Posted in Garden, Ireland, magic, Permaculture, snow, weather, Winter

And Then It Snowed…

Snow fell heavy on this Permaculture smallholding in the West of Ireland today and suddenly we were back in the midst of winter.

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The light changed, as the reflective quality of the snow worked it’s magic.

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“Is it snowing where you are? All the world that I see from my tower is draped in white and the flakes are coming down as big as pop-corns. It’s late afternoon – the sun is just setting (a cold yellow colour) behind some colder violet hills, and I am up in my window seat using the last light to write to you.”
Jean Webster

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For some childlike reason, it fills the heart with hope and delight, as though there is something else just waiting around the corner!

Walking over to the polytunnel, I felt a lightness in my step.

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Inside the tunnel there remained an early Spring, untouched by the snow and ice, with vegetables and herbs waiting to be harvested.

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“So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
In starry flake, and pellicle,
All day the hoary meteor fell;
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below,—
A universe of sky and snow!”
John Greenleaf Whittier

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Clumps of green, like this native Sedge, rise up from the snow, providing lots of shelter and warmth for birds and small mammals, especially on these cold, late winter nights.

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Snow changes everything!

Even the light on the veranda, as the snow on the roof encloses the space.

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Meanwhile, indoors, Charlie is watched over by a curious fox…a present I received recently.

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All is brighter in here too as the reflected light illuminates a shadowy cottage.

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It is in consideration of the bird life all around Bealtaine Cottage that I deliberately keep the cats indoors, especially in the morning and early afternoon.

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It’s easy to encourage them to do this by simply feeding them a large meal and allowing them to doss at leisure!

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As the evening draws in, the real snow magic begins to manifest…

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Night time across a snow covered landscape emits a strange light.

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“A few feathery flakes are scattered widely through the air, and hover downward with uncertain flight, now almost alighting on the earth, now whirled again aloft into remote regions of the atmosphere.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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These are special evenings, when the urge to walk in a snow covered land is pressing.

No torch to light the way, for one can see for miles around.

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The low energy light from the cottage emits an otherworldly glow.

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Magic…

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Blessings

Posted in Cats, Dogs, hibernation, Ireland, mountains, snow, Winter

Days of Hibernation

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Snow fell today.

As I stood by the front of the cottage, the mountain of Sliabh an Iarainn appeared to suddenly rise up in a shroud of white.

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More often than not it merges into the sky in shades of grey and sometimes blue, but today it stood out proud, gleaming white.

This mighty mountain, where once the ancients mined iron ore and ushered in the Iron Age, rises from the shores of Lough Allen to the North East, as Kilronan Mountain faces the cottage, sentinel-like, to the North.

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It too was dusted with a covering of light snow.

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I retreated to the warmth of the cottage and watched the snow fall.

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By the time I went into the bedroom to make the bed, Sammy-Bear had made a nest and curled up for the day…I exited the messy room and closed the door!

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Sammy-Bear often sleeps in my bedroom to escape Charlie, who often makes great sport from terrorizing his betters!

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Charlie and Jack are quite good friends now.

It’s a hierarchical relationship…Charlie’s the boss!

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The evening has drawn in fast…there is not much to notice yet in the stretch of the day…it slowly manifests when we are busy getting used to the new year.

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Now is the time to make the most of the days of hibernation left to us, for they are few in number…the Spring moves in faster than we realise.

Charlie knows this…in fact, looking into his eyes, I’d say that Charlie knows an awful lot!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Christmas, EU, midwinter, Winter, Yule

Circling Celebrations

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Winter is the time for comfort, for
good food and warmth, for the touch
of a friendly hand and for a talk beside
the fire:  it is the time for home.

Edith Sitwell

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                   And so the story of Autumn and Winter begins, not in cold and dark, but comfort and light.
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                                                 A time to take stock and nestle into home.
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                                 A time for simplicity of food before the excitement of Samhain.
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                We move inexorably through the year, circling around celebrations, family and friends.
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         This is what it means to be part of a society…planning and sharing the days we look forward to, as well as bringing camaraderie and support on days less well favoured. 
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                As I uploaded these photographs this morning, I enjoyed a sense of timelessness.
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            Even as I move around Bealtaine on my own, the sense of ‘with others’ pervades the air.
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                              Perhaps, in the world we cannot see, there are many around us.
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                                                             This would not surprise me.
                        My mother often said she felt surrounded by people here at this little cottage.
                                                                              I do too. 
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                                      “In a way Winter is the real Spring–the time when
the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.”

Edna O’Brien

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                                                           Like Edna, I look forward to the
quiet time of Winter, for the quiet solitude; a time for contemplation. 
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Bealtaine Cottage Good Life Website 

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subscription is 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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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Earth, Mother earth, Permaculture, snow, Sustainable Living, Winter

Earth Art

I work for the Great Earth Mother.

I feel honoured to capture images of her and post them through Bealtaine Cottage.

