A Feast of Autumn

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Autumn in the permaculture gardens continues in a glow.

It’s near mid October…my favourite month, my birthday month!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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Stoves are keeping the cottage and the lodge warm and snug.

The nip in the morning and evening air is quite tangible.

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In the scheme of things, Autumn is an exuberant finale to the year, filled with colour and joy, mindful of all that’s passed and all left to come, as the descent towards midwinter moves ceaselessly on. 

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“The tints of autumn…a mighty flower garden blossoming under the spell of the enchanter, frost.”
John Greenleaf Whittier 

Perlagoniums resist the cold, staying in full flower, continuing in their summer glory.

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The pink roses of Midsummer have passed, leaving behind the fruits of each visiting bee…rose-hips hang plump upon the branches.

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Wisteria turns golden on the veranda.

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The morning and evening air hangs heavy and still, laden with mist.

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“GATHERING LEAVES
Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.
But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.
I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?
Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.
Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who’s to say where
The harvest shall stop?”
Robert Frost

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Salix Contorta and Honesty catch the morning sun.

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“I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn; —
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
Pearling his coronet of golden corn.”
Thomas Hood

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“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

[Letter to Miss Eliot, Oct. 1, 1841]”
George Eliot

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“And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days…”
Dylan Thomas, Collected Poems

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“I ate breakfast in the kitchen by candle-light, and then drove the five miles to the station through the most glorious October colouring. The sun came up on the way, and the swamp maples and dogwood glowed crimson and orange and the stone walls and cornfields sparkled with hoar frost; the air was keen and clear and full of promise. I knew something was going to happen. ”
Jean Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs

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“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.”
Sharon Kay Penman, Time and Chance

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“There was a filmy veil of soft dull mist obscuring, but not hiding, all objects, giving them a lilac hue, for the sun had not yet fully set; a robin was singing … The leaves were more gorgeous than ever; the first touch of frost would lay them all low to the ground. Already one or two kept constantly floating down, amber and golden in the low slanting sun-rays.”
Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

From the Fringe…

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 001The start of the week in this sacred place, where edges meet and overlap…a cooling, calming morning. 

Yesterday was a day of visits and creating bouquets to take with me.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 002The gardens are flourishing and birthing beauty all around me, so there was much to gather and choose from.

This is the tenth year using the roll of cellophane bought for me by my eldest daughter all those years ago as a leaving London present!

Small investments can and do go on giving!

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 003Walking the gardens this morning, after the rain, with the earth scents rising all around me, it was a delight to see the apples well on their way to a grand harvest.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 004I continue to drink the apple juice saved as frozen juice from the harvest last year.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 005The “poor” land here has given me more food than I can cope with…a continuing surplus builds year on year.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 006In this tenth year, it is no longer a surprise that the main stream media has steered clear of permaculture, for the truth of biodiversity undermines the huge Agri-business pushed by governments and those in power.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 007Permaculture has been pushed out to the fringes of society by ignoring the outcomes of such an approach.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 008This is why I write and photograph and film and keep putting it out there.

I don’t mind being ignored, but Mother Earth WILL have her voice heard and those tuning in are rising in numbers to a point where the mainstream media will have to take notice or end up being overtaken.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 010The compost heaps continue to rise toward the sky, dropping back down to earth as they bio-degrade.
Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 011Newly planted beds promise a rich return all Autumn and well into the Winter.
Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 012Natural Spring water flows in abundance from an aquifer that is unabused by demanding “flush it away,” toilet cisterns.

There is no away and besides which, water is sacred!

Why use clean water to flush our human waste into the rivers and oceans…no way, there is no away!
Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 013Taking care of people means taking care of the Earth…how simple is that philosophy to put into practice?

Not if you are a corporation or a politician on the make and take, for there is no money in caring, just an abundant, real economy!

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 014Our abiding relationship is with Mother Earth.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 016It is the only physical relationship which surpasses all others in this life.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 017If we imagine our world as a tapestry, then where are you on the stitching?

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 020Where do you want to be on the weave?

Here’s a thought: one of the biggest and most powerful supermarket chains in the UK and Ireland spent a small fortune on creating this advertising slogan, “Every Little Helps!”  

Own it!

 

 

Permaculture Harvest despite Chaos!

JackThe permaculture harvest continues, along with the increasing numbers of visitors to Bealtaine Cottage.

Garlic is harvested, dried and stored…just in time for re-planting the crop for next year, in just a few more weeks.

As the world teeters once more on the brink of chaos, in the forms of war and nuclear contamination from Fukushima, getting the harvest home and planning for next Spring is a way of keeping one’s sanity!

It’s also a way of nurturing optimism and hope for the future!

kilronan mountainTomatoes are everywhere in the gardens and tunnel.

I let them do their own thing and they have produced wildly!

