Bealtaine Eve in Ireland

 

The hen-house is all quiet on the Eve of Bealtaine.

The hen-house is all quiet on the Eve of Bealtaine.

 

The rain taps on the cottage roof as the Eve of Bealtaine draws in.

All the dry, warm weather is ended abruptly with heavy, rhythmic rain.

The lushness of Bealtaine Eve here at Bealtaine Cottage is merely a prelude to Summer and all to come...

The lushness of Bealtaine Eve here at Bealtaine Cottage is merely a prelude to Summer and all to come…

 

This Summer’s Eve will be freshened with Atlantic rain and the dry earth will release scents of green…yes, indeed, colour has a scent!

Honesty, Lunaria in full bloom this day

Honesty, Lunaria in full bloom this day

 

Bealtaine is the oldest festival in all of Europe and was historically celebrated on the Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath.

looking deep into the gardens of Bealtaine

looking deep into the gardens of Bealtaine

 

This ancient ceremonial hill was, and remains, a sacred place and one of the most significant places of ancient ritual in all of Ireland.

Apple blossom on Bealtaine Eve at Bealtaine Cottage

Apple blossom on Bealtaine Eve at Bealtaine Cottage

 

This was the home of the Goddess Eriu…a place of High Kings and Tribes, a gathering place, where laws were passed and old allegiance re-newed!  

Bealtaine Eve by the Laurel Arch

Bealtaine Eve by the Laurel Arch

 

Bealtaine“Beacon-fires lit upon its summit could be seen over a quarter of Ireland, and in most directions the hills upon the horizons could relay the message of the beacon as far as the sea-coast.  The claim of Uisneach to be the centre of Ireland is thus quite justifiable, even though it may not be mathematically accurate.”[Macalister]

Bealtaine Eve in an Irish  Permaculture Garden.

Bealtaine Eve in an Irish Permaculture Garden.

 

In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer and the bright half of the year started with the Fire Festival at Bealtaine.

Seedlings and new growth

Seedlings and new growth

 

May Summer be long and joyful for you, with a great harvest all the way through.

Food Harvest 2020

DSCF1274

Small farms in Ireland are in a steady decline and have been for several decades now.

Violets growing all over the woodland at Bealtaine Cottage

Violets growing all over the woodland at Bealtaine Cottage

In fact farming is now referred to as an “industry”…a most illuminating use of language!

Buddha in the gardens

Buddha in the gardens

The pressure on small farmers to produce more and more, (mostly meat), is driving many off the land, as they find it difficult to compete with the bigger landowners and thus meat growers!

Sammy-Bear says "Hello!"

Sammy-Bear says “Hello!”

The countryside is fast losing vital habitat, as hedgerows are pulled out, trees felled and field size increased.

Apple blossom and Honesty flowers in bloom at Bealtaine Cottage

Apple blossom and Honesty flowers in bloom at Bealtaine Cottage

There is a government initiative behind this, of course…”Food Harvest 2020!”

Willow archways at Bealtaine cottage

Willow archways at Bealtaine cottage

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is Simon Coveney TD.

Water that is drinkable!

Water that is drinkable!

Minister Coveney  held a meeting on the 17th of April.

Sedge in flower today at Bealtaine

Sedge in flower today at Bealtaine

Invitations were issued to key stakeholders, including farm organisations, beef processors and relevant state agencies to a round table discussion on the future development of the Beef Sector, as it is referred to! 

Mixed planting in the very productive Potager Beds

Mixed planting in the very productive Potager Beds

Participants at this meeting were invited to discuss the government initiative, Food Harvest 2020.

Photinia and Kerria

Photinia and Kerria

This scheme was introduced by the Irish government to increase production of beef! (Ironic naming it “Food Harvest 2020!)

Golden Euphorbia in the early morning sunshine

Golden Euphorbia in the early morning sunshine

Now, read this statement from the Minister of Agriculture…using language of industry, markets and sport!

Commenting today on the initiative, Minister Coveney said

By some measures the beef sector is Ireland’s biggest indigenous industry, involving more than 100,000 farm families, and 8,000 jobs in processing, sales and marketing, with exports valued of more than €2 billion in 2013.  Food Harvest 2020 set an initial target of a 20% increase in the value of output for the beef sector. The target for beef exports has already been exceeded. 