I believe that more and more of human life will come to honour the Great Mother through these images.

This is her Art…Earth Art.

(These images were captured here at Bealtaine Cottage during the Winter of 2010)

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“Remain faithful to the earth,

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my brothers and sisters,

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with the power of your virtue. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth. sun 19 12 10 032

Thus I beg and beseech you. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. 

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Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away.

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Lead back to the Earth the virtue that flew away,

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—back to the body,

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back to life,

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that it may give the Earth a meaning,

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a human meaning.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…I have posted over 120 videos about Permaculture, Sustainable living practice, planting, growing and living.

I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written almost 800 blogs on this Bealtaine Cottage website.

As an advocate for Mother Nature, Permaculture, Sustainable Living Practice, trees and wildlife, the smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage receives no grant aid from either the Irish government or EU.

Everything created here is self-funded, with a little support from occasional donations..

Any donation, no matter how small, goes a long way in sustaining and developing this site.

Blessings
Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Sustainable Living, Winter

Permaculture in Perpetuity

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Permaculture Gardens grow all the year around.

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The integration of water as a harvest system brings both light and warmth to the land. 

Intensive planting creates so many micro-climate zones that encourage and nurture plants even in the severest of  weather.

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This was never more apparent than on my garden walk yesterday…a fine day, after all the flooding and torrential rain experienced this week.

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Sheltered spots harboured mushrooms, many of which were edible.

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Wild herbs continue to flourish near waterways and on banks, particularly Wild Mint and Sorrel.

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Perpetual harvests of food, fuel and water, with little or no input at this stage of development, for once the sculpting and planting are complete, the eco-system of perpetual food and abundance takes over!

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Permaculture is a clever system which copies Mother Nature at her finest.

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There are few parts of the world where she is allowed to truly be herself.

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The Rainforest is one of the few remaining ecosystems where this remains governed by the Wise Mother.

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My journey into Permaculture began along practical lines, but as I became immersed in planting and sculpting, my life transformed with hardly a blip, as Sacred Permaculture merged the boundary lines between the practical and the ethereal.

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Perhaps the pictures I took yesterday best sum this up…walk with me…

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Thanks and blessings to those of you who support this site…it’s good to be appreciated XXX

Blessings

 

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Frugal Living, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Uncategorized, Winter

Money…Lots and Lots of Money!

midwinter cottage 013The New Year party dust has settled.

People have returned to work and credit card bills are dropping on doormats all over the  world.

The reality of living has dawned, after a long party season, where many have struggled to just buy necessities.

midwinter cottage 006Recent figures released have stated that the rich have got richer and the poor poorer, with the severest erosion of the middle classes ever witnessed.

Profits announced by corporations defy any understanding of mathematics.

www.bealtainecottage.com 011I read the other day, that Bill Gates earns more profit on his investments, than himself and Melinda can insert into their foundation.

Bill has not actually worked in 14 years.

All this as many workers, already working overtime,  are having to apply for welfare and charity to keep their families out of extreme penury.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004I do not understand this form of economics and am not ashamed to say so…I really do not understand!

Here at Bealtaine I have lit the stove, on a grey, wet and windy day in early January.

As the fire roared up under a spitting kettle, my thoughts turned to those who rely solely on fossil fuel or electricity for warmth.

www.bealtainecottage.com 025Escalating costs for fuel is now prohibiting many from keeping a warm home.

Governments have failed, to put in place any substantial remedial action, that may help alleviate the burden of fuel costs.

There have been small measures, like attic insulation offered to those on minimum income…little indeed as the energy costs spiral.

www.bealtainecottage.com 022The cost of wind-generated energy must be very small indeed, compared to say, Nuclear.

I say this because I witness the one man in a white van, who services the Wind Turbines on the mountain opposite Bealtaine Cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.com 030He attends to these as and when they need attention…not on a daily basis, by any means.

I imagine  the maintenance costs, say, compared to power stations, are very minimal!

So where does the escalating costs of that electricity, generated by those turbines, actually go?

www.bealtainecottage.com 004There appears to be a lot of money in the world, with but a few holding the purse-strings…and that makes no sense at all!

We are surrounded by solutions to the most grievous and pressing poverty.

We are surrounded by wealth, held tightly by the few.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, celebrations, Cottage, Frugal Living, Lifestyle, New Year, Uncategorized, Winter

New Moon, New Year…All Change!

www.bealtainecottage.com 005The time of a New Moon is a time to set intention for the coming month.

We start this New Year with a New Moon in Capricorn, a very auspicious beginning, a fresh start!

It is rare that a New Year begins at the same time as a Lunar New Year, so, in preparation, I am clearing space all around the cottage, clearing away the decorations of Yuletide and opening up lots of space to embrace this new energy!

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This New Moon brings with it hope for those feeling tired and low by all the negativity experienced over the past year; change is on the horizon.

