Posted in Cats, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Childhood, Climate, Current Affairs, Ecology, Food, History, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wildlife

The Circle of Greed, The Spiral of Life and The Tipping Point

Bealtaine Cottage in April 2011 025The tipping point has been reached.

Reading this report from yesterday quantifies everything that is wrong with our approach to food.

You see, Salmon, used to be a seasonal food.

Bealtaine Cottage Gardens  in April 2011 001Much like other seasonal foods, it was enjoyed as a celebration of a particular time of year.

I remember this time as a child.

Fairy Dell at  Bealtaine Cottage011The salmon would return to Ireland to spawn…swimming furiously up the rivers to lay their eggs in dark, sometimes shallow, pools of freshwater, having survived a momentous journey across the Atlantic Ocean and into the fast, freshwater rivers of the west of Ireland.

April 2011 Bealtaine Cottage Laurel arch023It was easy enough to catch them, though not always legal, but then people rarely took more than they could eat or share.

Irusan at Bealtaine Cottage Fairy DellWe had no fridge in our tiny house and no freezer.

Barely standing room for parents and eleven children!

Inside Bealtaine Cottage 001The salmon was a great supplement to a frugal diet and the men seemed to understand the value of the sacred fish, for they were regarded as such in the old ways.

The Salmon of Wisdom.

The Salmon of Knowledge.

Pond in the Bog Garden at  Bealtaine Cottage There was a sense of compassion by the banks of the River Strule in Omagh.

An empathy even with this most magical of all fish… Fish Farms put an end to all this, injecting a venom of disconnect into the veins of human beings.

Mirror in the garden at  Bealtaine Cottage Greed over-ruled millennia of links between human and salmon.

This is what I have just read from yesterday’s paper…

The number of salmon killed by diseases at Scottish fish farms rose to more than 8.5 million last year.

New figures released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) reveal losses from all salmon farms have reached nearly 10% of production.

The main problem has been the spread of amoebic gill disease, blamed by some on the warmer seas caused by climate pollution.

In 2012, 13,627 tonnes of dead fish had to be disposed of by 230 fish farms along the west coast and on the islands, compared with 9717 tonnes in 2011 and 7159 tonnes in 2010.

This has raised questions about how such large amounts of diseased waste are safely disposed of, and how the process is regulated. Sepa and local authorities both say it is not their responsibility.

Anglers and environmentalists pin the blame on production methods and are demanding a halt to any expansion plans.

“It is clear from these massive mortality figures there are major problems,” said Hugh Campbell Adamson, the chairman of the Salmon and Trout Association in Scotland. “When a large number of fish are closely confined, the likelihood of endemic disease is greatly increased.”

Fish farmer Grieg Seafood declined to comment.

HeraldScotland

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/disease-deaths-on-salmon-farms-soar.20177714

Posted in Abundance, Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, cows, Current Affairs, Earth, Fairies, Folklore, Inspiration, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wildlife

The Festival of Bealtaine

Aquilegia, now growing all over the permaculture gardens and driveway of Bealtaine Cottage, from its beginnings here 8 years ago, with a handful of seed, saved from a some flowers growing in a garden in North London.

The time is near…Mayday, known as Bealtaine here in Ireland. It is pronounced “Be Al Tan Ah”

Irish mythology marks the beginning of May as the  the start of the summer.

This was  heralded in  with the Fire Festival at Bealtaine.

Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition.

There was the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and celebrations were accompanied with rituals to protect the people from any harm by otherworldly spirits. Cattle would be driven through the dying embers of the great bonfires, to protect them from disease.

The Ancient Races who constructed  Newgrange in Ireland aligned their monuments to the major solar events.

These were the Winter Solstice, the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox.

The solar year was further divided to mark the half way points between the major solar events giving the cross quarter days of Imbolc,  Bealtaine,  Lughnasadh and Samhain.

Click on the link below for today’s video from Bealtaine Cottage

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiyT1TSbaU&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

Posted in Beltane, Birds, Fairies, Folklore, Garden, History, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Winter

Permaculture Cottage ~ Compost, Potatoes, The Fairy Tree and a Cold Winter to Come!

Potatoes growing by the east side of the shed. Did you know that there are about five thousand potato varieties worldwide?                            Potatoes do not keep very well in storage and are vulnerable to molds that feed on the stored tubers, quickly turning them rotten.  However, I left potatoes in the ground over the course of last winter, when all was frozen solid for six long weeks…and they were dug out after the defrost and were perfect! I think it may have been the layer of straw that was atop the ground!

Throughout Europe, the most important new food in the 19th century was the potato, which, of course fast became a monoculture among poorer people… I strive hard to avoid planting all the tubers in one area, preferring to plant here and there in a positive way to avoid disease…and it appears to have worked thus far!

Now in its seventh year, Bealtaine smallholding has achieved new heights of growth, meaning that compost is plentiful. This is because there is so much to cut back and use to build compost heaps…I have made two so far and am still using the compost made last year, with loads to go!

At its most essential, the process of composting requires simply piling up waste outdoors and waiting a year or more. This is the method I use and it has benefitted Bealtaine well! The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. Any parts of the heap that have not degraded sufficiently can be added to the next heap…a process I indulge in!

Permaculture planting lends itself really well to bountiful compost production, so even if you do not keep animals for manure, it is still quite possible to maintain a high degree of healthy and fertile soil, using plant compost alone…however, a few hens are easy and happy and productive little workers to have on any smallholding!

Upcycling baked bean tins…making a few holes in the bottom and planting with sedums…these are two years old now and quite attractive when grouped together like this, don’t you think?

Lots of berries on the Hawthorn. last year was the same and I predicted a very cold and long winter…I forecast more of the same for the coming winter based on much evidence around me…

Crataegus,or Hawthorn is one of my favourite trees here at Bealtaine and I have grown all I have planted from seed. Hawthorns provide food and shelter for many species of birds and mammals, and the flowers are important for many nectar-feeding insects.

In Gaelic folklore, hawthorn  ‘marks the entrance to the otherworld’ and is strongly associated with the fairies.   Lore has it that it is very unlucky to cut the tree at any time other than when it is in bloom, however during this time it is commonly cut and decorated as a May Bush or Bealtaine…Irish meaning May.    This warning persists to modern times; it has been questioned by folklorist Bob Curran whether the ill luck of the De Lorean Motor Company was associated with the destruction of a fairy thorn to make way for a production facility.

Hawthorn trees are often found beside clootie wells; at these types of holy wells they are sometimes known as ‘rag trees’, for the strips of cloth which are tied to them as part of healing rituals. ‘

When all fruit fails, welcome haws’ was once a common expression in Ireland.