All the tomatoes are late, but then the summer was dithering in and out of Spring this year!

Even the Perlagoniums in the photo above are in late flower after several months of sleepy time!

porchAs the summer fades into Autumn, the light changes inside and around the cottage in the most delightful ways.

Shadows prevail in unfamiliar places, making all look quite different.

workshopOnions, Blackcurrants, Peas and Broad beans are all stored for the year.

I am continuing to use the remainder of last year’s Blackcurrants!

More wine I think!

I was invited to give a talk to the Green Party recently and am invited to give another talk at an Arts festival in Connemara…along with a wine making demonstration, so will be finding use for excess Blackcurrant crops!

evening sun reflectionsShadow play on the door of the Lodge…isn’t this beautiful?

This is a good place to dry herbs when the stove is lit, as it gets very hot very fast!

wine, kitchenI noticed that there is a bumper crop of Blackberries on the hedgerows this Autumn.

I looked up some old recipes for using Blackberries, so will be collecting them and saving them in the freezer, ready to use in a plethora of delicious recipes!

Food for free and lots of it!

The new compost heap is being stacked up daily, so am already thinking about next planting season!

cup of tea!There is a slight chill in the air, heralding Autumn as it transits into cooler times.

It’s a good idea to wear cotton scarves around shoulders and neck and take them off indoors!

Along with all the food harvested, there is an abundance of seeds to bring in and herbs to dry and store.

This is also the time to begin collecting tree seeds to sow in pots…something I do every year!

missyAs I work, show visitors around, harvest and continue building my workshop, Missy snoozes, oblivious to it all!

Celebrating Lughnasa

The carved head of Lugh looks in all directionsLughnasa (earlier, Lughnasadh) was the feast of Lugh.

Lughnasa Lugh, carved by Michael Quirke A harvest festival, its celebration marked the end of the period of summer growth and the beginning of the autumn harvest.

Lugh, carved by Michael Qirke of SligoIts original name does not survive in popular tradition, that being now the common word in Irish (Lúnasa) for the month of August. 

Lugh of LughnasadhThe festival is rather known as the Sunday of Crom Dubh (the god of harvest), or in varying areas as Lammas Sunday, Garland Sunday, Bilberry Sunday, or Fraughan Sunday.

Burlap and lace flower arrangementThe first weekend in August marks Ireland’s changing-of-the-season festival of Lughnasa.

Burlap and lace flower arrangementThe Irish playwright, Brian Friel, wrote the now famous,“Dancing at Lughnasa” which is all centred around the pivotal point in the Celtic calendar, Lughnasa.

Bealtaine flowers at LughnasaThe Celts regarded the Earth as a fertile Goddess, to be nurtured and honoured…a way of living I now follow, as a care-taker and care-giver to Mother Earth.

flowers for MichelleThe gate-keeper to the sanctuary of Bealtaine Cottage.

Lughnasa flowers for Michelle's weddingToday is the final day of summer in the Celtic Calendar…Happy Lughnasa!

 

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Cottage Garden Harvest

Cottage garden harvestRed onions and seeds dry in the heat of the afternoon sun at Bealtaine Cottage. cottage garden harvestThe Permaculture harvest is on it’s way.

cottage garden harvestI am saving lots of seed from the biggest, healthiest and tastiest plants!

cottage garden harvestThe rain came and has left a little water…not much, but enough to fill the tank in the loft!

Cottage Garden HarvestHerbs and seeds are coming into their own!

potato harvest at Bealtaine CottagePotatoes are appearing where none were planted…these have grown from seed dropped last year and have not been earthed up!

cottage garden harvestBlackcurrants are taking over the gardens!

Apple harvest

Apples are plumping out…

Runner beansRunner beans are seeking Heaven…

Raspberry harvestRaspberries are being eaten straight from the garden!

broad beansBroad Beans are looking monstrous!

potager beds at Bealtaine CottageAnd the Potager beds have received their second planting…

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 006My brother Hugh O’Neill has made some very special Bog Oak pendants for the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy shop.

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 003Hugh has carved some Rune and Ogham symbols on some of these special little pieces of Bog Oak.

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 004The wood is carved and polished by Hugh into these amazing pendants, each accompanied by glass or wooden beads…

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 005 A little piece of Ancient Ireland to wear around your neck!

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 002You can find these on the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop…

https://www.etsy.com/listing/157732408/ancient-irish-bog-oak-pendants

 

Happy Bealtaine, the 1st Day of Summer in the Celtic Calendar.

Summer dawn at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandThe Celtic Festival of Bealtaine, also spelt as Beltane, Beltain, Beltainne and Beltaine is a Cross Quarter Day.

Midsummer Magic at Bealtaine CottageThis means,  that it is half way between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.