This is a powerful time to make resolutions and implement change!

www.bealtainecottage.com 001This is a rare opportunity to begin anew…a time to clear all old intentions that never materialized and start afresh! www.bealtainecottage.com 002The last time we had a New Moon at the start of the New Year, was nineteen years ago, in the early nineties.

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New Moon, New Year

The New Moon greets the New Year
Saying “let go of the past”
For the things that are worth keeping
Will in their beauty last-
Yet that that does not serve us
Must be released and shed
The fear, anger and patterns
Which hog space in our head-
And when we call our Spirit
To release them to the Earth
The New Moon greets us with her light
And offers us rebirth.

Jen Reich
Flagstaff, AZ 12-28-13

http://poetry-not-poverty.blogspot.ie/

A truly beautiful website filled with inspirational poetry by Jen…

www.bealtainecottage.com 006However, it won’t just be one New Moon in January, but two!

The month comes to a close with a second New Moon!

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Energy begins to seep back into the earth and plants.

Winter is not yet over, by any means and frost can be devastating, but the little signs of hope are there… Daffodils have begun to throw up green shoots!

www.bealtainecottage.com 014Light has begun to play with shadows here in the shower room (there is no bath in this tiny cottage!) and even the hanging crystals are catching and reflecting the strengthening sun.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004Fruit continues to occupy its Yuletide celebratory place on tables throughout Bealtaine.

Time to eat healthy food and build health for the year ahead!

www.bealtainecottage.com 011Time to clear out the old and bring in the new and time to clear the laundry basket…I wash clothes daily, for I do not possess a washing machine, so will spend a little more time than usual to ensure an empty basket for New year!

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The lengthening of the days has already begun.

Posted in celebrations, Christmas, Cottage, Gardens, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Thoughts, Thrift, Vegan, Winter

Lifting the Spirits

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Midwinter is over.

For many the celebration of Christmas has begun.

Last minute frenetic shopping today and tomorrow…

The days here at Bealtaine are beginning to lengthen.

Not tangible as yet, but optimism for more daylight has taken hold and sometimes that is enough…simply knowing that the darkness has passed.

The cottage remains in a post-midwinter party state, with chairs pushed back and floor-space revealed.

It may be a day or two before this is sorted, for I want to escape outdoors, despite the stormy weather!

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The lush greenery on the mantelpiece will stay in place for as long as it retains life.

Replacing the candles daily is a small task and keeps the soft light there to lift the spirits.

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A small sadness pervades the air, now that family and friends have gone.

We all enjoyed the coming together of our midwinter feast, with music and bonfire and soft candlelight…a magical time that lifted the spirit.

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Rich food and drink will now give way to simple soups and tea…a sort of cleansing of the palette and system, together with late winter walks, to appease the feasting of recent days.

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Venturing out this morning, into the wind-driven rain, fresh in from the Atlantic, amid the sounds of birds fighting over food…time to scatter the scraps from the feast around the gravel by the cottage for my hungry and cold feathered friends.

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Parsley, Kale and Chard all continue to grow abundantly in the Potager beds…no sign of prolonged frost to diminish these green gifts.

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The Chard is particularly beneficial to the body at this time of year, as it contains generous amounts of both Vitamin C and Iron…the Vitamin C is necessary for the body to absorb the Iron.

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I use the Kale in the juicer each day…a great supplement to my diet, as it charges my energy!

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Do you recall the ground I mulched with cardboard and shreddings?

Well, here it is this morning and as you can see it has now transformed itself into a bed ready to be planted out in the Spring…how easy was that?

There are several hundred blogs on this website about mulching and preparing ground for planting using the easiest methods that I have tried and tested.

To access them simply type key words into the Search Bar at the top of this page!

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Blessing, celebrations, Celts, Inspiration, Permaculture, Winter

Midwinter Blessings

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The ancients believed winter, especially Midwinter, was a time of tremendous spiritual power.

And so the shortest day has passed and we are looking forward, at last, to the ascending sun, from tomorrow.

The greenery on the mantelpiece will stay a few days longer, as the days slowly lengthen.

Work on the potager beds and orchards begins in the next week or so.

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Cloud and mist have enveloped Kilronan Mountain today, between snow falls and dark skies…the sun has shone intermittently.

Of the Solstices and Equinoxes, the Winter Solstice was the most important among the Ancients, since it marked the rebirth of the sun after the shortest day.

The worst of the winter is yet to come though…Kale and Parsley stand proud in the Potager beds, not yet diminished by prolonged frost.

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The small Yuletide tree, at the end of the veranda, tied to the supports, stands stout against the wind and storms of the past week.

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The sky changes dress in spectacular fashion from winter to summer and all in-between!

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And jewels of melted sleet decorate the skeletal Fennel.

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Yule marks the rebirth of the sun.

It is a potent symbol of death and rebirth – going from the darkness into the light.

Yule starts before the Solstice and continues on until New Year’s Day.

