Hens, Compost and St Patrick’s Day at Bealtaine Cottage

 

Collecting fresh laid eggs from the hen house on the morning of St Patrick’s Day at Bealtaine Cottage.

Step inside the Hen House with me to see where the girls have laid… then over to the tunnel to check on the seedlings.

I explain how the compost toilet system is so simple and easy and essential!

Finally, walking around the front of the cottage to delight in the quickening growth of the season! 

 

 

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Garden in February (Part One)

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The year in the garden is now well under way, as Mother Earth awakens in a very visible way…not that she ever slept!

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Coltsfoot is one of the first herbs to come into flower, for it flowers before it leafs and a very welcome sight this is!

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Bronze fennel, that most vigorous of herbs and also a brilliant addition to the flower garden, starts to produce tasty leaves that can be added to early Spring salads.

Rocket has over-wintered well in the tunnel and forms the base ingredient.

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Daffodils are now up and beginning to flower.

Daffodils on the hill above the cottage, around an old abandoned dwelling are in full bloom!

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Reminders of Winter come and go, but not for long, sometimes just an hour or two of a light dusting of snow.

Never enough to hold back the advance of the seasons!

But beware the wind chill factor that comes with early Spring and wrap up warm when venturing out to work in the garden!

Rhubarb in a permaculture garden

When the sun does shine, it is truly glorious and plants like Rhubarb spring into exuberant life!

A very hungry plant, Rhubarb eats up a generous dressing of well-rotted manure.

Euphorbia at Bealtaine Cottage

Euphorbia comes into life in the flower garden…here it shares a half barrel with a Fig Tree and both like each other’s company!

In fact, the Fig has fruited well year on year since getting a new bed fellow!

bealtaine cottage permaculture feb 2011 002

An old but treasured book is always at hand to delve into for advice on seasonal food, gardening and outdoors work!

I wonder if this little gem is still in print?

Bealtaine permaculture gardens

Beautiful catkins on the Hazel trees…flowers in fact!

Bealtaine Cottage frogs in the pond

The pond is filling with frogspawn and clumps of frogs celebrating the turn in the year as only frogs can!

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2011 028

Out in the hen-house the girls are in touch with the growing of the light as they come back into lay!

Fox in the garden at Bealtaine Cottage

Mr and Mrs Fox are hungry and on the prowl! I often lay out food at night for the foxes, for the way I see it is simply this: we have interfered with the food chain by removing the animals that would have predated upon foxes.

This is my way of attempting to live in harmony as best I can…and ensuring that the girls in the henhouse are well protected!

Part Two  of THE GARDEN IN FEBRUARY can be found on Bealtaine Cottage Good Life…

To subscribe, see the link below…

 

I’m happy to write, photograph, podcast, YouTube and Facebook on behalf of Mother Earth…it would be great if you could take a second or two to press the LIKE button, leave a comment, or even subscribe to Bealtaine Cottage Good Life…

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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/

 

A Free Festival!

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.” – John Keats

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Amid much conflict in the world, austerity, unemployment and strife, the seamless story of Mother Earth moves across the landscape.

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In these days of early Spring in the west of Ireland, her joyfulness plays out in the changing earth beneath our feet, as sap pushes up stems and trunks, thickening buds as it moves the life force skywards.

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Earlier mornings, filled with birdsong.

Hens back laying eggs.

Sunshine and showers.

There is a deep sense of an Ode to Joy!

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The world of man is in chaos…and always has been in one form or another.

Yet, here in Nature, Great Mother Nature, time continues in an almost unaltered way.

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I say “almost,” because, of course, Mother earth has been greatly harmed by Mankind.

Today, I do not want to write about that, but instead invoke a little of the joy that is manifesting around us all.

The earth, here in the northern hemisphere, is inviting us all to a long party.

The doors have opened, the dance has begun!

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The brown mantle of winter is now cast aside and the greening has begun.

Already there are lambs in the fields and Catkins emerging on Willow.

There are no tickets to be bought for this party…all is free!

You are even allowed to take things away from the party and bring them home…flowers, Catkins, sunshine, food and even music.

Open your doors and windows to the music…it is magical music indeed!

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Mother Earth holds no fear…she sings despite the wars.

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Mother Earth is not impoverished…she keeps giving despite austerity.

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Mother Earth cares not for politicians or governments…she will not be governed or subdued.

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Mother Earth knows no religion, for she is the great Creatrix.

Bring nothing but joy!

