Awoke to frost this morning and a brilliantly clear, blue sky.
The stove had stayed lit all night, so the cottage was warm.
It’s easy to see the level of insulation in homes, looking up at roofs, as I drive to Drumshanbo on an errand.
Many of the newly built homes appear to be poorly insulated.
I took my tea outside and walked around in the sunshine…
The sheer beauty of a winter morning is stunning.
The play of winter light upon the earth is a delight to behold!
The winter stems of Spiraea colour a deep orange.
Her visit to the Vet’s on Monday has perked her up a bit…
Even though the covering of the tunnel is frozen, plants inside continue to flourish and will stay green and healthy for the winter.
Washing the plastic covering on the tunnel last month allows maximum winter light through to the plants…every little helps at this time of year!
The Lemon Balm grows well and will continue all winter, unless we have extreme weather.
Introducing Sam…one very naughty little kitten!
He had an eye infection, which is now cleared up…though he fought me every time I applied his medication!
Freezing fog surrounds Bealtaine Cottage.
Despite the cold, part of the day has been spent outdoors, tree-planting and dog walking.
She has gotten rather snuffly again as she struggles with her condition.
She craves the warmth and sleeps a lot, bless her!
Once outside, adjusted to the cold with lots of layers, it’s a pleasant day with that magical midwinter light, as the sun travels low on the horizon.
You can see that the fog has partially lifted, though remains in the valley below, hugging the village of Keadue.
Lots of mixed and informal planting gives the gardens a colour and form all the year round, as you can see from today’s picture.
That’s Pyracantha in the foreground, with Buddleia and Copper Beech, Box and Bamboo, all vying for a space and standing up to the wind from the west!
Part of today was spent in hard graft…cutting back some of the Laurel Arch on the path that leads from the cottage to the polytunnel and soft fruit gardens.
Winter is a busy time, as one attempts to keep on top of the crazy growth here in the west of Ireland.
The top needs to be cut back, but I shall leave that to another day!
Christmas presents…simple painted stones that make paper-weights, door-stops or just lovely ornaments.
Here are some I made earlier!
Decorative Hearts made from scraps of material and stuffed with wool.
These make great presents and are easy to make.
Totally recycled too!
A cottage on a slate…simply stones glued onto an old roof slate, together with a mossy roof and a little painted door and window…beautiful and unique!
Make your own willow wreath and decorate it with ivy and pine cones…you’ll find instructions on how to make this on this site…
There is nothing nicer than receiving a beautiful table display for Christmas.
Scour local charity shops for a bowl or container, fill it with florist’s oasis and insert as much seasonal greenery as you like…with water in the oasis, this is guaranteed to last well into the New Year!
A few pine cones picked up in the woods and sprayed gold or silver will just top it off!
Who wants the same old chain store rubbish anyway?
According to many sources, we are in the Age of Aquarius, though many argue over dates and calendars.
On the 21st of December 2012, the winter solstice precesses through the Milky Way, which was of great mythological importance to the Mayans.
There is a belief among many that there will be unusual harmony and understanding in the world, in this new age.
This will manifest as a turning point in human consciousness.
Much of this new found consciousness will be manifested through the return of feminine energies.
We have lived in a continuous state of patriarchy during the Age of Pisces and, as a consequence, become disconnected from nature and the abundance of the earth.
War has been a constant feature in every generation and the value of the female has been much maligned and desecrated by all the institutions of power.
The old Age of Pisces is closing down, the frequency of that age is taken over by the higher frequency of Aquarius and thus the higher consciousness.
All is change…
Humans have celebrated the equinoxes since the beginning of time and many rituals were designed around them.
They signal the beginning of each of Earth’s four seasons.
For example, the Christian hierarchy included all the ancient celebrations, changing the name and meaning.
It takes 72 years for one star to move one degree in the night sky…so how did the ancients know about the Precession of the Equinox?
Have you ever wondered why Christmas and Easter are celebrated so close to the Winter and Vernal (Spring) Equinox?
Something is influencing how many see the world, themselves and each other.
There is something stirring…
The Age of Aquarius.
The day has turned stormy.
Winds are gusting high in the winter sky, but, inside the cottage, four thick stone walls and a wood stove ensures warmth and comfort.
Like it’s cousin, Sloe Gin, it needs a good long rest before the party!
My visitors, Patti and Bill, from America, have left…on their way to Clare.