Midwinter Blessings to you all XXX

Posted in celebrations, Christmas, Country Living, Inspiration, Ireland, Winter

Magic Everywhere!

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Something strange happened last night, for I slept so very deeply and woke early.

It was as though an enchantment had worked a magic everywhere!

I say this, because I spoke with friends this morning, who had similar experiences.

All day today, time has seemed to move so very slowly, though all year it has been remarked that time appears to be speeding up.

Perhaps there is magic in the date…

www.bealtainecottage.com 010This morning has witnessed me once more standing atop the range in the kitchen, armed with a crowbar and quite suddenly realizing success, with the sounds of solid chunks of resinous soot falling down the immense cavity…the chimney is now cleared and the stove, once more, warms the cottage.

cropped-www-bealtainecottage-com-0451.jpgSoft light from candles illuminates the descending night and soup simmers in the pot.

Jan 12 Bealtaine Cottage 001Who shall describe the inexpressible tenderness and immortal life of the grim forest, where Nature, though it be midwinter, is ever in her spring, where the moss-grown and decaying trees are not old, but seem to enjoy a perpetual youth.~ Henry David Thoreau

www.bealtainecottage.com 002“What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.

It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.”

― Agnes M. Pahro

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, Cats, Christmas, Climate, Country Living, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Wild Flowers, Winter

Midwinter in an Irish Cottage

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Rain is falling, softly, silently, onto a warm land.

The air is still.

Birds sing out loud.

A touch of Spring is in the air as Midwinter approaches.

It often happens this way, birds singing in the still air near Solstice.

The cold is saved for January…the biting winds that bring the snow.

I have spent much time indoors, making cards and packaging seeds.

www.bealtainecottage.com 001This is a quiet, yet productive time, a chance to reflect as work proceeds.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004Yesterday was the last day for posting abroad in time for Christmas.

I am already thinking of the New Year, as I make these cards and planning out a few lovely walks to enjoy over Midwinter.

Walking at this time of year really clears the head and clarifies life in general.

There is a silence around Solstice that creates harmony in all things.

www.bealtainecottage.com 015The chimney in the kitchen remains blocked.

Armed with a borrowed crowbar, I shall attempt excavation of resin like tar this morning…something I’m not looking forward to!

Still, once cleared, the stove will heat the cool air and a sense of Yuletide be conjured up in a less smoky kitchen!

www.bealtainecottage.com 006The air is so still that even the Rocket Stove smokes and billows!

www.bealtainecottage.com 005After harvesting the seed from the Lunaria, translucent seed heads decorate the window ledge in the Lodge, and…

www.bealtainecottage.com 010Outdoors, in sheltered spots, the empty seed heads create interest and beauty…

www.bealtainecottage.com 008Despite the delicate beauty, the little flowers that produced these seed-heads are strong and enduring!

www.bealtainecottage.com 009Sheltered in the Laurel Archway…

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Climate, Cottage, Country Living, Current Affairs, Food, Frugal Living, Inspiration, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Winter

Fighting Poverty in Ireland!

 
www.bealtainecottage.com 003It’s a hard winter for many people across the western world as the recession digs deep.
As the utility companies have increased their charges, wages have remained static and in some cases fallen.  
As I predicted, food costs have risen and fuel charges increased.
www.bealtainecottage.com 002For myself, I am having a “Pay As You Go,” electricity meter installed, as the bi-monthly bills have created financial chaos in my accounting!
www.bealtainecottage.com 016Even with this, the Electricity company, (State-owned…that’s me, by the way!), charges 37 cents per day for the meter.
So, before the light is switched on, the monthly charge is over 11 euros!
Add that up over a year, over 135 euros, and the meter is paid for…however, the cost continues, year after year, so that’s profiting from people who are struggling!
Politicians have not a clue!
www.bealtainecottage.com 006However, I am not a woman who embraces being a victim and so I am now very pro-active in finding and using alternatives (I can afford), to utilities. (No, I cannot afford wind power.)
Oh, how this little Rocket Stove works at boiling my kettle…all day boiling!
www.bealtainecottage.com 012As I type I hear the low whistle from outside, reminding me that tea, coffee and home-cooking is available, for  the no-cost of a few bits of dry wood, my rebel heart lifts…
www.bealtainecottage.com 010As Alice Walker once wrote, “You Can’t keep A Good Woman Down!” (Brilliant short stories by the way!)
Time to get a big pot of soup started!
Posted in Animals, Art, Bealtaine Cottage, Buddha, Cats, celebrations, Childhood, Christmas, Crafts, Inspiration, Life, Personal, photography, Spirituality, Thoughts, Winter