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New Permaculture Orchard

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 007Last year I planted a new orchard at Bealtaine Cottage.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 008To date there are thirty eight fruit trees planted across the three acres of land here.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 012This new orchard was planted on an area previously fenced off and used for hens over a period of years.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 009This is always a good start, as the land was prepared by the hens in terms of manuring and picking over.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 010Before the trees were planted I laid down a generous spread of seaweed and covered this with cardboard, to hold back the weeds for a year or so.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 013Over the morning I have been planting yet more layers into the orchard, mainly flowers and herbs to attract and feed the bees…my secret of abundant harvests; where would we be without the bees?

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 014The next phase will include planting a bee-friendly hedge along the south edge of the area.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 015I planted Fuschia and Berberis, Dogwood and Rubus along the north edge.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 016As I cut back around the orchard, cuttings are dropped onto the ground around the trees and bushes as a mulch.
permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 021The planting continues as more and more flowers and herbs are brought from my small nursery area, a really important part of any permaculture garden or smallholding! 

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 019As with all my projects here at Bealtaine, I couldn’t resist using some Willow to effect, constructing a simple arbour that will eventually house a home-made bench, on which to sit and sup a cup of tea!
permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 024The plan of maximum planting has worked well all over the land here, building resilience as well as fertility into the land, as a forest does naturally.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 002The days have been warm and sunny, with the back door open all day long.

There is such a good balance of biodiversity here that flies don’t seem to be a bother…this can be a serious Irish complaint during the summer months!

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 003I pulled the sofa chair over to the open door as I find the soft sounds of life in the gardens very soothing.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 001Sammy does too!

The idea of planting food trees is taking off here in the west of Ireland.

My local town of Drumshanbo has planted a Community Orchard near the entrance to the town…a great Transition Towns inspiration!

 

Keeping Hens, in the Town or Country

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 The hens have settled into their new home and are all laying.

Happy clucks and soft singing emanates out from the hen house.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe secure enclosure promises to keep the Fox family away…for I have lost too many of my lovely hens to Mr and Mrs Fox. www.bealtainecottage.comInside, the house is spacious and comfortable, with an upstairs and five windows in total!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe system is similar to the one I used in London for over a decade.

It is known as a deep litter system, using lots of straw.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe dirty straw is then used in the gardens as a mega-mulch!www.bealtainecottage.comThe deep litter system allows the girls foraging in a limited space and I collect greens for them on days when they are stay at home.

www.bealtainecottage.comDays when I am in the garden, the girls are allowed out under my watchful eye!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe mulching continues unabated, as the grass paths are mowed…grass clippings are piled onto cardboard as a weed suppressant, allowing newly planted trees to get a footing!

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is the system I have used for ten years and all the fruit trees are producing well.

www.bealtainecottage.comHonesty is in full bloom now and being enjoyed by the bees.

www.bealtainecottage.comMost of the early bees are bumble bees and are most prolific here at Bealtaine Cottage, where succession planting keeps all visitors fed from February through to the end of November.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe painted stone Cockerel stands guard by the front door of the cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comNewly mown paths allows everything alongside to look lush!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe Cherry tree, grown from seed, stands covered in blossom,  with the promise of lots of Cherries, some high for the birds and some low for me!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe Bealtaine Feast has begun!

www.bealtainecottage.comSeedlings are flourishing in the late Spring sunshine.

Easter in a Permaculture Garden…700th Post!

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This is what happens in Permaculture…surplus is fed back into the system or shared out!

www.bealtainecottage.com In this case there was a small surplus of blue paint…the outcome is what you see here!

www.bealtainecottage.comI woke to a magnificent sunrise this morning…Kilronan Mountain is shrouded in mist, so doesn’t appear to exist at all!

www.bealtainecottage.comBees are buzzing and birds are singing to herald in this wonderful Easter weekend here in the west of Ireland!

www.bealtainecottage.comWith the emergence of Spring, several weeks ago now, there has been an accumulation of heat and light working on the earth that promises an early Summer.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe promise of seedlings has excelled…it appears that every seed sown has germinated!

www.bealtainecottage.com Fortunately, now that I have five beautiful hens, seedlings that are excess to requirements can simply be fed to the hens as a wonderful source of nutrition.

www.bealtainecottage.comSome of the seedlings are also used by me in salads, again a wonderful source of nutrition!

www.bealtainecottage.comSlabs of bedrock, rising out of the earth all over the land here at Bealtaine, show off their pink colour in the drying air of late Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.comPrimroses play peek-a-boo on the driveway.