Both came to visit Bealtaine Cottage to see for themselves Permaculture in action here in Ireland.
Patti discovered Bealtaine Cottage through this blog and, like many people who make the journey, wanted to touch base with this much loved cottage and land.
It’s always good to meet kindred spirits!
A quarter of a million visits to Bealtaine Cottage have been made on-line.
I would sincerely like to thank everyone of you.
I love to read your comments and, like Patti, welcome you to Ireland from whichever part of the world you visit from.
It’s always a joy to meet followers of Permaculture!
The night is drawing in.
I hope each one of you is safe and well and warm.
Bless you all…Colette X
The full moon rises above Bealtaine Cottage.
Last night there was a new moon, somewhere in the sky.
Often times I watch the moon and think of all those it shines upon.
Many dark nights, when the stars fill the sky with their own light show and shooting stars leave a momentary arch in the night sky, I make a wish.
In the cold November air of a Sunday night in the west of Ireland, I made a wish, a heartfelt wish, for The Children of Gaza.
Nothing to do with Disney, or mince pies, or turkey.
That somewhere here in the western world, there will be one human being, one hero, one person of compassion and integrity, a leader, who will stand up for what is right.
One brave person and true… for there is one, at least…
Just one, who will say, “No more!”
One who will stand in front of the Children of Gaza and say…”You shall not pass…not on my watch!”
Their mandate appears to be greed and psychopathy.
One can still wish.
Last night I made a wish…
A Christmas Childhood
(Bealtaine Cottage in the snow…looking down the driveway in the week before Christmas, 2010.)
One side of the potato-pits was white with frost-
How wonderful that was, how wonderful!
And when we put our ears to the paling-post
The music that came out was magical.
The light between the ricks of hay and straw
Was a hole in Heaven’s gable. An apple tree
With its December-glinting fruit we saw-
O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me.
(Bealtaine Cottage in the winter of 2010, just coming into the driveway.)
To eat the knowledge that grew in clay
And death the germ within it! Now and then
I can remember something of the gay
Garden that was childhood’s. Again
The tracks of cattle to a drinking-place,
A green stone lying sideways in a ditch
Or any common sight the transfigured face
Of a beauty that the world did not touch.
My father played the melodeon
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east
And they danced to his music.
(A winter sky at Bealtaine Cottage in the frozen winter of 2010)
Across the wild bogs his melodeon called
To Lennons and Callans
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.
(The Blackbird at Bealtaine Cottage.)
Outside in the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.
A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.
(Moon-rise before Midwinter at Bealtaine Cottage, 2010.)
My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.
Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy’s hanging hill,
I looked and three whin bushes rode across
The horizon-the Three Wise Kings.
An old man passing said:
‘Can’t he make it talk’-
The melodeon. I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.
I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife’s big blade-
There was a little one for cutting tobacco.
And I was six Christmases of age.
(Bealtaine Cottage in a snowstorm, Christmas 2010.)
My father played the melodeon,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary’s blouse.
by Patrick Kavanagh
You have been reading a blog from “Bealtaine Cottage”.
The Bealtaine Cottage Press presents…
“A Cottage and Three Acres,” by Colette O’Neill
Please email Colette if you would like a particular inscription in your book. From a desolate cottage set in 3 acres of monoculture sadness, to a vibrant, thriving food forest of life…the journey back to Eden over 13 years… Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.
Magical Mythical Map of Bealtaine Cottage and Gardens
Beautiful map created by the artist David Gascoigne, especially for Bealtaine Cottage. The picture shows one side of the map…it is printed on both sides, see the photos on this page. The price includes all Postage and Packing to wherever you live in the world! Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.
Bealtaine Cottage Guide to the Deep Midwinter
A little Yuletide book filled with colour photographs, recipes, reflections, lore, poetry and mirth to guide you through the wonderful days ahead. Fifty pages of sheer delight from Bealtaine Cottage to you. The book is fully bound and can be posted direct as a gift. Price includes P&P worldwide. Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.
Special Offer: Goddess Book and Midwinter Book
In Search of the Goddess Rising and The Bealtaine Cottage Guide to the Deep Midwinter…both books normally cost €36.00 but can be purchased together for for €32.00 which includes P&P Worldwide. Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.
Thank you for supporting Bealtaine Cottage
Permaculture is a way of life.