Midwinter Cottage

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The air is still.
The storm has passed. 
Stillness and silence pervades the cottage.
Jack is in his bed, and the boys continue to doss away the morning in the Lodge.
A midwinter scene repeated all across the northern hemisphere.
midwinter cottage 006Someone remarked on the increasing silence they noticed in the world around them.
Midwinter is a silent time, suffused with echoes and occasional sounds from strange places.
Places that are more difficult to pinpoint on the landscape…it’s a trick played on us by Mother Nature as she paces the dormitories of sleep and hibernation.
midwinter cottage 014Candles illuminate the darkness, dispelling matt grey for moving shadows.
Jingles of Christmas on the radio, some lovely, most rapaciously dreadful, urging the listener to get out now and spend, spend, spend!
And so the radio is switched off and music switched on, low and evocative.
Midwinter enchants us all with memories of stillness and light, fires and food…times past, selected for our personal album of memories.
midwinter cottage 005I found this photograph recently.
It was taken around Midwinter, in a photo-booth in London, when I first ventured away from home and Ireland.
Scents were what I most missed.
The scents of home, like turf and coal smoke, wisping out of chimney pots on rows of terraced houses.
London was filled with new, more exotic scents, especially places like Portobello Road Market on a Saturday morning, where Patchouli oil perfume lingered in the air.
midwinter cottage 004Working patchwork, brings me back to early days, in London and the sheer wealth of fabric shops and stalls, Laura Ashley and the love of William Morris retro!
midwinter cottage 007Colours, fabrics and textures continue to fascinate.
midwinter cottage 003Natural fabrics hold most memory…perhaps because they are from the natural world, where energy is hosted.
midwinter cottage 009Sackcloth and old lace cover a jam jar, filled with Honesty.
midwinter cottage 010Cotton gingham of various colours in the kitchen.
midwinter cottage 012Willow, wood and clay pottery, mugs and bowls.
midwinter cottage 015The morning, washed by soft midwinter light…not to be bought and packaged for Christmas, but absorbed by the celebratory soul.
midwinter cottage 013Blessings from this midwinter cottage…
 
Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Culture, Earth, Ireland, Thoughts, Winter

New Moon and Sirius Rising

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Last night, as I walked around the barn, I noticed the New Moon in the clear skies above the cottage, a beautiful prelude to the storm that swept in from the Atlantic in the early hours of this morning.

www.bealtainecottage.com 012This is the time before Midwinter, when clear skies above this small cottage, adds a magical touch to the darkest time of the year.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004The sky at dusk revealed the waxing crescent moon, mystical and delightful alongside the ever brilliant Venus.

www.bealtainecottage.com 014There, high above me in the eastern sky, was the Dog Star, Sirius.

The dark skies of Winter hold a special fascination for me and perfect star-gazing conditions.

 www.bealtainecottage.com 002Looking into the eastern sky in the early evening, I saw mythological Orion’s belt and the three stars that make it up.

Just below this was the Dog Star, Sirius.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Sirius is one of the brightest stars in the night sky, as it is the closest to Earth.

www.bealtainecottage.com 005According the the Ancient Egyptians, Sirius is the celestial representation of the Goddess, Isis.

Isis was the foremost goddess in all of Egyptian Mythology.

www.bealtainecottage.com 009Clannad produced an album entitled “Sirius” and  here is the title track…one of my all time favourite pieces of music…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twuVcll28EQ

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, Cats, Country Living, Garden, Herbs, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Winter

Early December in a Permaculture Garden

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The shelled seed-heads of Lunaria… beautiful, ethereal, delicate additions to winter foliage arrangements.

The seeds are now packed and ready to post out all over the world.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004Lunaria, commonly known as Honesty, is an early flowering annual flower, but, once seeded into your garden, spreads and re-seeds itself with wild abandon!

www.bealtainecottage.com 005This simple arrangement stands in a recycled, lace covered, jam jar!

www.bealtainecottage.com 011I went shopping yesterday, to the second-hand market and bought this fruit bowl for 4 euros.

I love the simple sponged design, beautiful in its simplicity.

www.bealtainecottage.com 014The veranda has been swept this morning…but don’t look too closely, as I didn’t move the clothes drier!

www.bealtainecottage.com 028The wheelbarrow holds ashes from the stoves and waste from the barn floor, ready to be spread over compost heaps, flower beds and around fruit trees.

Winter is a time of spreading and stacking, as tidy-ups take place and waste accumulates.

www.bealtainecottage.com 016The weather has been so very mild, that some flowers in the gardens continue to bloom, like this Fuchsia, with the Lemon Balm looking ready for harvest just behind it!

www.bealtainecottage.com 021And this Borage, growing, this morning, in the north garden of the cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.com 017It’s amazing to be able to venture into the gardens in early December and pick Lemon Balm for tea!

www.bealtainecottage.com 019Even the boys are enjoying the balmy winter weather, as Che-Mousey rolls on the gravel by my feet!

www.bealtainecottage.com 023Blackbirds have been feasting on Pyracantha berries…

www.bealtainecottage.com 027New growth breaks through on the old Buddleia…

www.bealtainecottage.com 022And Slieve Aneirin sits washed in the cool blue of a winter’s morning.

