs For Swap and other interesting ideas!

Despite the worst of the weather over the past two months, the raised beds planted out about eight weeks ago are producing abundantly!

Continual rain has not deterred production.

Even the grey skies have not stopped or slowed down growth…could this be anything to do with the stones used in constructing the beds and the white gravel which reflects whatever light there may be?

It certainly is a most unusual micro-climate that has been made here in the west of Ireland.

The beds themselves sit atop gravel, so are really well-drained.

They are lined along the bottom with sheep’s wool, which deters slugs and feeds the plants.

The area is well sheltered and south facing.

No harsh winds manage to invade this micro-climate area as the surrounding trees and bushes offer maximum protection.

Today’s video takes you around what is growing in the two beds.

You can click on the link at the bottom of this blog to access the video on YouTube!

I have plans to build another raised bed in this same area very soon…perhaps this week.

On another note entirely, I went along to the Boot-Sale in Carrick this morning and bought a fine addition to the kitchen, as you can see above, for a mere 20 euros!

Recycling at it’s best!

I am planning to get some hens this week and my dear friends Anne and Simon have offered me a fine cockerel to chaperone the girls.

I am making a sign to hang at the end of the lane…it will read, “Eggs For Swap” as swapping is much more beneficial than money!

I’m thinking, perhaps a bag of logs for some deliciously fresh eggs…or whatever is offered within reason…anyway, it should be much more fun than boring old money!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmg9_FJspwE

Posted in Animals, Badgers, biodiversity, Country Living, cows, Current Affairs, Earth, Garden, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Nature, News, Permaculture, Personal, Smallholding, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Woodland

The Protected Badgers of Bealtaine Cottage

Badgers are set to be culled in Britain.

A sad day for this beautiful creature, once more castigated and scorned by man!

Man has blamed Badgers for illness among cattle, despite constant injecting and manipulation of herds by man.

Cattle are seen as an “Agri-industry,” and are often referred to as such.

The real welfare and needs of these animals are often over-looked in the drive for yet more production of milk and flesh…so the Badger suffers the penalty for what is not fully understood!

Kill the Badger is the cry of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Gas them, shoot them, trap them…but kill them!

But, stop!

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a badger?

I have…and I can tell you it is akin to meeting an ancient dweller of this sacred Earth…un-nerving to say the least.

And after the initial shock, a kind of emotional trauma descends, making one want to cry…and I have.

We kill what we fail to understand, or connect with.

And as our own life begins to ebb on this sacred Earth, we are the worse for it…our loss as we wrap ourselves in layers of consumer death.

The Badgers of Bealtaine Cottage will live…but how many will be killed, their sacred journeys through moonlit fields over…our loss.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl0sGQOTKwI