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 Day in Early Spring

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Juicing is a great way to ensure one has the maximum of vitamins and minerals and this is something I do every day.
It’s also a reason to keep greens growing all the year around, as even small bits can be added to the juicer and vital vitamins extracted.
I’ve used some small bits of Kale that have escaped the frost and storms.
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There is no waste in Permaculture, just compost and more vegetables growing! Compost is the food needed to grow food!
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Slowly, slowly the Willow is cut and stacked…time is running out as the buds thicken! Baskets, Fedges and Obelisks are standing here!
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These beds are fairly sheltered and continue to produce Kale, which is processed in the juicer.
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Fine Willow used in basket weaving waiting to be harvested. The gardens look colourful all the way through Winter, as the stems of Willow, Dogwood, Ash and Birch are revealed.
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So much rain has fallen here in Ireland this Winter and now, in the early days of Spring, the flooding has begun to dominate the landscape. Here at Bealtaine cottage I spent much time in the early days digging out drains and water channels, as well as keeping them maintained over the past ten years…and it has paid off, as you can see from the lower pond. The water runs free, out into the streams and rivers that take it to the Atlantic Ocean. 
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In sheltered areas all over the gardens the ferns have remained green, though a little bit droopy. The winter was mild and warm, with plenty of rain!
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This is the beginning of the wood pile for next winter. It comprises of coppiced logs of Birch, Ash and Hazel. The twiggy bits are thrown into the back of the pile as they make wonderful kindling! These logs may be small, but are perfect for a small wood-burning stove!
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I’ve been stocking up on straw recently, as this makes great mulch around the garden helping to suppress weeds and line paths.
www.bealtainecottage.comGreen Beech hold their leaves right through Winter, adding even more colour and shelter to the gardens! 
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And look who’s keeping an eye on me as I type…my loyal Jack!

Tree Gardens

www.bealtainecottage.com 043Winter is here, though it’s hard to believe! Flowers continue to bloom and leaves remain in the process of changing colour. Bowls of apples in the cottage create a sense of Autumn.

www.bealtainecottage.com 069Vibrant colours create a different garden, a very seasonal garden thanks to the many trees! The Sedum keeps its shape, despite the small frost that has attempted destruction of these tender-stemmed plants.

www.bealtainecottage.com 044Perlagoniums send forth small flowers, protected from the worst of the elements by the warmth of the window-sill. These will be collected up soon and stored in a corner of the little barn, until March, when I shall move them into the tunnel in readiness for the summer.

www.bealtainecottage.com 051An Autumn garden is a tree garden, for this is the season when the quiet, sturdy, soldiers of Earth have their very own festival…a final fling of a party before bed!

www.bealtainecottage.com 053Even the stems of the young trees join in, merging colours with the falling leaves!

www.bealtainecottage.com 052Can you see the little mushroom to the left of Che-Mousey? The earth under many of the trees is bringing forth all kinds of mushrooms!

www.bealtainecottage.com 055The coppiced tree is a Hazel…they do very well from being coppiced and grow tall, straight Hazel poles. I use these in the vegetable beds for beans.

www.bealtainecottage.com 058The air is still and warm this morning and I’m reminded of the storm hitting the Philippines at this time. The radio tells me that this is the strongest storm ever! I wish safety to all caught up in this impending disaster!  Despite the debate that hangs in the corporate media about Climate Change, there is, most definitely, Weather Change!

www.bealtainecottage.com 059Che-Mousey has become my constant companion since Missy passed on. His personality becomes more apparent to me, as I get to spend time with him. He was always a very shy cat, but has recently blossomed and I am delighting in seeing the change in him!

www.bealtainecottage.com 060I really should write something here, but am simply staring at the colours and sipping coffee!

www.bealtainecottage.com 062Fennel seeds by the veranda this morning.

www.bealtainecottage.com 067And a warm winter cottage thanks to trees!

Coppicing Trees for Future Forests

Dwarf sunflower at Bealtaine Cottage

The day is warm and still.

flower arrangementThere’s a hint of early autumn in the air.

coppicing birch trees in the permaculture gardensI have been working in the gardens, coppicing trees.