The time is now right to sit down with key stakeholders in the sector, to consider the strategic approach  needed to support its development, using the best available market intelligence, and the newest technology and research to improve performance at all levels of the supply chain.  The beef sector makes a vital contribution to Irish agri food and to employment and the economy generally. I am convinced that with the right strategic approach and positive collaboration from all of the players, the beef sector in Ireland has a bright future.”

(https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/press/pressreleases/2014/april/title,74954,en.html)

Near the veranda at Bealtaine Cottage

Near the veranda at Bealtaine Cottage

All the while, loss of habitat is causing devastation!

Ferns and Spurge cover the floor of the Fairy Wood

Ferns and Spurge cover the floor of the Fairy Wood

Friends of the Earth, (FOE), have called on the Government to do a full Strategic Environmental Assessment of Food Harvest 2020. 

Buddha wears a crown of moss in the Bog Garden

Buddha wears a crown of moss in the Bog Garden

Other groups raising concerns with Food Harvest 2020 include:

The Irish Climate Justice Group

The Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership.

Friends of the Irish Environment and Allies

Buddha at Bealtaine

Buddha at Bealtaine

The European Commission has announced it is launching an investigation of whether proper procedures were followed.

The lower pond at Bealtaine Cottage, teeming with Newts, Frogs...

The lower pond at Bealtaine Cottage, teeming with Newts, Frogs…

Each and every photograph I post here on this website is taken at Bealtaine Cottage.

Stream flowing from the Spring Well through both ponds

Stream flowing from the Spring Well through both ponds

These three acres of abundance exist because I took the cattle off the land.

The Bog Garden at Bealtaine Cottage

The Bog Garden at Bealtaine Cottage

I would like to invite Minister Simon Coveney to Bealtaine Cottage to see what happens to land when it is allowed and nurtured  to re-generate!

The Lower Pond filled with clean Spring water that flows out into the River Shannon and on into the Atlantic Ocean!

The Lower Pond filled with clean Spring water that flows out into the River Shannon and on into the Atlantic Ocean!

We need, as a nation, to cherish our land and protect it for future generations.

Sammy by the pond

Sammy by the pond

We need to produce more Organic Food for our people rather than importing it…that means fruit and vegetables and grains!

Bealtaine Angel

Bealtaine Angel

Oh, by the way Minister…you may call it Food Harvest 2020, but, I and many like me, do not eat beef…not much food there then!

Earth Energy and the Divine Force

www.bealtainecottage.comCosmic energy is all around us.

www.bealtainecottage.comThere are days when one feels it powerfully as the day progresses.

www.bealtainecottage.comIt is often referred to as life force.

March 2014This is the powerful  energy that maintains the balance of our Earth, the Universe and beyond, into the Cosmos.

www.bealtainecottage.comThat energy can be felt in extraordinary ways here at Bealtaine Cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comMany visitors become overwhelmed by the force of the energy, often crying and needing to embrace.

www.bealtainecottage.comThose of you who have visited will have experienced this.

www.bealtainecottage.com 038For my part, I firmly believe in the manifestation of the Divine in all of Nature.

cropped-www-bealtainecottage-com-0362.jpgWhere Nature is abundant, the power of that Divine Energy is more strongly felt.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Earth Energy is  a powerful spiritual energy force.

www.bealtainecottage.com 030This can be felt and received directly from Mother Earth and all life forms growing from the Earth.

www.bealtainecottage.com 021There appears to be a shift in that energy…a very powerful shift!

www.bealtainecottage.com 012Can you feel it?

From A Window on Earth Day

DSCF1226

Spring progresses through the west of Ireland.

It may be Earth Day, but every day is so.

Earth is our only home.

DSCF1227Clear skies and sunshine have hastened the beginning of Summer.

DSCF1228I walked around the cottage this morning and snapped a picture of the view from each window.

DSCF1229Now that the warmer days are here, the cottage has gone into reversal, remaining cool and dark on hot days, when it is a relief to walk indoors.

DSCF1230It is evening as I write and the rain is falling, fast filling the barrels that have run dry over recent days.

DSCF1241I have lit the stove in the Lodge and am in the midst of painting the floor a nice shade of navy blue.

DSCF1236Toast and tea are filling the air with scent.

DSCF1237This little wood-burner more than earns its keep here at Bealtaine Cottage. DSCF1238Before I started painting the floor, clothes were drying beside the stove.

DSCF1240Life at the end of Empire is quite comfortable and cheap, as this little home crafted bench, sitting outside the lodge window, testifies.

