Ireland: Life before and after The Merchants of Greed…

The radio is talking about economic growth/lack of it/regulators/lack of them…

They are all lacking the essential connection, which to my mind is the actual land where they live!

All the time there’s talk about international investors, while fields grow high with rushes and Irish children leave school with little or no understanding of how to make a good life possible, here, in their homeland.

There was a time when anyone who could, grew fruit in this area to supply Lairds Jam Factory in Drumshanbo.

Well, the factory closed and the fruit growing stopped!


There are few people who grow fruit in this area now, yet I harvested over 150lbs of Blackcurrants with ease this year and the Apple trees I planted are bent double with the weight of beautiful Apples…all organically grown!

We should be turning off the radios and televisions and asking ourselves some serious questions, because the only investments worth growing are not to be found on the Economic Markets…after all, you can’t eat talk!

Using a re-cycled water bottle,  for the past eight years, contains my homegrown version of washing powder…mild soap bars, cut into chunks and all shook up in this bottle with some spring water added.

  1. Total cost: In the region of 10 cents per wash cycle.

  2. Total Damage to the Earth: Minimal compared to the average Washing Machine Powder or Liquid!

  3. Usability: Really easy!

  4. Does it work: The real work is done by the tumbling action of the washing machine…didn’t you know? The soap just softens the water and helps the washing action.

  5. How much money can you save per year? : Work this one out for yourself.

  6. Message: Stop being brainwashed by advertising from the big chemical companies. YOU DON’T NEED THEM!

  7. P.S. My clothes are clean!!!

    Blackberries are really ripe for harvesting at the moment!

    Mixed with some of my apples, these will make a fine Blackberry and Apple Jelly.

    So far, the pillowcase method of straining the juice has served me well, washing the pillowcase and ironing it to sterilise.

    However, there are few people to be found harvesting berries for free, though many to be seen in the supermarkets buying jam filled with chemicals!

    Elderberries are just beginning to ripen, so the harvest will continue well into September!

    Permaculture is about living on less while at the same time continually running a surplus, because there appears to be a surplus of everything except paper money!

    Sharing the surplus with family and friends is a happy thing to do.

    The philosophy of sharing makes one feel extremely wealthy and begin to question the value system that exists in society around us.

    Permaculture can and does change lives.

    I believe it is the way forward, especially looking at the present state of the Irish economy.

    There is a saying here in Ireland, more relevant today than ever it was before, “People appear to have lost the run of themselves”…how sad, how true!

    But then, before the Economists, bankers, government and people lost the run of themselves, there was a quiet generosity of spirit that embraced the country.

    An open door…this is what Ireland used to be about…I wonder how many doors are freely open today?

    Ivan Illich, social thinker, has written many books criticising present day society and its failure…privileged people can escape the need to be consumers and be ‘doers’, instead, whereas the under-privileged seek satisfaction in consumerism, all that is packaged and pushed their way.

    The way forward lies in nurturing confidence in people to enable them to take more control of their lives…knowledge is power and empowering people to move away from big institutions and useless economic models is enabling empowerment for everyone!

    As John Seymour once wrote…”To allow ourselves to be dependent on some vast Thing created by the Merchants of Greed is madness.

    It is time to cut out what we do not need so we can live more simply and happily.

    Good food, comfortable clothes, serviceable housing and true culture – those are the things that matter.

    The only way this can happen is by ordinary people, us, boycotting the huge multinational corporations that are destroying our Earth – and create a new Age – an Age of Healing in place of the current Age of Plunder.”

     

A Sense of Purpose

This is a month of many visitors to Bealtaine.

It is also the month of midsummer.

The ascent towards the solstice is happening.

It is actually visible in the growth all around me at Bealtaine Cottage.

Grass has grown tall and is seeding.

Nettles are almost past their prime, for once the flower heads appear their culinary use is forbidden.

Blossoms are ready to harvest, especially the Elderflower, one of the most delicate and exquisite flowers to use for making cordial, jam and champagne.

Elderflower cordial, once made and safely bottled, will keep easily for a year or more…not that I have ever kept it that long!