This morning I coppiced this lovely Birch tree.

The trunk remains growing about a metre or so from the earth and will rapidly produce several new stems, that will thicken up to give even more wood for the cottage in a few short years.

Che Mousey Bear relaxes on the benchCoppicing was carried out on all medieval woodlands and is the reason why there are so many old trees in counties of England.

coppicing at Bealtaine CottageCoppicing regularly will enable a tree to live for several thousand years!

The main stem will be sawn into small logs and stored in the barn.

Shredding tree branches to use as mulchThe remaining small branches are shredded and used as a mulch on the Potager Beds! So everything is returned to the Earth.

Trees are a direct way of enabling the harvest of solar energy.cats at Bealtaine CottageMeanwhile,

Missy Cat lounges on the gravelas I worked, the cats relaxed, as only they can do…

bees on NasturtiumsAnd the bees kept working…

Bealtaine Cottage verandaAnd the morning drifted effortlessly…

fennelinto a beautiful afternoon…

Garden steps

Yuletide Celebrations

Yuletide is an ancient celebration.

Midwinter mist at Bealtaine CottageAs the mist encircles the cottage this morning and the stillness of the air creates echoes along the hill, Midwinter seems very close.

Painted Irish dresser at Bealtaine CottageThis is traditionally a time for people to come together and celebrate the midwinter, with feasting, music and dancing.

I have been busy painting and decorating the cottage in preparation for this special time.

Even the old dresser has been given a much needed coat of paint!

Mist and trees in the permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageYule is traditionally celebrated over twelve days.

This is where the Twelve days of Christmas come from.

It is also traditional to have a Yule log which will burn all night, on the longest night of the year.

The barn is filled with logs for the stoves.

Most of the wood comes from fast growing Ash, a tree which grows easily here in the west of Ireland.

Wood burning stove at Bealtaine CottageLight is important at this time and this is where the idea of Christmas lights comes from.

Opening the doors of the wood burning stove in the sitting room, allows light to fill the room.

There are many celebrations of light all across the world at this time.

Irish dresser in the cottage kitchen at Bealtaine CottageWe are drawn towards the light, in this time of darkness and mellow sunlight.

The winter will have reached it’s shortest day this week.

The Barn at Bealtaine Cottage, midwinter 2012 A time to celebrate, keep warm and look forward to the ascent towards Spring.

Veranda at Bealtaine Cottage, midwinter 2012Make the most of this beautiful aspect of the year, wrap up warm and spent time outdoors.

There is beauty in every day…and it allows you to appreciate the warmth of your home.

Happy Yuletide, everyone!

Permaculture Cottage Daily ~ Wonderful Visitors, Dr Helen Caldicott and Seamus Heaney

Wednesday 7th September 2011

More Wonderful Visitors to Bealtaine Cottage…

But, before I begin…

This wonderful young fella turned up at the protest on Monday evening, outside the Council Offices in Carrick-on-Shannon…complete with Gas mask, (Josh Fox) style and home made placard and got a rousing cheer from the protesters!

Visitors to the Permaculture Smallholding today… Bernie and Colin.

Both inspired and enthused with lots of ideas and lots of free plants to take back to the 7 acres Colin tending near Ballinamore. Wonderful people, filled with good energy and leaving some of it behind for me.

I am a great believer in good energy and realise how important this is for people to thrive. Those whose energy is sick or failing can get very angry with life and lash out at people. Many of these people can do a great deal of damage as warmongers and people of greed. We have all encountered people like this on our journey.

Wood-chopping and Tidying up…

And as the day moves on, the chores continue…chopping wood for the stove, though it’s warm today and I will light the smaller stove in the sitting room later on, just for comfort and hot water.

The tidy up continues, as I clear out sheds and bag up endless bags for the charity shop in Carrick. Kevin, who runs it, is always so very pleasant and appreciative, it is a delight to visit!