Blessings X

Seeds for growing Lunaria are available on this website…just click on the link…

http://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-from-bealtaine-cottage/

If you wish me to post seeds, from you, to a friend or loved one, cards are available on this link…

http://bealtainecottage.com/gifts-send-a-card/

Posted in Cats, Garden, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Spirituality, Winter

A Good Barter

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The boys have lain on the sofa for much of the day, listening to music of one sort and another, as I have worked around them.

www.bealtainecottage.com 006The sewing machine in the Lodge has been clicking away, as I sort and sew material into pillow-cases.

It’s difficult to find good cotton pillow-cases, unless one is prepared to visit the city and a shop like Laura Ashley…in my dreams, methinks!

www.bealtainecottage.com 007Living on limited means, far from any city, just about means making it oneself!

I prefer to sew anyway, as the quality of items can be more easily regulated.

As the light of day fades into evening, other work comes into focus…

www.bealtainecottage.com 014Making sure there are plenty of logs in the baskets for the evening, along with tidying up the woodpile to make it safe from collapse!

www.bealtainecottage.com 025This is just one of several, that keep getting bigger, as my friend brings me more logs, in return for home-made wine!

www.bealtainecottage.com 012I took a walk around the upper gardens just as the light was fading.

www.bealtainecottage.com 018The leaves have almost finished their drop and cover the earth with such colour, that I have no intention of tidying them up…anywhere!

www.bealtainecottage.com 027Back indoors it’s time to switch on the main lamps and make a cosy nest for the evening.

www.bealtainecottage.com 030My little headless Venus is complete with her autumn face of berries, as the light fades into Midwinter darkness.

www.bealtainecottage.com 031Stay warm this evening…Blessings X

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Just a few left of the second and last print run…

http://bealtainecottage.com/christmas-book/

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Fairies, Folklore, Winter

Ghosts

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Winter has finally gripped the land.

Frost has dipped icy tentacles into the earth itself, no longer content to dust the trees and whiten the slates.

www.bealtainecottage.com 016The evening sky turns a cold blue.

Freezing, white mist swirls up the valley from the deep waters of Lough Allen.

Winter is here!

www.bealtainecottage.com 017Sliabh An Iarainn Mountain catches the dying rays of a winter sun.

Cleaving  the south eastern shores of Lough Allen, Sliabh An Iarainn sits humped and heavy, a brooding reminder of ancient tales and times.

 Ancient  legend tells of the Tuatha De Danann landing in Ireland in this very place.

 Descending in a thick mist, the Tuatha De Danann found the mountain and the lough.

The mountain contained deposits of iron, and so the magical people proceeded to forge the first metal weapons in Ireland.

There followed a mighty battle with the Tribe of the Formorians, nearby at Magh Tuireadh…and so the legends began.

www.bealtainecottage.com 010Willful and determined, like ancient tribes who once battled on this land, Fuchsia continues to hold their flowers, in sheltered parts of the gardens.

There are pockets of Bealtaine that refuse to give up Summer, protecting and nurturing flowers through to Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.com 001Kilronan Mountain holds sway to the north of Bealtaine Cottage, washed with shades of purple in the early evening thin winter air.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Of all of Ireland, the mountains and valleys of this part hold most history, legend and mystery.

The Tuatha De Danann, as legend tells us, never died, but were banished underground.

They became the Sidhe…the Fairies.

On an evening like this, the ethereal energy of the Tuatha De Danann is almost tangible…

 

A video from Bealtaine…Towards Midwinter…enjoy X

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOu72QAAkro

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Blessings X

Posted in Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Crafts, Gardens, Inspiration, Life, Permaculture, Thoughts, Winter

Fairy Lights

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Winter sunlight turns bare branches, that drip with rain, into fascinating fairy lights.

www.bealtainecottage.com 013Silver prisms of fantasy, dangling precariously from thin Birch trees.

www.bealtainecottage.com 012The days of light and dark are confused with bright full moons, illuminating the bare landscape…

www.bealtainecottage.com 015This is a delightful time of year, as the sun makes its steady progress downwards, ever down…

www.bealtainecottage.com 022Light is delicate and unpredictable, sometimes overwhelming in its glow, at others, just a whisper of the day.

www.bealtainecottage.com 011Entire worlds are captured in water droplets.

Fitting too, as water and sun give life.

www.bealtainecottage.com 026The coppicing continues and long branches are hauled up from the gardens to the dry environment of the veranda.

This is next year’s fuel for the stove.

www.bealtainecottage.com 036Seeds continue to be sorted and packaged.

www.bealtainecottage.com 037These are special little packs requested for Yuletide gifts.

www.bealtainecottage.com 038Poppies are easy to sow…simply sprinkle!

www.bealtainecottage.com 029Most of the second run of Christmas booklets have been posted… all over the world! http://bealtainecottage.com/christmas-book/

The few remaining will not sit here for long.

www.bealtainecottage.com 020It’s strange sorting seeds at this time of year, as it seems that summer was only yesterday…gosh but the time passes quickly!