DSCF1231The rain falls heavier…but back to the window views of this morning.

DSCF1232You can feel the cool of the interior…

DSCF1233A beautiful day to be sure, but night is falling and the kettle sings a song of tea and toast once more…

DSCF1234Let tomorrow be Earth day and the next day and…

Blessings from Bealtaine…

Keeping Hens, in the Town or Country

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 The hens have settled into their new home and are all laying.

Happy clucks and soft singing emanates out from the hen house.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe secure enclosure promises to keep the Fox family away…for I have lost too many of my lovely hens to Mr and Mrs Fox. www.bealtainecottage.comInside, the house is spacious and comfortable, with an upstairs and five windows in total!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe system is similar to the one I used in London for over a decade.

It is known as a deep litter system, using lots of straw.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe dirty straw is then used in the gardens as a mega-mulch!www.bealtainecottage.comThe deep litter system allows the girls foraging in a limited space and I collect greens for them on days when they are stay at home.

www.bealtainecottage.comDays when I am in the garden, the girls are allowed out under my watchful eye!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe mulching continues unabated, as the grass paths are mowed…grass clippings are piled onto cardboard as a weed suppressant, allowing newly planted trees to get a footing!

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is the system I have used for ten years and all the fruit trees are producing well.

www.bealtainecottage.comHonesty is in full bloom now and being enjoyed by the bees.

www.bealtainecottage.comMost of the early bees are bumble bees and are most prolific here at Bealtaine Cottage, where succession planting keeps all visitors fed from February through to the end of November.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe painted stone Cockerel stands guard by the front door of the cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comNewly mown paths allows everything alongside to look lush!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe Cherry tree, grown from seed, stands covered in blossom,  with the promise of lots of Cherries, some high for the birds and some low for me!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe Bealtaine Feast has begun!

www.bealtainecottage.comSeedlings are flourishing in the late Spring sunshine.

Easter in a Permaculture Garden…700th Post!

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This is what happens in Permaculture…surplus is fed back into the system or shared out!

www.bealtainecottage.com In this case there was a small surplus of blue paint…the outcome is what you see here!

www.bealtainecottage.comI woke to a magnificent sunrise this morning…Kilronan Mountain is shrouded in mist, so doesn’t appear to exist at all!

www.bealtainecottage.comBees are buzzing and birds are singing to herald in this wonderful Easter weekend here in the west of Ireland!

www.bealtainecottage.comWith the emergence of Spring, several weeks ago now, there has been an accumulation of heat and light working on the earth that promises an early Summer.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe promise of seedlings has excelled…it appears that every seed sown has germinated!

www.bealtainecottage.com Fortunately, now that I have five beautiful hens, seedlings that are excess to requirements can simply be fed to the hens as a wonderful source of nutrition.

www.bealtainecottage.comSome of the seedlings are also used by me in salads, again a wonderful source of nutrition!

www.bealtainecottage.comSlabs of bedrock, rising out of the earth all over the land here at Bealtaine, show off their pink colour in the drying air of late Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.comPrimroses play peek-a-boo on the driveway.

www.bealtainecottage.comCrocosmia show off a vibrant lime-green in the early morning light.

www.bealtainecottage.comBack to blue, because…

www.bealtainecottage.comI simply cannot resist it!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe vibrant pink of this Saxifrage has found a perfect bed in the gravel driveway…another reason why tarmac is a non-starter here!

www.bealtainecottage.comPrimroses aren’t the only things around here playing peek-a-boo!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe mist in the valley has cut off Kilronan Mountain.

www.bealtainecottage.comFurther up the gardens, behind where I now stand, Comfrey, Lovage, Fennel, Valerian and Chives are all about a foot high and looking very robust in the late Spring, early morning light.

www.bealtainecottage.comBy my feet, the Euphorbia flowers.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd indoors, on the dresser, reminders of Spring and Easter…

www.bealtainecottage.comHappy Easter to all!

PS: Next month will the my tenth anniversary of Bealtaine Cottage.

Today marks the 700th blog!