As I take a rest on the veranda, I can’t help but think of the events of Fukushima this year and how it has so quickly disappeared from our news media.

Dr Helen Caldicott has spent most of her professional life keeping us informed of the facts about Nuclear energy and all the associated problems.

Here is Helen talking about the recent events at Fukushima…it’s well worth a watch…just click on the link below!

http://youtu.be/4ITrXVJMKeQ

Food for the birds this winter…no more birdfeeders, which hang in gardens until enough plants have been planted that will feed wildlife proper. That point was reached several years ago as you can see.

This is Cotoneaster, one of many berry bearing shrubs that will more than adequately keep birds fed over the course of a long winter!

One of my favourite poets is Seamus Heaney.

Following the day that became known as, “Bloody Sunday,” Seamus made his way to Derry for the funerals of the thirteen.

This is the poem he wrote about that journey and that day.

Click on the link to hear the poem and see some black and white footage of the events of both the journey and the sad events.

http://youtu.be/xLMlY56sahI

Sunny Permaculture Gardens at Bealtaine…June 1st.

Alder logs ready to be stacked in the barn and seasoned! Such a beautiful colour and such a fast- growing wood.

Spirea, ‘Bridal wreath,’…so-named for its arching habit which would make wreaths easily…beautiful in a bouquet too!

Calendula in the tunnel earlier today. Such a lovely, orangey scent from both the flowers and the foliage!

This gorgeous little Herb Robert is everywhere this year…conditions must be perfect for it!

Willow paths leading under willow arches that lead to other places in the garden…and yes…it was sunny for most of the day!

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Permaculture in Ireland.

Moon in the sky last night over Bealtaine, lighting the way back from the tunnel. the Cuckoo was still calling, even in the dark of the night and light of the moon. as we ascend towards Midsummer, the Cuckoo barely sleeps. I have heard him call in the middle of the night!

The garden becomes a jungle as the rain falls and the sun shines inbetween. Willow is shooting up and all of the trees are rapidly assuming a look of maturity, though they are far from it, being 7 years old and younger!

Permaculture is about connections, keeping mindful of our connections to the Earth, so walking the land is very important. Walking the land at dusk is an uplifting experience, hearing the Blackbird sing the last song of the day. Thousands of years ago our ancestors kept mindfulness of the seasons and the rivers and all that lived thereon. my ancestors, the Celts, believed that all living things had a spirit and God dwelt within all! It is easy to believe that same wonder of understanding…should not the creator be in all creation? An artist paints a picture…ask the artist how much of herself can be found therein?

The logs continue to be stacked in the barn in preparation for winter. Most of the wood is Ash and Sycamore and burns well, providing a good source of heat for the cottage which is sustainable and carbon balanced. I am aware that more and more people here in Ireland are returning to a multi-fuel source of heating for their homes, which can only be a good thing. For too long there has been a reliance on oil and a devaluation of our own resources!

Hothouse Flowers in a Permaculture Environment. Evening @ Bealtaine Cottage

Laburnum and Ferns, hastily picked, make a casual, summer bouquet for the sitting room window of the cottage. I never buy flowers and don’t support the polluting, hothouse methods involved in growing shop bought arrangements. The seasonal look is more in keeping with caring for the environment as well as being much more stylish.

The rain has passed over for the day as the evening sweeps in from the East. Hoping for a lot more if the wells are going to resume full flow! I still haven’t moved the logs as the rain has continued unabated for most of the day. Added to this is the task of clearing out the barn in order to stack the logs, which is pending…ahem!

Jack has been having a ripping time, literally…nothing is safe around him! I got him some massive bones from the butcher yesterday and he has been crunching and chewing away to his heart’s content! I can’t quite get over just how intelligent he is! I would advise anyone thinking of getting a pet to visit their local animal sanctuary first…you might be as lucky as myself and come away with a gem like Jack!

Looking out the window onto the veranda is uplifting when the roses are in bloom. I planted a grapevine further along, into a couple of tyres and have big expectations for equally bountiful harvests of grapes!