Posted in Angels, Books, Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Garden, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Summer, Woodland

Morning

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Morning in the west of Ireland on a perfect day in late June.

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 021The back door of the cottage is open; wood pigeons call softly to one another as blackbirds swoop noisily in and out of the blackcurrant bushes, feasting on the heavily laden stems.

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 022Morning…full of stillness and promise, the prelude to a hot, dry day of high summer.

The cottage will remain a cool sanctuary, as the heat of the day rises golden over the hill of Ballyfermoyle.

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 024Birds will swoop along paths of shade, wings outstretched catching the earthy updraft of chill. 

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 026“Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill.”
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird  

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 031“Summer set lip to earth’s bosom bare, and left the flushed print in a poppy there.”
― Francis Thompson 

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 028The hill at the back of the cottage captures the sounds of the birds, holding them close before echoing onto the walls and through the open door into the cool recesses of the stone.

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 029Leaving this sacred place would never sit easy in my heart, for all that is Bealtaine Cottage has been co-created with the great Mother: Earth, Gaia, Nature…whatever insufficient name we draw upon to express the mystery of the Divine.

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 033My dream to plant a forest will come to pass…in some divine way… 

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 036I dream and manifest the vision in sleep and wakedness.

One day, a beautiful morning such as this will shine through onto a young forest floor, illuminating the darkness of a greed-stricken world. 

Posted in Cats, celebrations, Cottage, Garden, Imbolc, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Saint Bridget Cross, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

It Looks Like Spring!

Toad in Bealtaine permaculture garden

The sun shone all morning and there was a hint of Spring in the air.

Mr Toad…not a real toad, you understand…caught the rays of the late winter sun and looked quite animated.

Spring is officially welcomed into the west of Ireland on February the 1st, Imbolc, Brigid’s day.

I would not be surprised to see it arrive early!

Certainly here at Bealtaine Cottage, the Daffodils are ready to open flower and Primroses are out.

permaculture tunnel at Bealtaine CottageClearing the polytunnel formed part of this morning’s work, one of the first dry, sunny  mornings in some time.

This involved scraping the weeds off the paths and composting them.

Then the top layer of last year’s straw was cleared from the topsoil and spread on the beds. it doesn’t take long and the result is worth the small effort.

I use an Oscillating Hoe, which although expensive to buy is a great investment, as it saves a lot of hard work.

The winter has been mild and most of the herbs in the tunnel have kept their leaves, with Fennel beginning to grow already and broccoli making a good show.

January in the permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageThe garden took on a mantle of life in the sunshine and the birds all appeared to be very lively.

A beautiful fox has made an appearance over recent nights and even sauntered along the front of the cottage in broad daylight yesterday morning.

I think it’s a vixen as I hear her calling at night from the hill of Ballyfermoyle behind the cottage.

sam playing in bealtaine cottageMeanwhile, indoors, Sam continues to eat, drink, play and sleep.

I make sure that little Flo stays in the lodge with Sam and Che, as being white furred and young, could fall prey to a very beautiful but hungry fox.

I lost a beautiful marmalade mouser called Ossian to the fox some years ago and it was a dreadful experience.

Bealtaine Cottage 001Flo is very territorial and chases all comers!

Jack, as you can see, is very hen-pecked by Flo…he always gives in!

Posted in Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Butterflies, Cats, celebrations, Country Living, Dogs, Gardens, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, Roscommon

The Autumn Gardens at Bealtaine Cottage

One of the many apple trees at Bealtaine Cottage, laden with fruit on this glorious September day.

As the nights draw in and the apple harvest swells, we realise Samhain is near.

Autumn is making it’s progress through the beautiful Arigna Mountains and the valley where Keadue nestles near the Castle of Kilronan…a place swathed in mist at this magical time of year.

Walking around the gardens today, I took these pictures to share with you.

Butterflies cover the Buddleia…this is a late flowering one as I planted it out this year, which is lucky for the butterflies as they made a late appearance!

Of course, it wasn’t long before Missy joined me, followed by Flo and Che.

It always feels so nice to walk around the gardens with the little characters who inhabit this sacred space!

Flo is just visible on the other side of the pond, near the standing stone.

She keeps an eye on everyone!

I can only add that we all enjoyed the walk.

 Bealtaine Cottage at Ballyfermoyle, is a beautiful place for sure, but, when the sun shines it is heaven!

Posted in Country Living, Ecology, Food, Inspiration, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Home and Garden Today

Sunset yesterday, purple and lilac filled the colour palette that was the evening sky in the west of Ireland. Such incredible beauty on a February day!

Wayne from the Organic Gardens at Knockvicar, near Ballyfermoyle, left me this poster yesterday…as you can see it’s advertising a Seed Swap Day! This is a time for people to come together and swap seeds collected last year! It’s a great way of acquiring all those seeds one would normally have to buy…and we do not want to support Monsanto now, do we?

Broken in the line of duty: one spade and one garden fork! I know what I want for my birthday!

This is the tunnel today after hours of work yesterday…the post winter tidy up…just have to wash the plastic, inside and out…still, the weather’s great!