Midsummer Magic at Bealtaine 003Of course, as nothing is static in the Universe,  the actual astronomical date is a number of days later.

  This year, 2013, the date when the cross-quarter day falls is May 5th.

Bealtaine Cottage May In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season started with the Fire Festival at Bealtaine.

May in the Fairy Wood at  Bealtaine Cottage Great bonfires were held which would herald in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year.

May in the Fairy Wood at  Bealtaine Cottage The bonfires would be accompanied with rituals of cleansing and protection.

A small branch of the Rowan tree was hung over the door to protect from fire and ill health.

may at Bealtaine cottage permaculture wine makingI made a short video this morning to share the sights and sounds of this special day, the first day of Summer, with you…

Abundant Harvest at Bealtaine Cottage…seeing is believing!

Despite the problems with weather and lack of sunshine, this  is turning out to be one of the best years on record for the harvest at Bealtaine Cottage.

Continual adaptation to climate change is paying off, as the Potager Beds have excelled themselves in little over ten weeks since construction and planting.

Designed and built in the truly vernacular style, using stone sourced on site, these beds have been a blessing in production and style.

Blessed with continual warmth and shelter at the back of the cottage, the plants have excelled themselves, doing better than those planted in the tunnel!

Bees and, blessed be, Butterflies are all in abundance too, a sight to behold!

The Apple harvest is the best ever, as these trees have brought apples to my table every year since planting.

I have been out this morning and made a video for you to see for yourselves…it is amazing.

Oh, and as a joyous footnote…the Bats are back at Bealtaine Cottage…small and few, I suspect a new colony, but it is a stunning sight to watch at dusk!

Today’s video…just click on the link!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWLrpb6_9Wc

The All-Ireland Permaculture Gathering…

I brought lots of flowers and seed heads into the cottage to brighten up the greyness that is July.

Nothing stops the movement towards Lughnasa and the time of spiritual gathering.

The “All Ireland Permaculture Gathering,” takes place near Bealtaine Cottage this year in the town of Strokestown, County Roscommon.

It’s ideally placed, being located in  the near centre of the island.

It happens on the first weekend of Lughnasa.

For more details you can contact Hannah Mole on:

http://www.permaculture.ie/news/permaculture-gathering-2012

For those wishing to visit Bealtaine Cottage on or around this time, you can get my number from Hannah…I am happy to show visitors around the permaculture smallholding that is Bealtaine Cottage…

Lughnasa is a good time to assess one’s life harvest of wisdom, for the dark evenings of winter are a good time to learn new skills and crafts, to read and share, to think and plan.

It is about preparing the land for winter too, helping to put it asleep, mulching and covering…

We also need to prepare ourselves for the journey through Lughnasa and into Samhain, by ensuring we gather sunlight on ourselves, walk and meditate, enjoying sunrises and sunsets at this mellow time of the year.

Times like today, when the rain seems relentless will give way to sunny mornings and misted evenings, the Lughnasa of the year.

Long walks with Jack and Flo are great excuses to go out and explore new pathways, leaving the dark evenings ahead to navigate the pathways of the soul…

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Ireland in Summer

Drought is no longer a problem as the land in sodden with rain, but it’s not all bad!

Not that it bothers Missy in the slightest!

In fact it’s a glorious summer for the plants and Nature, as the abundance of midsummer flows through a permaculture landscape.

I am uploading today’s video as I type and thinking about the lands that have little or no rain.

It can be tremendously difficult for growers in drought conditions and I am mindful of a the wonderful work being done by by permaculture teachers all over the world as they help people design their way back to abundance.

Indeed, this is the vital message I continue to learn as I do the same…designing the best landscapes in my continual adaptation to the chaos that is climate change.

In the example here at Bealtaine Cottage, that means using stone to make raised beds closer to the cottage and in the warmth of a south-facing aspect.

It also means ensuring both east and west sides of the smallholding are kept exceedingly sheltered, for, indeed, I have noticed that the winds have blown hard from the east over recent days and heavy rains.

Usually they come in from the west and the Atlantic Ocean.

 Over recent days I have been on the forage for all the crops that are free in the hedgerows and across the land.

Elderflowers are at their most scented peak and I recall similar wet conditions last year when I went in search of an Elderflower harvest.

It is interesting to keep a record of weather rather than relying on external sources.

Local knowledge is intrinsic to making plans for the next year!

On todays diary of photographs you can see the raised bed, now less than 3 weeks old and already yieding a harvest, as well as the 2nd bed currently completed and being filled with compost.

On today’s video diary you can see the most recent compost heap uncovered and the progress of the latest compost heap under construction.

 Today the sky is heavy and grey, but summer rolls on and is quite marvellous.

The Earth exudes the most wonderful summer scents and the birds sing…life is good!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q67PdS7QWT0