Unweaving

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With my camera in one hand and mug of coffee in the other, I set off with jack for an early morning stroll around the garden and down as far as the end of the driveway.

DSC09753As you can see it’s a beautiful morning!

DSC09761My mind, as ever, began to focus on the beauty of all around me…for I live in a constant state of disbelief that all this has manifested from such barren land in little more than a decade!

DSC09760We live in unprecedented times.

DSC09720In what was promised as a post-war era of plenty on this abundant and beautiful planet, deceit and greed have overtaken and consumed the dream.

Mother Earth has been harnessed and shackled to the corporate nightmare.  

DSC09754War appears to be never-ending.

As George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
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Jane Goodall, a wise and compassionate woman if ever there was, speaks and writes about the issues facing us today, in a world where little makes sense…

“Michael Pollan likens consumer choices to pulling single threads out of a garment. We pull a thread from the garment when we refuse to purchase eggs or meat from birds who were raised in confinement, whose beaks were clipped so they could never once taste their natural diet of worms and insects. We pull out a thread when we refuse to bring home a hormone-fattened turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. We pull a thread when we refuse to buy meat or dairy products from cows who were never allowed to chew grass, or breathe fresh air, or feel the warm sun on their backs.
The more threads we pull, the more difficult it is for the industry to stay intact. You demand eggs and meat without hormones, and the industry will have to figure out how it can raise farm animals without them. Let the animals graze outside and it slows production. Eventually the whole thing will have to unravel.
If the factory farm does indeed unravel – and it must – then there is hope that we can, gradually, reverse the environmental damage it has caused. Once the animal feed operations have gone and livestock are once again able to graze, there will be a massive reduction in the agricultural chemicals currently used to grow grain for animals. And eventually, the horrendous contamination caused by animal waste can be cleaned up. None of this will be easy.
The hardest part of returning to a truly healthy environment may be changing the current totally unsustainable heavy-meat-eating culture of increasing numbers of people around the world. But we must try. We must make a start, one by one.”
Jane Goodall

DSC09719There are some main differences between the times we live in and a few decades ago here in the western world.

DSC09755Do you remember?

Do your parents recall?

Have you ever had this conversation…the one that begins with “consumption of food and acquisition of material goods never used to be like this!”

DSC09750My diet as a child consisted of tiny amounts of meat two or three times per week.

DSC09749Milk was limited to what was given out free at school.

DSC09747Ice cream only ever was a Sunday treat during the Summer months.

DSC09748Sweets were literally a treat…very rare indeed and brought by visitors to our home!

DSC09746Clothes were handed down and rarely bought new!

DSC09745Toys and games were what one got at Christmas or birthday if one was lucky!

DSC09741Compare all that to now…

We have a consumer society gone mad!

We are devouring our world!

DSC09738Our happiness levels have plummeted.

Seasonal food and life is unrecognizable to the majority of younger people.  

DSC09729“Someday we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture and shake our heads. How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?”
Jane Goodall, Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating

DSC09726Oh Jane Goodall, what a wise woman you are…but I hope that day comes soon!

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What If…?

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A reasonable question…why, some would even say, a good question!

Isn’t it about time we asked it?

Isn’t it about time we stepped out of the ridiculous matrix we have trapped ourselves in?  

Question more…

Poster Bealtaine Cottage trees

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Climate Change…The Elephant in the Room

The conference in Paris is underway as I write this.

World leaders have gathered to discuss, debate, harangue and eventually come to some agreement…hopefully!

However, there are two aspects of any agreement, that the mainstream media will ignore, in their reporting of the biggest threat to face humankind ever!

The first one is evident to anyone living in the developed world: we have to consume less, much less and, in fact, change our entire perspective of how we live with this planet…not, as many say, on this planet!  

This means reducing consumption of consumer goods, oil,  but, more importantly, changing our diets and expectations.

We have become used to buying food from all over the world, holidaying all over the world, eating more meat than any other generation before us and living in homes where heat is supplied at the flick of a switch.

You will not hear political leaders talk such talk, as this has no place in “economic growth”…

Western society in it’s present form is unsustainable…even without the massive problem of Climate Change!

(For example…did you know that there are, today, nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens and pigs, crammed into Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)…Factory Farms to you and me!)

We eat meat as a snack food…unheard of when I grew up!

However, much as the mainstream media ignore much of the above, there remains a most important part of this problem unspoken of…

War and the Military machines of increasingly feudal governments. They’re right up there in the major league of Climate destroyers! 

Did Al Gore even mention the devastating impact of endless wars and military in his money-spinning presentation?

No!

Why?

It was an Inconvenient Truth.

It represents the Elephant in the Room that no-one wants to talk about! 

Last year, the UK government spent $60.5Billion on Defence.

A huge amount of money that could have provided solar power and retro-fitted insulation to millions of homes…yes, millions!

Here’s an article that evaluates the US military’s impact on climate  

“Militarism is single greatest institutional contributor to the growing natural  disasters intensified by global warming.” 

~J Lawrence 

Some of the facts, should you care to research them are staggering… for example, an F-4 Phantom Fighter burns more than 1,600 gallons of jet fuel per hour!

