Posted in Earth, festivals, Ireland, Permaculture, Poetry

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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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Climate, Cottage, Country Living, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Nature, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Spirituality, Spring, Wild Flowers, Wildlife, Woodland

Ascending Towards Midsummer

www.bealtainecottage.com

This is not colour enhanced, but the vivid colours between storms here in the west of Ireland!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe buds are still thickening, yet the life is visible in the stems, sky and emerging green…isn’t it simply wonderful to be able to witness the Spring as it progresses, slowly, tentatively through the landscape?

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is the skyline above the Arigna Mountains, with a Rainbow, flopped over the ridge of the hill!

I watched this from the window, then rushed out with camera in hand to snap the moment!

www.bealtainecottage.comI feel blessed to be a part of the Spring, waking earlier, walking for longer and working in the tunnel in my dressing gown!

www.bealtainecottage.comShowing some wonderful garden visitors around over the weekend, reminded me of the reasons why I write and talk about Permaculture and the simple way of life…it lifts my heart to be a part of it!

As we walked the land and into the Fairy Wood, the sight of all this bright green Spurge ignited a passion for woodland in us all.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe Celandines are so bright and golden as to seem unreal…but that is the wonder of Nature, Mother Earth…too beautiful!

www.bealtainecottage.comThere is work to be done too, but all to the beat of the weather…weather-proofing all the wood around the cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comLavender is the colour, soft on the eye, but tough and resilient!

www.bealtainecottage.comExcess donations to the website renewal were used to pay for the wood preservative…so bless you one and all, Friends of Bealtaine XXX

www.bealtainecottage.comMy right arm hurts from all the painting, but it was in desperate need!

The heavy rain we get in Ireland can ruin buildings if they are not looked after!

www.bealtainecottage.comI watched this small slug acrobat his way onto the potting table in the tunnel…on a long thin thread, like a spider!

So, that’s how they do it!

www.bealtainecottage.comGeranium is coming into leaf and exploding green under the apple trees…a good companion plant for keeping weeds at bay!

Bumble bees are in busy flight all across the gardens.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe light grows in intensity, day on day, fading into the west way after nine o’clock in the evening.

www.bealtainecottage.comOn a clear day, the heat can be quite intense…

www.bealtainecottage.com…as the sun continues its ascent towards Midsummer.

Blessings to you all XXX

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Posted in Badgers, biodiversity, Birds, Garden, Gardening, Gardens, Growing Food, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Trees, Uncategorized

Permaculture Brings Hope…before and after images!

It’s been almost nine years since I began planting this smallholding in the west of Ireland. Before permaculture. Bealtaine CottageMany of you are familiar with the landscape as it looked then.

The picture above shows Bealtaine Cottage after a lot of cutting and clearing, around the time that the planting began. June 2011 permaculture cottage 021

This picture shows the same view today.

As you can see, the cottage is obscured…melting into the gardens of intense production.

Bealtaine Cottage before and after

The lonely, abandoned cottage on the first day I saw it.

Bealtaine Cottage driveway

Disappeared into the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage…nine years of planting by one woman and a spade!

Installin permaculture pond at Bealtaine CottageThis picture shows the Bog Garden after the first pond was created and the surrounding land cleaned up for planting.

Photographs taken at the time depict a barren looking, rushy, wet landscape that offered little hope or sanctuary for gardeners, growers, wildlife or Nature.

Permaculture Cottage July 2011 016The same view down to the pond is obscured with dense and abundant planting.

This nine year journey has opened my eyes and my mind to the problems facing the entire planet in terms of food production, sustainable living and facilitating Nature.

The answer is simple.

June 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 023Plant!

As the planting develops, so fertility returns to the land.

Tree planting at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture 015Birds choose to set up home nearby.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture March 2011 016Frogs, Toads and Newts find their way to your pond and start to breed.

wild orchids at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture 019Wild flowers make a show…like these wild Orchids.

apple trees at Bealtaine Permaculture Cottage July 2011 011Fruit trees and bushes grow and give you fruit…more than what can be harvested!

tunnel at Bealtaine cottage005Micro-climates evolve as everything grows.

June 2011 Permaculture 002Fuel is harvested.

Small mammals settle into chosen areas…there is a Badger set at Bealtaine Cottage now.

veranda at Bealtaine CottageYour body becomes attuned to the seasons and good health follows.

The best part of all this, is that although permaculture requires  labour to set up, it is maintained with minimal work and attention.

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Country Living, Eco-Living, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Frank Lloyd Wright was Right

I have had a love affair with the Irish Cottage for most of my life.

The image in my head of a typical cottage is one of nurture and contentment.

A place that nestles into the landscape…

This was the cottage of my great grandmother, Mary Anne Higgins-Baxter, in Omagh, on the Derry Road.

The gable end faced the road as was the custom.

I carry with me lovely, soft, memories of her beautiful home.

She died before I could get to know her, but her cottage was just filled with her incredible energy and spirit!

This cottage, where birds and bees feel just as at home as humans…there are always lots of small gaps around the roof and walls where insects, bats and birds can over-winter.

Such imperfection is perfect for life…

Surrounded by Nature, freshened by gentle breezes and beckoning one to venture in…

Frank Lloyd Wright once said that, “The good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.”

Frank Lloyd Wright was right!