Lower The Lifeboats!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe economic crisis, that became evident to all in October 2008, has never really been discussed in the mainstream media. www.bealtainecottage.comMuch of what could, and should, have been put in place by national governments, to ameliorate the dreadful effects of this crisis, have been blatantly air-brushed from the media and political debate!

www.bealtainecottage.comWe continue to be sold the illusion of full employment for all.

www.bealtainecottage.comAs direct fallout from the media hype around this lie, many people are feeling inadequate and hopeless, believing it to be their fault that they are job-less.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe media has demonized the unemployed and disabled, citing examples of welfare abuse, whilst ignoring the very real struggles many good people face in their everyday lives!

www.bealtainecottage.comGovernments have introduced all kinds of hoops and hurdles, that intimidate those seeking employment, into a state of hopelessness and despair.

www.bealtainecottage.comLeadership, has and continues to, fail us!

www.bealtainecottage.comGovernments are aware that carbon reductions in relation to Climate Change cannot facilitate Economic Growth in the present paradigm, but resist any debate or discussion on this!

www.bealtainecottage.comGovernment GDP figures do not take into consideration any guide to National Well-being, including health, food, clean air, clean water etc.

www.bealtainecottage.comFracking is part of GDP for example, as that produces a commodity to be sold, but look at the utter shambles it leaves in its’ wake, for local people to have to deal with!

www.bealtainecottage.comPoisoned water, devastated land, sick children…the list goes on!

www.bealtainecottage.comWe are on-board a rudder-less ship with a drunk Captain and crew…time to lower the life-boats and row towards resilience, community and sustainable living!

www.bealtainecottage.comWhen this ship goes down it will take everyone on board with it!

Warm,Naked Earth

DSCF1040The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.
~Julian Grenfell

…except, in Permaculture gardens, little is naked, most is covered, yet the earth beneath the green mantle warms just the same.

DSCF1042April has set Spring firmly in place, with early sunrise and birdsong to lift the dullest spirit!

DSCF0999The boys awaken to the sunshine…

DSCF1006Honesty comes into flower…

DSCF1005Ribes sets the bees buzzing…apparently the Bumble Bee is losing numbers here in Ireland, as well as the UK, but certainly not at Bealtaine Cottage…the place is abuzz!

DSCF1016Amelanchier is coming into flower…yet more of the succession planting for the bees!

DSCF1002The playhouse is being transformed into a hen house…an upstairs~downstairs hen house to suit the due pecking order!

DSCF1020I’ve been busy with the brush and wood preservative, making sure that this little house sees another 10 years!

DSCF1009Chard has over-wintered well in the tunnel and will keep producing right up until the newly sown Chard is ready to pick…so very easy to grow!

DSCF1019Photinia, Red Robin has opened its new leaves…a burst of red!

DSCF1013Perennial Poppy has weathered the frost well!

DSCF1032Quince is in flower against the barn.

DSCF1030These gigantic shells have been moved to hang on sticks driven into the earth, making a contrast to the emerging green!

DSCF1029Spring is bursting forth into a riot of greens, as the first Cuckoo of the year heralds its summery arrival…earlier than last year!

DSCF1027The Fairy Wood is a mass of lime green Spurge!

DSCF1046The Lavender-painted Barn takes on a new look, making a wonderful backdrop to Spring.

DSCF1057Newly painted benches are ready to withstand another year of crazy Irish weather!

DSCF1056Primroses emerge in places where birds have dropped seed!

DSCF1039And the warm earth, no longer naked, continues to push forth magic!

We Are At War!

DSCF0805The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was started at the beginning of World war two, in Britain,

www.bealtainecottage.comThe people of Britain were urged to use any spare land to grow vegetables.

 www.bealtainecottage.comVictory gardens were planted everywhere…and I mean everywhere!

www.bealtainecottage.com 006All land was considered viable for planting, including gardens, lawns, parks, golf clubs and all public spaces even in the City of London, around the Tower of London, for example! 

www.bealtainecottage.com 004During the height of the war, when food was rationed through scarcity, there were 3.5 million allotments in Britain, producing over a million tonnes of vegetables and it was estimated that in 1944 British gardeners produced between 2 and 3 million tons of food overall!

www.bealtainecottage.com 034People were encouraged to keep small livestock and ‘Pig Clubs’ were formed as a way of best utilizing leftovers to feed the pigs.

Flo, with me holding GloriaHens and Ducks were kept for their valuable eggs.

Autumn in the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage 034The children growing up through this period of time were the healthiest ever reared in Britain.

apples and sunflowersMy mother was born and raised during this time and lived a remarkably long and healthy life!

Colette in one of the orchardsSo, now we are all in a state of financial hardship and unemployment, I have one simple question to pose.

harvestWhy cannot our governments introduce a similar campaign?

harvesting blackcurrantsWe are at war…with poverty!