It is interesting that the spin on war and climate change has already begun, with the media posing the question does climate change cause war and refugees.

Refugees do not cause climate change.

It is time we did a little number crunching for ourselves!

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This Could Change the World!

September 2011 Permaculture Cottage 002Real Crisis in the Economy, Economic Forecasts, Economic Recovery, …the list of headlines, news and political in-fighting over the economy seems endless.

september 2011 bealtaine cottage 012However, the figures that are collected year on year, collated and spun out to us all, regarding the state of our country’s economy, are referred to as GDP or Gross Domestic Product.

September 2011 Permaculture Cottage 009GDP is the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a year.

September 2011 Permaculture Cottage 016This includes trees. 

Dead trees.

Only dead trees!

Trees that have been cut down and transported out of the country, or sold.

September 2011 Permaculture Cottage Bealtaine 005Now, imagine this…

May 2011 Bealtaine 005What if living trees were included in GDP?

May 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 039For, after all, a tree is of more value to us all, alive than dead! 

September 2011 Permaculture Cottage 008A tree is worth $193,250…

According to Professor T.M.Das of the University of Calcutta. A tree living for 50 years will generate $31,250 worth of oxygen, provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control, control soil erosion and increase soil fertility to the tune of $31,250, recycle $37,500 worth of water and provide a home for animals worth $31,250. This figure does not include the value of fruits, lumber or beauty derived from trees. Just another sensible reason to take care of our forests.

From Update Forestry Michigan State University

cropped-november-2011-018.jpgGDP is one the primary indicators used to gauge the health of a country’s economy.

It represents the total dollar value of all goods produced by that country

November 2011 018But, surely, the health of an economy is as much predicated on the health of it’s people, land, air and soil, as it is on exported dollar goods?

May blossom at Bealtaine CottageCan you begin to imagine how the inclusion of all living trees could change how we regard economic health, wealth, growth and progress?

May 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 018This small step could change the world!

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You can place an order for seeds harvested here at Bealtaine cottage, from the plants seen growing here…all strong and vigorous. Click on the link below that will take you to the selection available:

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

 

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Don’t Wait For The Cavalry!

www.bealtainecottage.comSammy-Bear is filthy.

From head to paw, disgusting in the extreme!

Last night, as the moon came towards its fullest, Sammy refused to come in.

As I walked Jack in the full light of a post storm moon, I could see Sammy on the hill behind the cottage darting here and there as he chased something.

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Hours later he slunk home in this disgraceful state!

He refuses to clean himself, ignoring my chastisements and sits in full state, on the executive chair, in front of the stove!

I may as well talk to the wall!

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There is a full moon tonight and the air is still.

Over recent days the storms have been intense, with rain, snow, wind and tornado!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe extremes of weather are being felt all across the world.

The British Isles have been hit quite badly with floods and high winds all over.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe effects of this extreme weather in terms of financial cost has not been talked about too much in the media.

There appears to be an Ostrich reaction to it all, as economies are talked up and realities are ignored.

www.bealtainecottage.comI don’t feel I need to write about the cost to our environments, as I do so all the time really, but the financial cost to countries will be immense and will certainly slow any hoped-for economic recovery.

www.bealtainecottage.comSo it is well worth mentioning once more the power we all have, to grow food and make plans for our own home economies as best we can!

I might add here, that our worst, can only really equal the best that our own governments appear to be doing in the face of environmental disaster.

By applying common sense and with a little foresight and planning, we will ensure some security of tenure on this battered planet.

www.bealtainecottage.com 058For my part, planting trees for coppicing and energy needs will ensure a warm home next winter.

Storing and familiarising myself with the use of dried pulses, growing and successfully storing home-grown produce, as well as becoming well-versed in the very best home-made soups and potage dishes, continues to occupy my spare time.

candle_004_reasonably_smallMy advice, for what it’s worth…Don’t Wait For The Cavalry!

The First Stage of Collapse is Underway…

ban frackingThere appear to be about five stages in the collapse of any society…the first one being human impacts on the environment.

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This, simply put, are humans destroying the resource base upon which they depend.

Using spent mushroom compost in the garden

In the case of Ireland, this happens to be the soil.

In the case of almost every society on the Earth, it happens to be the soil.

PosterThe fertility of the soil is diminishing…so much so, that even here in Ireland, farmers rely on chemical fertilizers to grow sufficient grass to feed livestock.

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The same happens to be the case worldwide.

The Nursery at Bealtaine Cottage

Our present course is a non-sustainable course, which by definition means it cannot be maintained.

Think about that…”cannot be maintained!”

potager bedHowever, we should realize that none of this is beyond our control, even though our political and economic systems seem frozen in time!

Veranda at Bealtaine Cottage

Each one of us is part of the problem, so therefore can be part of the solution.

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The main problem is denial and “Ostrich Syndrome!”

Let’s keep talking the economy up!

This is the only message we get from the mainstream media, politicians and economists.

harvesting blackcurrantsHowever, which ever way one looks at it, our present course is headed for the precipice.

We had a massive party.

It lasted for several decades.