Posted in Birds, Fairies, Herbs, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Trees, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Winter

Overwintering in the Lodge

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For the past few evenings I have lit the stove in the Lodge and turned down the sofa bed to make a cosy sleeping area that is easy and cheap to heat!
The little wood-burning stove that seems to emanate warmth from one or two small logs, is economic and easy to maintain, making this a snug and cosy place to overwinter.
The layers of insulation packed into the walls of this little wooden cabin, makes for excellent heat and maximum comfort!
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The nights are drawing in fast now and the ice, frost and mist has been a nightly feature for about a week.
Autumn appears to continue during the day and Winter holds sway from darkness onward.
www.bealtainecottage.com 005This morning was particularly beautiful, with swirls of icy mist hanging over the mountains and the air still and warming around the cottage.
www.bealtainecottage.com 010The berries on the Pyracantha are turning deep in colour, as the Blackbird and Thrush both eye them up!
www.bealtainecottage.com 012The Larch tree betond the Lodge is getting ready to shed its needles and the Purple Beech in the foreground hangs onto her leaves well into the middle of Spring!
Autumn is colourful and delightful and definitely my favourite season!
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Parsley grows through the winter in this old, bottom-less bread-bin, tucked into the raised stone bed…a good source of Iron and Vitamin C.
 
 
www.bealtainecottage.com 015Tiny Lichens are beginning to grow on this Birch tree…I love the delicate colours of the Lichens!
www.bealtainecottage.com 017Bamboo and Beech compliment each other on the driveway…both are a source of energy and usefulness at Bealtaine. Bamboo lends itself well to many projects and makes fantastic tapers for using in the cottage, between the fire and candles!
www.bealtainecottage.com 019Bamboo is also a wonderful medium to use when making wreathes, as it is very pliable when first cut and will bend into a circular shape with ease.
It can then be wrapped around with other plants and wood.
 
www.bealtainecottage.com 018Beech, seen here with Forsythia, grows into fairy tree shapes, all twisted and gnarled, reminiscent of the Arthur Rackham Fairy story  illustrations…these are indeed beautiful trees!
www.bealtainecottage.com 022Red Dogwood comes into its own at the entrance to the Fairy Wood.
Do I believe in Fairies?
Indeed I do…don’t you?
www.bealtainecottage.com 027Can you believe these cheeky little Perlagoniums, refusing to give up and go to sleep?
Tomorrow I shall lift them from their big pot and put them to bed for the winter!
Posted in Animals, Cats, Climate, Country Living, Crafts, Dogs, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Winter

Missy Cat and Weird Weather

A snowy morning at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland

Last night the rain fell hard, in fact it rained in a thunderous fashion for around four hours.

Somewhere in the midst of the downpour I went to sleep, safe in the knowledge that with the heavy rain came the assurance of a snow free morning…I was wrong!

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture smallholding in the snowThis morning the ground was covered with snow and so it continues.

How this happened is weird to say the least, but then the weather systems across the world have descended into chaos…nothing is as it used to be!

missy cat at bealtaine CottageMissy cat is very reluctant to venture out this morning.

She is making protesting meows each time I open the back door, as though to say, “Shut the door, it’s too cold!”

Missy Cat, Director of Bealtaine CottageI obey, She who must be obeyed!

Would you contemplate crossing her?

She bites those who attempt it!

Multifuel stove in the sitting room at Bealtaine CottageI have lit both stoves in the cottage and resigned myself to a day indoors…apart from walking Jack.

Flo, on the other hand, takes her wilful self for as many walks as she decides to!

light a candle at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandAs always, I have lit a candle for those I pray for. It’s also a good way of being mindful of concerns and wishes.

The Craft room at Bealtaine CottageI have some Lavender Hearts to sew, so I will be kept busy for most of the day.

I hope you’re warm and cosy wherever you are!

Posted in Angels, Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, celebrations, Christmas, Cottage, Dogs, Fairies, Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Vegan, Winter

Merry Tidings from Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland

Christmas eve moon above Bealtaine Cottage

The Christmas Eve moon rises over Bealtaine Cottage.

The air is still and warm, yet the clouds rush by in the upper sky.

moon rising over Bealtaine CottageThe Blackbird calls a final song on this eve.

The cottage lies snug and warm.

Christmas Eve, 2012 at Bealtaine CottageAll is well, all is as it should be.

Dogs are walked and cats sleep in the warmest corners of the cottage.

Christmas Angel 2012The Angel dances on the tree.

Cottage Christmas in IrelandA vegetable soup simmers atop the stove.

Wood-smoke fills the air outside.

Bealtaine Cottage interiorThe stillness is magical.

Angel EveContentment reigns.

Happy Christmas.