It is one of the best tastes of summer, if not the best!

Many of the visitors to Bealtaine Cottage are as interested in the spiritual aspects of permaculture, as the practical aspects of embracing permaculture as a lifestyle choice.

I see both as intertwined, for as permaculture is practised, spiritual awareness deepens and religious thinking diminishes.

A transformation occurs that takes the participant to a higher plain of awareness and understanding.

For me, permaculture has led me quite naturally to a life of simplicity and increasing awareness of the natural world.

It has been a tuning in process that has reached a level of comfortable ordinariness.

In other words, I get it… I feel comfortable within the universe.

There is incredible peace of mind in a permaculture lifestyle.

Most of the time, the brain is in an alpha state, with virtually no anxiety.

There is little to be anxious about, as this lifestyle choice both empowers and disregards.

With little need for money, the desire to consume is abated and diminished.

The consuming society is fast consuming itself and mostly for greed, ego or other negative reasons.

So much of the negativity which once dominated thinking, is disregarded, thrown off.

Life is embraced as a series of sunrises and sunsets and all the day in between, noticing the natural environment, planting, harvesting and simply being.

Many who are unemployed can turn to permaculture as an unlimited resource, fractionalised only by one’s own imagination.

A sense of purpose is easily attained by working close to the Earth.

Here at Bealtaine Cottage, as the night draws in and the rain scatters nourishment upon the plants, I take a final walk around the cottage before reluctantly going in for the night…

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Changing Colours of Autumn.

Splitting logs of Ash for use in the stove this winter. This wood is easy to grow and easy to harvest if continuously coppiced. Ash, if coppiced, can grow steadily for 2,000 years and more. Ash can be burned in the green, that is, on the day it is cut. It is the perfect the perfect permaculture fuel!

Michelmass daisies and almost ripe pears heralds the middle of Autumn. Both pear trees are heavy with fruit. This winter I will plant more fruit trees, definitely plum and pear among them!

As the season progresses and the harvest is gathered in, the recipe books are opened and real saving of the harvest begins. So far I have made Autumn Chutney, apple chutney, various pickles and jams as well as a most unusual Blackcurrant Chutney.

Colours of Autumn simply absorb the whole landscape. This picture from today at Bealtaine Cottage says it all!

And more colour…

Grapes in the tunnel this morning. This is the best harvest so far. These are sweet and juicy. I am attempting to grow a vine outside here in the west of Ireland and will keep you posted!

Maddy Harland, from Permaculture Magazine, has published a post from Bealtaine Cottage this morning. here’s the link… @PermaGoddess thank you! it’s up http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/2809111143/ancient-ireland-our-ancestors-original-permaculture-forest

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Pantry

Sweetcorn harvested over the weekend…this is the native American corn, called ‘Painted Mountain,’ and is very colourful!

I will save some of the corn seeds for planting next year…

Heaps and heaps of windfalls… planting apple trees is cheap and easy and all you do is wait for the windfall! Ha! Ha!…I love it. Simple, easy and so very permaculture!

And more apples in the pantry…buckets of them…free food, good food and not a corporation in sight!

Free-range eggs with deep orange yolks and pumpkins in the pantry today…it’s starting to fill up as the  harvest comes in…

Bountiful Blackcurrants…waiting to be turned into jam, chutney, wine et al, rest in the freezer in the Pantry.

Permaculture Cottage ~ Food and Fairies

Mulching is really important once the dry weather sets in! It keeps the moisture in the ground as well as suppressing weeds. The fruit trees and fruit bushes were all mulched heavily during May. This helps to produce a good harvest as the fruit plumps out according to the amount of moisture they receive.

In gardening, mulch is a protective cover placed over the soil to retain moisture, reduce erosion, provide nutrients, and suppress weed growth and seed germination. Mulching in gardens and landscaping mimics the leaf cover that is found on forest floors.

This is the tunnel today. Courgettes, Pumpkins, Fennel and Corn are all producing well. As crops come to fruition, the ground is cleared, fresh compost is spread and new plants set out. Compost is rich in nutrients and used for all planting at Bealtaine Cottage. The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus  and as a natural pesticide for soil.