Posted in Animals, Art, Autumn, Books, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, cows, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Suibhne, the Wild Man in the Forest

As the wild and vivid colours of autumn consume the landscape around me and the nights draw in, illuminated by a full moon, I have been reading 12th century Irish verse…my ancestors had a deep respect for the natural world as displayed in these extracts…

“Little antlered one, little belling one, melodious little bleater, sweet I think the lowing that you make in the glen.

Home-sickness for my little dwelling has come upon my mind, the calves in the plain, the deer on the moor.

Oak, bushy, leafy, you are high above trees; hazel-bush, little branchy one, coffer of hazel-nuts.

Alder, you are not spiteful, lovely is your colour, you are not prickly when you are in the gap.

Blackthorn, little thorny one, black little sloe-bush; water-cress, little green-topped one, on the brink of the blackbird’s well.

Saxifrage of the pathway, you are the sweetest of herbs; cress, very green one; plant where the strawberry grows.

Apple-tree, little apple-tree, violently everyone shakes you; rowan, little berried one, lovely is your bloom.

Bramble, little humped one, you do not grant fair terms; you do not cease tearing me till you are sated with blood.

Yew, little yew, you are conspicuous in graveyards; ivy, little ivy, you are familiar in the dark wood.

Holly, little shelterer, door against the wind; ash-tree, baneful, weapon in the hand of a warrior.

Birch, smooth, blessed, proud, melodious, lovely is each entangled branch at the top of your crest.

Aspen, as it trembles, from time to time I hear its lovely rustling, and think it is the foray…

Taken from: ‘Suibhne the Wild Man in the Forest’   

           Irish; author unknown; twelfth century

Posted in Abundance, biodiversity, Culture, Growing Food, Inspiration, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Roscommon, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Ireland under Permaculture could feed Europe!

It is difficult to comprehend, without seeing this photograph, that what is now a lush, abundant paradise, was once a barren monoculture, devoid of wildlife, birdsong and no biodiversity to speak of…

This was Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Smallholding on day one of the transformation, only made possible by applying permaculture principles and design.

What you are looking at is the view of the land from the cottage itself.

The transformation has been carried out single-handedly, by myself, aided only by planting, mulching and manuring, again carried out by hand over the course of eight years.

Today I decided to visit the well which feeds water to the cottage. The landscape of the hill behind the cottage remains unchanged, so you can see for yourself how inhospitable the cottage and land first looked…

Click on the link below to watch…

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

Posted in celebrations, Country Living, Inspiration, Permaculture, Uncategorized

New Year’s Eve on a Permaculture Smallholding…

Trees…Our Only Hope…

Planting trees on New Year’s Eve at Bealtaine Cottage.

These were Christmas presents from Earth Lovers…Thank you!

The Colours of Winter

Today is the last day of the old year, but colour abounds on this permaculture landscape.

Climate Change?

Roses in bloom on this last day of December…an indication of the extremely mild weather we have experienced in the west of Ireland. This has been a very wet month and the records may show just how much!

Dogwoods, Willows and Fedges.

Lichens

Lichens have multiplied in the rainy month of December. It’s worth going walking just to see these beautiful creations of Nature.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Posted in Autumn, Cottage, Earth, Ecology, Garden, Inspiration, Life, Permaculture, Spirituality, Thoughts, Uncategorized

A Life in the Country ~ The Progress of Autumn through a Permaculture Landscape…

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.

– Andrew Wyeth

Out walking Jack in the early morning sunshine and spying hundreds of silvery webs on the hedgerows, mostly with a lone spider in the centre of each.

The Sedums and Rudbeckias are in full bloom as the colours of the leaves golden up…this is one of the best times of the year to go walking.

We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we all have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.– Louisa May Alcott

Hundreds of webs, sparkling with raindrops in the early morning sun at Bealtaine Cottage…

Whether one sees the world as God’s creation or as a secular mystery that science is on the way to figuring out, there is no denying the beauty and majesty of everything from mountain ranges, deserts, and rain forests to the exquisite details in the design of an ordinary mosquito. [Spirituality for the Skeptic]

– Robert C. Solomon

The stillness of the Lower Pond today as the frenetic flooding of the past two days subside.

Copper Beech and Dogwoods line a path in the Bog Garden near the Lower Pond this morning. Beech trees colour up wonderfully in Autumn.

Leaves along the grassy verge on the laneway up through the land of Bealtaine Smallholding…

Posted in Abundance, Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, Eco-Living, Garden, Ireland, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

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

Posted in Family, History, Ireland, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Old Stone Cottages and Windswept Mountains in the West of Ireland…Bealtaine Permaculture

Kilronan Mountain melts away into the valley below on a glorious easter sunday evening… The land below stretches west to Sligo Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, south to Boyle and the land of Roscommon  and east towards Dublin City. Loughs are too numerous to mention, villages and townlands with ancient names that stretch back into the mists of legends. Beauty that is both exhilarating and tragic… Abandoned amidst the bleak beauty of Kilronan Mountain, it’s empty windows gazing out across an early summer landscape.Ireland is dotted with these beautiful and evocative old stone cottages. It is heartbreaking to think of the skill and hard work involved in building these unique, vernacular style homes…and like this one, sometimes in the most windswept landscapes imaginable.As the evening draws in and the air begins to chill, it’s time to leave the mountain behind and head home to the warmth of Bealtaine Cottage and a mug of hot tea.