“Regardless of geographical region or culture gardening is perhaps the most common and shared experience of Nature.”
― S. Kelley Harrell

“Our most important job as vegetable gardeners is to feed and sustain soil life, often called the soil food web, beginning with the microbes. If we do this, our plants will thrive, we’ll grow nutritious, healthy food, and our soil conditions will get better each year. This is what is meant by the adage,  “Feed the soil not the plants.”
― Jane Shellenberger

Posted in Country Living, Earth, Ecology, Garden, Permaculture, photography, Spring, Uncategorized

The Stunningly Beautiful West of Ireland

Today at Bealtaine Cottage and the weather was ducking and diving in and out of early Spring! I dashed outside and snapped these pics as it appeared to be early Spring.
It’s late here at the cottage, but I’m posting them to this blog, just to share!

Can you see the low cloud moving up the valley, cutting Ballyfermoyle off from the Arigna Mountains?

How’s that for dramatic?

The stunningly beautiful West of Ireland!

The beauty of bare trees reflected in a barrel of pure rainwater.

I rinse my clothes in this to make them extra soft…

Photinia washed by the soft Atlantic rain…

The beginnings of another willow basket waits for me on the veranda…

Moss clings to the thin slates on the cottage roof. I never clean this off as I think it looks so very beautiful and anyway, the roof manages to hold up well in face of the Atlantic storms that swoop in off the ocean!

Posted in Animals, Autumn, Ireland, Permaculture, Roscommon, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Woodland

An Early Morning Walk with Jack along Ballyfermoyle

Jack is my beautiful rescue dog…I usually introduce thus to strangers as a way of excusing his enthusiasm for life…jumping up to greet people!

Jack loves walking, so we go out at least twice a day along the laneway where I live, here at Ballyfermoyle.

I took these photos this morning for you all to see soem of what Jack and I see…

Recipe for Autumn Chutney…easy and you get to choose the fruit!

I used…

  • 1.5kg apples, chopped up in small pieces
  • 80g chopped dates
  • 100g raisins
  • 450g onions, fine chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 350g soft brown sugar
  • 550mls malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • half tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients into a large pan over a gentle heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for one and a half hours. Stir a few times during cooking.

Pot immediately, but leave to mature for at least a week for the flavours to infuse.

I had some on bread whilst still hot and it’s yummy!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, cows, Ecology, Herbs, Inspiration, Permaculture, Smallholding, Summer, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

Permaculture Cottage ~ Herbs and Cows

I have a fascination with cows.

They are very sociable and family oriented animals.

These belong to my neighbour, Gabriel, here in Ballyfermoyle.

They are contented and very laid back.

At this time of year the land is over-run with wild herbs and flowers and cows are out in the fields all the time.

It’s fascinating to watch them…and they watch me…and Jack, but mostly Jack!

Isn’t the little brown calf and the white one coming along behind, just adorable?

I stood by the fence for about half an hour and they were as interested in me as I was in them.

The flowers of the Rosa Rugusa are in full bloom at the moment and already quite a few hips have formed.

These are packed with Vitamin C and used to make syrup, amongst other foods.

They also make lovely additions to Seasonal wreaths and bouquets.

A spider has encapsulated this plant inside a web, all silky and delicate.

I am reading a book about life in Medieval Times in England and was fascinated to read how soldiers going off to battle would carry a tiny box with them at all times, filled with…spider’s webs!

These would be used, very successfully apparently, to stem the flow of blood from a wound.

Amazing!

Willow arches in a quiet spot near the vegetable garden.

The sun setting over Bealtaine Cottage…

Posted in Cottage, Culture, Earth, Ecology, History, Ireland, Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding

Abandoned Cottages in the West of Ireland

Wild Orchids are just some of the Wild Flowers at Bealtaine Smallholding today.

Walking the land it is amazing to see so many and such variety of Nature’s Bounty.

The leaves of an old Fern are just starting to unfurl.

Some of these Ferns growing along the bank at the back of the cottage are huge, denoting their age…10years and more!

The ruins of an old, old cottage on the hill behind this smallholding.

There are a few of these ancient remnants of a once much larger community of souls scattered on the hill of Ballyfermoyle.

Many of the lives born in these small cottages grew up and left Ireland.

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Many emigrated to countries like Australia and the U.S.A.

The remnants of their lives are often dug up here at Bealtaine and sites all over the west of Ireland.

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It might be that someone reading this blog is a descendant of a Ballyfermoyle emigrant.

There is a sadness around these ruins and many like them scattered the length and breadth of this land…encapsulated in the small clumps of daffodils which re-appear each Spring, reminiscent of the loving hands that planted them deep in the soil around their modest home.

www.bealtainecottage.com

These little flowers would have been the nearest the dweller would have got to gardening…their lives taken up with the burden of work to eke out a modest living.

Ash trees and Ivy grow up the inside of the gable wall of an old, stone cottage.

Large families of up to twenty children lived in tiny two bedroom cottages.

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A woman I once interviewed had a family of fifteen children, born over the course of sixteen consecutive years…that is almost one child every year!

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It is most likely, if your name is of Irish origin, that a home like the one above would have housed your ancestors…they would have, at least, looked out upon the great natural beauty that would have surrounded them and mourned this loss in their adopted country…