Courgette flower today and small fruit underneath. Courgettes are one of my favourite veg, especially cooked as fritters and served with a homemade, tomato salsa sauce…mmm! Courgette is also known as Zucchini!

When used for food, zucchini are usually picked when under 20 cm in length, when the seeds are still soft and immature. Mature zucchini can be as much as three feet long and known as Marrows. These are delicious stuffed and baked! Jam can also be made using Marrows…Marrow and Ginger jam is delicious!

Courgettes can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés. It also can be baked into a bread, zucchini bread or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.

Zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad, baked into a bread similar to banana bread.

A place of calm and quiet contemplation…

The path that leads out from the Fairy Dell…

And deep within the Fairy Dell, Cow Parsley reaches up towards the sky…

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Daily News from Ireland…Bumper Permaculture Harvest!

The first day of Autumn in the Celtic calendar and the harvest continues. Blackcurrants are being picked at Bealtaine, along with masses of herbs, including Oregano, Chives, Dill and Fennel…though the Fennel in the tunnel is seeding and will be dried and stored for baking purposes later on.

The Plum trees are bearing up well with the wight of the fruit and this will be used for jam and wine. I have planted four Plum trees so far and am also growing some trees from seed.

Yes…it’s hard to believe, but there have been bumper harvest every year at Bealtaine and this is set to continue as the land moves from monoculture in year one to wonderful biodiversity in year seven, with shelter developing and compost heaps bursting…

This is the Fennel in the tunnel this morning, with a good crop of seeds developing.

Apple too are plumping out well…juice, chutneys, pies and crumbles here!

Remember the immense power as a consumer you have…and ultimately, your ability, with others, to control the market…buying Fairtrade and supporting local producers is one way to control the market for the good, rather than giving your precious money and support to the global corporations who wreak havoc on our world…

Rescue Dog Jack, Abundant Rhubarb and Irusan…Another Permaculture Day in Ireland

 

Just returned from the Animal Rescue Centre in Leitrim with the latest addition to the family…Jack!

Never a replacement for The Tomster, but in need of a home and Bealtaine is just that! he’s wandering about the cottage at the moment and sussing everything out!

He is a little bit nervous at the moment as you can see, but I expect he will settle in quite rapidly. It’ll take time then for us to bond and become trusting of each other…time will out!

Harvesting Rhubarb yesterday evening, just as the moon was rising…this is some of the crop, now sliced and in bags in the freezer, waiting for the wine and jam making process. The problem with permaculture is just keeping up with the abundance…

This is a plant box I made several years ago from reclaimed timber and driftwood. Planted out with edibles it will be really useful on the veranda, growing within easy reach of the kitchen…especially when it’s raining!

Irusan the cat has gone home to allow Jack to settle in without being continually glowered at…Irusan is pretty good at making a dog feel very uncomfortable…except for those he likes!

It looks like I’m in for an eventful weekend!

No Money, just Abundance! Permaculture @ Bealtaine Smallholding, Ireland

Through a glass darkly…April Fool in the garden, reflection from a mirror.

Today is the first of April and the radio is talking about economic growth, again, and will continue to do ad infinatum…the only growth worth talking about is what happens here, on earth, on terra firma and there is so much growth it can be difficult keeeping up with it. The government’s economic growth for Ireland is only to pay back ginormous debts to Europe! Growth here, at Bealtaine is about food, fuel, wildlife, love and happiness…permaculture paradise.

No money…but, no poverty…I look around me at abundance, on this, the first day of April.

Flower buds on the redcurrant promises an abundance of fruit, which in turn promises an abundance of wine and puddings and jam and jelly and…no money, but no poverty!

Fruit trees and bushes, interspersed in hedges promise abundance, fruit for chutney, freezing, fruit butter, pies, cordials…no money, but no poverty…abundance!

No need to buy peanuts for the birds at Bealtaine…no money for peanuts, but, abundance of food to sustain a wide and varied bird population. Spindle in the foreground…