We told our children lies.

harvesting garlicWe told them that they could have whatever they wanted…big houses, big cars, foreign holidays in increasingly exotic places and all the consumer goods they desired.

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Just go to college, we said…just get a good education, we said…then a career that will earn you lots of money.

veranda at Bealtaine CottageAnd all the while we knew that the world had finite resources.

Barn at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Gardens

Well, the party’s over.

This is the morning after the night before.

We have to begin the clean-up and face into the days ahead.
posterAs we, individually and collectively, attempt to make sense of what is happening, just keep this in mind…

Not one politician has stated the simple fact, that: unlimited growth cannot happen on a finite planet…

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Apparently, not one of their over-paid advisers has yet told them this simple statement of economic fact!

Pond in May at Bealtaine Cottage

We, as communities, will have to fight our governments, to try to protect what it is, they want to destroy!

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The first stage of collapse is underway…but…it is during these times of extremity that the best within us can rise to the surface…hold onto that!

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A Weekend of Sustainable Living…

Kitchen at bealtaine Cottage

Many people are trying to make the transition into a more sustainable way of living.

courtyard at Bealtaine CottagePermaculture, growing food, making wine, spinning… are all facets of sustainable living that interest many people, as the economy continues to dwindle.

Willow arch and buttercupsVisitors to this blog and the Bealtaine Cottage YouTube channel continue to grow at an amazing rate…sparking an interest in what sustainable living is all about.

permaculture garden at bealtaine cottageThis is an opportunity to spend a full weekend at Bealtaine Cottage, immersed in sustainable living, experiencing first hand, a comfortable and permaculture lifestyle.

Roses at bealtaine cottageThe subjects covered in this weekend workshop will include wine-making, composting, soft fruit growing, raised Potager bed construction and planting, as well as growing/harvesting fuel for the stove.

 

Permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageYou will get to use a rocket stove, shred harvested materials to make mulch, learn to take and plant cuttings and ask lots of questions about many aspects of sustainable living.
veranda at bealtaine cottageThis will afford you the time and space to ask  questions about the permaculture way of living, growing and developing a sustainable lifestyle…easily!

The Lodge at BealtaineYou will get to stay in the Lodge at Bealtaine, with it’s own wood-burning stove and veranda, with beautiful, peaceful views across some of the gardens.

veranda at Bealtaine CottageDuring the course of the weekend you will be able to explore the gardens at leisure, eat wholesome Vegetarian or Vegan food and enjoy home made wine!

herb gardens at bealtaine cottageThe dates for this weekend are: 2-4th of August.

Irish dresser at Bealtaine CottageThe sustainable living weekend is limited to two people sharing, so it helps if you know each other!

herb gardens at Bealtaine CottageFor further details, email: coletteoneill2010@hotmail.com

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Oops…it’s gone…This weekend is now fully booked!

A Life in the Country ~ Today at Permaculture Cottage

The hens are out foraging today.

Autumn is a good time to let the girls out to roam freely all over the smallholding…and roam they do!

And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried:  “Look at this Godawful mess.”  ~Art Buchwald, 1970

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Beech planted with Bamboo. 

Close planting is one of the ways to keep unwanted weeds at bay!

If you look closely you can see Cotoneaster planted to the right.

It is easier to thin plants out than wait for them to grow!

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In the true style of the Economic Terrorist I grew all these trees from seed.

That’s what I love about growing and gardens and Nature…there is no consumerism and everything continues to grow.

The gap in our economy is between what we have and what we think we ought to have – and that is a moral problem, not an economic one.

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other.  It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich.  Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied… but written off as trash.  The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.  ~John Berger

Testament to Dad…

My father died in April of last year.

Dad loved this smallholding and bought me a sack full of bare-rooted saplings to plant here.

All the Beech trees, including this Purple Beech are a testament to his love for Nature and the environment we make within.

As these trees turn marvellous shades of reds and browns, I smile and remember my father…

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Forethought and temperance are the virtues which produced thrift, and with thrift the economic progress of society.  And those are the virtues which today are gravely compromised.  ~Adriano Tilgher


Permaculture Health, Wealth and Abundance…May the Force be With You!

Apple blossom this morning at Bealtaine.

As I write this I am listening to Irish Radio…talking endlessly about money, economics, making people spend money, kick-starting the economy! They just don’t get it! The wealth of a country must be measured in the health and wellbeing of its people…

Rhubarb waiting for me to turn it into jam…bumper harvests have begun again!

Apple blossom open today. the bees have feasted on the Ribes and are ready to continue the party on the fruit blossoms.

Irusan in the Fairy Dell this morning. He loves to walk the land with me each morning when he is staying at Bealtaine. Irusan is a Bombay Black Cat, whose mother was feral, living almost wild in London. he is extremely perceptive and interactive with people he chooses to like.

Growth over recent days has begun to impact on the paths that connect the permaculture zones at Bealtaine Cottage. Where monoculture fields around this smallholding are waiting for chemical fertilizer to green them, the grass and herbal pathways do the greening for themselves, for underneath lies a healthy soil that now pushes forth abundance!

Violets have emerged in the Fairy Dell…woodland abundance!