www.bealtainecottage.comCrocosmia show off a vibrant lime-green in the early morning light.

www.bealtainecottage.comBack to blue, because…

www.bealtainecottage.comI simply cannot resist it!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe vibrant pink of this Saxifrage has found a perfect bed in the gravel driveway…another reason why tarmac is a non-starter here!

www.bealtainecottage.comPrimroses aren’t the only things around here playing peek-a-boo!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe mist in the valley has cut off Kilronan Mountain.

www.bealtainecottage.comFurther up the gardens, behind where I now stand, Comfrey, Lovage, Fennel, Valerian and Chives are all about a foot high and looking very robust in the late Spring, early morning light.

www.bealtainecottage.comBy my feet, the Euphorbia flowers.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd indoors, on the dresser, reminders of Spring and Easter…

www.bealtainecottage.comHappy Easter to all!

PS: Next month will the my tenth anniversary of Bealtaine Cottage.

Today marks the 700th blog!

Sustainable Food Revolution

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Living in a time when the cost of food is rising day on day, it might be time to re-think the lawn! This is what Bill Mollison, one of the founders of the Permaculture movement has to say on the subject:

Bill Mollison

“. . . every society that grows extensive lawns could produce all its food on the same area, using the same resources, and . . . world famine could be totally relieved if we devoted the same resources of lawn culture to food culture in poor areas. These facts are before us. Thus, we can look at lawns, like double garages and large guard dogs, [and Humvees and SUVs] as a badge of willful waste, conspicuous consumption, and lack of care for the earth or its people.Most lawns are purely cosmetic in function. Thus, affluent societies have, all unnoticed, developed an agriculture which produces a polluted waste product, in the presence of famine and erosion elsewhere, and the threat of water shortages at home.

The lawn has become the curse of modern town landscapes as sugar cane is the curse of the lowland coastal tropics, and cattle the curse of the semi-arid and arid rangelands…

www.bealtainecottage.comOver the past few days I have been busy converting this little shed into a new hen house and run…food to swap and share…fresh eggs! it is going to be a simple enough barter, swapping a sack of logs for nine eggs. Most logs are traded at 3.50 a sack, so that’s a fair swap!

www.bealtainecottage.comThat makes a good swap as eggs are getting more expensive by the day and the logs will be delivered to my door! I just have to ensure that the hen house and run are secure against Mr ans Mrs Fox and family!

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As Spring moves across the land, a drying wind is working its magic on the earth. The greening is under-way.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe view from the sitting room window is being filled in like a ‘Painting By Numbers,’ canvas. Ash trees are the last to get their leaves and so stand proud in all their silver glory against temperamental Spring skies.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is the beautiful Field Maple to the front of the cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comContinuing my lifelong passion for trees…this is a wall tile I made from clay…complete with tree, a fairy tree.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe lone Fairy Thorn one often sees growing in the middle of fields here in Ireland served as my inspiration. They are often windswept and leaning away from the west.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis sits upon the dresser in the kitchen…a time when preserves were sold in stoneware jars. All containers were re-cycled, in that they were re-used…even milk bottles! Lemonade bottles had a money deposit attached to them and children would collect them up to return to the shop, as a way of earning pocket money!

www.bealtainecottage.comEven cream came in little stoneware jars like this, as it kept cool in the pantry in the days before every home had a fridge!

“A sacred way of life connects us to the people and places around us. That means that a sacred economy must be in large part a local economy, in which we have multidimensional, personal relationships with the land and people who meet our needs, and whose needs are met in turn.”
― Juliana Birnbaum FoxSustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide

A Walk through the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage on the Last Day of Bealtaine

Under the kitchen window

Mayflower and meadowsweet

Pond at bealtaine cottage

willow arches, dogwood and beech

Bog garden at Bealtaine cottage

willow and birch grow together

willow archway at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens

Pond garden at bealtaine Cottage

crossing the pond

bog garden of bealtaine

Pond in May at Bealtaine Cottage

permaculture gardens of bealtaine cottage

bird and bee house at bealtaine cottage

a Roscommon Garden at Bealtaine Cottage  Ireland

Sweet Cicely in bloom at Bealtaine Cottage

Poppy in flower at Bealtaine Cottage

Around the cottage of Bealtaine

hens at Bealtaine Cottage

Stop for a coffee at Bealtaine Cottage

I have grown all of my Blackcurrant bushes from seed or cuttings!
I have a surplus of Blackcurrant cuttings at the moment and these are offered for sale at this link…
https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/
 
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“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”
Wendell Berry

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