Posted in Abundance, Animals, Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, Cottage, Eco-Living, Food, Gardening, Growing Food, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding

Hens…Raising Happy Girls!

The Bealtaine Girls…a bit like the Bluebell Girls, except they don’t dance!

I love hens.

They are social creatures.

Bealtaine Permaculture

They are inquisitive by nature and become very tame when treated well.

I have kept hens for years, even when I lived in London, I kept hens in my garden in Muswell Hill.

So, hens are familiar to me and have taught me a lot about what makes them happy!

Hens love to scratch and peck…fresh straw is great for this as they peck all the seeds left on the stalks.

Food is easy…lots of greens.

You can pick a few weeds every day and give to the hens, fresh is best.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture hens

Lots of starchy food leftovers is good for them as it provides a balanced diet.

I supplement with rolled barley, which they love!

If the girls can roam freely then this is good for all.

Bealtaine Cottage

Mine get out for a good long roam-about when I’m working in the upper gardens.

This is because the handsome old fox lives on the hill above the cottage!

Say no more!

Hens love the berries of the Ribes, which stay on the bushes over the winter.

I have watched the girls jump up high to eat these from the bush on winter days.

Blackcurrant Cordial Bealtaine Cottage 015

Here they are scoffing the remains of blackcurrants from wine-making.

Hens are great foragers and will happily troop off on a good old forage through the bushes and woodland, emerging hours later at some unexpected point!

The henhouse is very spacious, with two floors and a long perch…and, you’ve probably noticed, very light too.

This is because it has a perspex roof, so all the sunshine and moonlight can brighten the inside.

In this way, the hens continue to lay eggs all year round as the light induces this process.

I built this on site and positioned the roof on a slope towards the south to catch as much sun and warmth as possible.

Trees are planted around it for maximum shelter, especially from the wind.

It works!

The hens even laid eggs on Christmas day.

Bealtaine in June 2011 046

Hens will lay for years and live for over 7 years and more.

Posted in Abundance, Bloom, Cottage, Garden, Gardening, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Summer, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

Notes from a Cottage…West of Ireland Permaculture.


The land across the smallholding that is Bealtaine Cottage, is very wet indeed. Too wet to do much, except admire the tremendous growth that has taken place recently! The paths are closing in and so I spent about two hours this morning out with my shears, clipping frantically between showers…about a third done, not bad!

Despite the rain the redcurrants are on course for ripening at their usual pace and time…around the first week in June or thereabouts. Although Bealtaine has become something of a wildlife sanctuary over the seven years of its’ existence, most of the fruits are left on the bushes and trees and have never required netting…that’s what abundance does, provides plenty for all!

Bealtaine has hundreds of metres of paths…one day I will measure them all!

Part of the front gardens on the north side of the smallholding, today.

The cottage sits snugly in the permaculture gardens, zones 1-5.

Dog Daisies on the driveway, with lots of insects on and around them. I shake seed from the flowers onto the gravel, so each year they spread a little further…and they’re wild flowers!

Brilliant colour on the Valerian, another seeded flower on the driveway. Each year I shake more seed further down the driveway and these beautiful flowers just appear!

The delicate blooms of LondonPride line the steps at the back of the cottage. These are perennials and spread every year, now lining the steps and spilling out over them.

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Climate, Current Affairs, Earth, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Gardening, Growing Food, Leitrim, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Woodland

The Benefits of Mulching in a Land without Rain…Ireland ~ Permaculture Living.

There is little space left in the tunnel…plants and seedlings jostle for what is there and the grapevine is setting lots of fruit. Nectarine and Peach trees in here have already set an abundance of small fruits, so the harvest is looking fruitful!

Lots of tiny Pears have set on the Pear trees in Zones 1 and 2. Frost at this point can happen but is not expected, so the majority of settings should mature into good fruit.

Each year for the past four years of the seven Bealtaine has been growing I have siad that this would be a bumper harvest for Apples. I have to say this again…a bumper crop is expected! I will post regular pics to update you on this! You can see some from last harvest, when the trees were heavy with fruit! No sprays, no chemicals, just permaculture!

Heavy mulching arounf fruit trees, bushes and plants have saved them from the ravages of the drought experienced recently here in Ireland.

Living in Ireland where few trees are planted,( except the dreaded Sitka Spruce for money!) Bealtaine is fast growing to look like an Oasis in a desert. Intense planting, as per permaculture, makes this small 3 acres look exceptional. Most farmers in Ireland get financial subsidies and don’t plant trees…I have planted almost 600 and receive zero reward…well, not in financial terms, but you can see the immense rewards here for Gaia, birds, insects, animals, visitors and me! PLANT MORE TREES!