Peace and joy to you this eve.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Family, Folklore, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Spirituality, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Winter

Winter Solstice Gathering at Bealtaine Cottage

winter solstice 2012 at Bealtaine Cottage

Fires are lit and food prepared for this, the longest night of the year…the Gathering at Bealtaine Cottage.

Loved ones meet again to join the celebration from as far away as Canada, London, Belfast and Dublin.

Missy, the solstice catA night to gather around the fire and light the candles around the home.

Missy has found her warm spot and will not be moved…we celebrate around her!

The Solstice Feast at Bealtaine CottageAs preparations for the winter feast are under way, we join together in toasting the year and the time to come.

In Latin, solstice means sun set still. This is the still night, the silent night, the longest night of the year…

The turn of the wheelWinter Solstice is the great stillness before the turning, as the days grow longer.

yuletide tree decked with lights at Bealtaine CottageThe cottage is small, so the tree stands on the veranda outside the window.

This is the celebration of the silent night, a sacred time of rest before the awakening, and the slow build toward longer days.

solstice treeThe human race has observed the solstice for millennia.

This night is a continuation of that sacred tradition.

Inside the cottage Tomorrow we are past the dark and facing into the light.

The ascent to Spring will begin once more.

Happy Solstice Everyone!

Posted in celebrations, Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Family, Food, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, Thoughts, Thrift, Vegan, Vegetarian, Winter, Woodland

An Alternative Christmas

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture porch

The frost has settled on the ground all around the cottage.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardenThe land looks very much like a Christmas card, with frost sparkling in the early morning sun.

Bealtaine Cottage Midwinter GardenThere is something so captivating about the light at midwinter…it really is quite magical!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Garden at MidwinterThe sad thing is that much of the magic has disappeared from Christmas.

This special time has become so very commercialised, that it seems near impossible to avoid the frenzy that is now Christmas!

However, in recent years I have attempted to do just that, and this year I feel comfortable with my own very special take on the festivities.

I am a baby vegan…just starting this wonderful journey.

Previous to that I was a vegetarian, so meat has been off the menu for some time now.

This dietary choice takes me out of one Christmas loop.

So, instead of a massive dinner that used to leave me wedged onto a sofa for most of the evening, stomach heavy with over-indulging, I cook up an absolute feast of dishes that serve as a dinner and evening buffet for family and friends.

Xmas eve Dec 11 001As it is a special feast, all who attend bring a special dish of food, so the term feast is justly applied.

Gifts are exchanged, but they are special, hand-made or locally sourced gifts.

This year I have made each family member an album of photographs of special memories.

A painting of a beloved pet was commissioned for another dinner guest.

An Irish woollen scarf has been knitted for another…and so on.

September 2011 Permaculture Cottage 010There are lots of home made wines and liqueurs, all made from fruit and flowers grown here at Bealtaine and none of which will cause a hangover!

Games are played…most of which end in silliness!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture stoveAs there is no television we talk…something that the television usually does for us!

In the afternoon we all go for a walk in the woods down near Lough Key…usually with no-one else around.

“Who shall describe the inexpressible tenderness and immortal life of the grim forest, where Nature, though it be midwinter, is ever in her spring, where the moss-grown and decaying trees are not old, but seem to enjoy a perpetual youth.” ~Henry David Thoreau

At this special time of year, in the deep midwinter, there is beauty and joy and friendship.

Money cannot purchase any of these gifts.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, Christmas, Country Living, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Thrift, Uncategorized, Winter

Kandinsky, Stars and Solstice Preparations

Bealtaine Cottage, Midwinter 2012

As the winter moves towards the Solstice and Midwinter festivities grow closer, cleaning and painting the cottage is taking up most of my time.

Doors have been painted, along with window frames and furniture.

Bealtaine Cottage PantryThe thing is, once started, painting just goes on and on, as more things look grubby alongside freshly painted wood!

This is the newly decorated pantry…with a piece of art on the wall by Kandinsky, one of my favourite artists.

Bealtaine Cottage Shower roomThe shower room, (I don’t have a bath), was also given a complete makeover, including some stencilling on the walls.

The stencil was cut out of cardboard for free.

Bealtaine Cottage VerandaThis morning here in the west of Ireland is filled with sun, clear skies and frost.

The weather has been frosty, but mild enough to keep the blooms on the Geraniums.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture midwinter 2012It’s the kind of day that should be bottled and sold as perfect Midwinter weather!

I have just started putting out food for the birds, in the form of rolled barley.

Barley grows here in the British Isles, so there is little transportation involved.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture midwinter 2012The birds love this and one big sack from the farm store costs less than 10 euros and lasts all winter.

There is plenty of food in the garden, but this is a supplement as many small birds use Bealtaine Cottage as a food stop.

Posted in Animals, Cats, Climate, Cottage, Food, Garden, Herbs, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, photography, Smallholding, Winter

Winter in a Permaculture Garden…and Sam!

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.

Missy followed me to the tunnel.

Her visit to the Vet’s on Monday has perked her up a bit…