From an old but usable sewing machine to a stove that burns on wood and bakes a cake and heats the radiators and gives lots of hot water and boils the kettle… we are surrounded with abundance if we did but care to look!
The more resources we have, the more we can share.
Permaculture helps us to recognize ways of making the most of our resources, like simply insulating all the windows on the north side of my cottage last winter, helped me to make the most of my energy resource.
The simplicity of permaculture is such, that minimizing waste and maximizing potential appear to be one and the same, as one works to compliment the other.
Permaculture is about living in an ecologically sound way, embracing Nature and being able to integrate as much or as little style into that framework as one desires.
We engage in a fully conscious way with the life we attempt to build, ensuring that productivity and care for the environment are together, at the forefront of all planning and living.
In choosing to live this way, we can boast that we leave Mother Earth in a healthier and stronger position than when we first came to live with her!
We are but four weeks away from the midwinter.
This is a time to leave out food scraps for the birds and mammals facing into the cold short days and bitter long nights.
There was no thaw.
This was the cottage of my great grandmother, Mary Anne Higgins-Baxter, in Omagh, on the Derry Road.
The gable end faced the road as was the custom.
I carry with me lovely, soft, memories of her beautiful home.
She died before I could get to know her, but her cottage was just filled with her incredible energy and spirit!
This cottage, where birds and bees feel just as at home as humans…there are always lots of small gaps around the roof and walls where insects, bats and birds can over-winter.
Such imperfection is perfect for life…
Frank Lloyd Wright once said that, “The good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.”
Frank Lloyd Wright was right!
Irish cottages are fairly dark houses, designed to be snug and keep in the heat, working well it has to be said…but I love the light, so have judiciously placed mirrors, here, there and everywhere!
A well placed mirror can act like another window in terms of light.
I never turn down the offer of a mirror, even a broken one and have even used bits of mirror in the garden to reflect light onto plants.
So many people want more and more and, as they acquire material goods, become weighted down with the accumulation of such.
When the mariner finally looked down upon the creatures in the sea around him and recognized their divinity, the dead Albatross finally fell from his neck…he became one with all life…contentment descended upon him.
There is an old saying, a proverb if you like, that I often heard as a young woman growing up in my home town of Omagh.
Of all we know life to be, three aspects of it will guide your journey: truth, nature and knowledge.
My paternal grandmother had little in terms of money or property, but was immensely wealthy of spirit and generous with all.
Her own mother was an equally remarkable woman and incredibly attuned to the natural world around her.
She loved the world outside of her little lime-washed cottage and slept in a big, brass bed in the barn, all year round, waking with the birdsong and living a long, contented life.
Happiness, contentment and the recognition of Divinity in all life, were never strangers on her journey.
Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 photographs.
Bealtaine Cottage Good Life is a mere 12 euros per year and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.
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Growing freedom is manifesting in the new mass movement of allotment holders and people turning their oil-hungry lawns into edible gardens.
Freedom and choice is what happens when you decide to grow…whether it’s in a window box or on a half acre smallholding, or more.
The mindset of producing food in growing, foraging, making and storing induces a sense of liberation, as well as a feeling of well-being and harmony with the Earth.
Food: organic or not; how much and what kind; for storing or for selling; food to share, food to give; the choices go on…and as this happens, personal knowledge grows immensely!
Growing food , whether it be you actually doing it or simply enabling others to grow by buying surplus, locally produced food is of great benefit to the new scheme of things…cutting down on air miles, pollution and supporting local economies.
Creating small food communities by locally sourcing, helps to grow communities, encouraging interaction on a natural level.
Isn’t that a great word, “choice?”
The gardens in snow.
Yesterday was a day for visitors who spent two and a half hours walking around all the different gardens.
The photo above was taken in the winter of 2010…cold but very beautiful.
Permaculture is about planting and planting without chemicals, but using Nature’s way of mulch, mulch, mulch.
It works incredibly well, for this approach feeds the soil, our food lifeline!
I mulch with shreddings; clippings; wool; compost; manure; grass and leaves, as well as any other biodegradable material I come across, including cardboard, straw etc.
I also collect silt from both ponds as the stream which feeds them often washes lots of silt down from the hill behind the cottage.
This includes pulling most of the seasonal growth from the ponds and spreading that around newly planted trees.
To date, there have been over 700 trees planted on the 3 acres that make up the smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage.
Let us never forget that.
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