A Home for the Jackdaws

The Jackdaws have up residence in the unused chimney.

A beautiful pair of Jackdaws…here is the male keeping watch, waiting for the female to put the twig, carefully carried to the cave, into place in the nest. He will alert her to my presence!

He’s just spotted me! Now there followed a flapping of wings as both took off together into the cold, clear morning sky. I don’t object to their presence…let all life find sanctuary here at Bealtaine Cottage.
Yes indeed, it is very cold, with a deep cap of snow on Slieve Anierin to prove it.

Blossom on the Blackthorn is abundant this year…the Wild Bees are in their nectar Heaven, with a promise of Sloes to follow in Autumn.
The tunnel is evolving as my own sanctuary, where I can sit and observe the burgeoning life all around me. A place of silent retreat and mindfulness.
The days of clearing up the compost and pots area are almost at an end. The new compost area is now where the hundreds of pots used to be. The compost to the left will be distributed around the gardens where it is needed.
I intend planting out the old compost area with shrubs, to provide both protection from the east winds and colour to lighten the heart!

There remains much work to be done here in the gardens over the coming days and weeks. It is essential I get on with it! I shall leave you with the rest of the photographs I took this morning as I walked around the gardens.

Apple blossom ready to break out.
Blackcurrant blossom near to opening.

Mother

“I was elected by the women of Ireland, who instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system.”

~ Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland

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Walking through the upper gardens this morning and snapping photographs as I went…

DSC06686As I walked I thought about my Mother, my Grandmother and some of the women who have influenced my life, as Mother’s Day approaches…

DSC06687Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland was certainly one of those women!

DSC06694“The Irish presidential election of 1990 was the tenth held in Ireland and the first to include a female candidate. Independent politician Mary Robinson would go on to hold office for the next seven years. In the 1990 election, the Labour Party let it be known that it would run a candidate for the first time and nominated Robinson, a former Labour Party senator, and liberal campaigner. The renegade had been involved in the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform and is widely regarded and respected as atransformative figure in Ireland for liberalizing and revitalizing what was a conservative and low-profile political office. She was a remarkably popular president.” ~ http://www.irishcentral.com

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And so the transformation of Ireland and Irish politics began.

The patriarchal system of state and church had been given a bit of a shake down, but the real change began as we all began to feel more confident about questioning the world in which we lived.

DSC06672My own questions formed around the environment in which I lived, most importantly the Earth and our relationship with her.

I dreamed about returning to Ireland and challenging the status quo of land stewardship. Was it possible to do the seemingly impossible and recreate the Ireland of my deepest dreams?

A land of trees and woodlands, abundant wildlife, flowers and rich, seasonal colour?

A land of abundant food and shelter?

A land dedicated to the Great Mother…Earth?

Moreover, to even attempt to do this on some of the poorest land in Ireland?

DSC06682I felt empowered by Mary Robinson, as many women at home and abroad felt and continue to feel empowered.

DSC06683The opportunity to fulfil my dream came over a decade later, when, throwing all caution to the wind, I embarked on what was to become known as the Bealtaine Project.

DSC06685The book, “A Cottage and Three Acres,” picks up the story…

As I worked, sometimes into the night, planting and tending a hopeless looking land, I felt continual waves of compassion for Mother Earth.

I coaxed her, talked to her and sometimes even sang to her, the way one does with a seriously ill patient whose doctors have all but given up hope.

DSC06695I was not the only one though, for many, many others were embarking on a similar path all across Earth.

DSC06698I spoke with all who visited Bealtaine Cottage about Mother Earth, when few people seemed to recognise her plight.

But, something very incredible was happening…

DSC06699There was a distinct sense of energy rising from the very Earth herself…a form of communication at the most deeply intuitive level.

DSC06708 After years of feeling outcast because of what I sensed and felt, there happened a mighty shift in perception.

DSC06714As I began to write and photograph what was happening at Bealtaine, so many of you tuned in…often in the most serendipitous of ways!

DSC06715But, it was not accidental, for all is connected and often in ways we do not understand.

DSC06717And so the website began reaching  people all over the world.

DSC06718What began as an impossible dream, became a reality of hope for many…that nothing is impossible!

DSC06723That the doors of perception are not locked and barred!

DSC06724We are all, each and every one of us on an incredible journey, each one unique, yet deeply connected to all and everything.

We may live alone, but we are never alone.

DSC06730We are beautiful souls experiencing a human journey with the greatest Mother of them all…our own Mother Earth.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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A Cottage and Three Acres by Colette O’Neill

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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How To Build Your Own Polytunnel!

The polytunnel at Bealtaine Cottage has stood for eleven years, retaining it’s structure extremely well and providing all year round space for growing food. The plastic remains “as tight as a drum,” as any visitor to Bealtaine Cottage gardens will attest to.

In this blog I will endeavour to give you simple instructions on how to build your own polytunnel from scratch, as was done here…

To read more, go to Bealtaine Cottage Good life website at…

https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

Post Midsummer Polytunnel Gardening at Bealtaine Cottage

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 001

Second-phase food production is under way as from this week.

Midsummer has passed and many harvests are home or under-way.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 009This week has seen me clear the tunnel, spread lots of compost afresh on the beds and begin planting for the next phase of crops.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 010As I cleared the tunnel and collected masses of seeds and seed-heads, I was thinking about the crops I would plant.

Number one on my list is Kale; one of the great foods, especially in juicing.

Regular intake of Kale juice keeps health at a peak.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 013 Soil is the most important aspect of good food.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 007The food takes up the essential minerals and goodness in the soil and turns these into health-giving good food.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 015

This was a good time to prune the Peach Tree and remove about half of the Nectarines and feed the tree.

I left some of the herbs in place and moved the rest into pots and outside beds.

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
― Wendell BerryThe Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture 

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 016“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 019“Organic is something we can all partake of and benefit from. When we demand organic, we are demanding poison-free food. We are demanding clean air. We are demanding pure, fresh water. We are demanding soil that is free to do its job and seeds that are free of toxins. We are demanding that our children be protected from harm. We all need to bite the bullet and do what needs to be done—buy organic whenever we can, insist on organic, fight for organic and work to make it the norm. We must make organic the conventional choice and not the exception available only to the rich and educated.”
― Maria RodaleOrganic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 020

All the Poppy heads are now harvested, providing a massive amount of Poppy Seed…great in cooking and baking!

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 011“Someday we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture and shake our heads. How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?”
― Jane GoodallHarvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 022“All the human and animal manure which the world wastes, if returned to the land, instead of being thrown into the sea, would suffice to nourish the world.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Counting Down the Days

www.bealtainecottage.com 010Often times as I sit down to write this blog, it is evening and the day has come to settle here, in the cottage… the lamp illuminating the darkness, Jack sprawled out in front of the stove, with both cats in residence upon the sofas…I squeeze in somewhere!

DSCF0670The stillness of the evening pervades the cottage…no television or other distraction to detract from the clock on the wall ticking the time away.

www.bealtainecottage.com 002There’s a fine stretch in the day, with the light finally fading around a quarter to seven.

DSCF0671The untidy kitchen bears testament to a little shopping, yet to be sorted and packed away.

www.bealtainecottage.com 007Friends have been and gone, polytunnel doors shut tight against the wind and logs stacked by the stove ready to be consumed by the iron maiden.

DSCF0674A pack of wooden, clothes pegs, sits atop the kitchen table, to be unwrapped…Lord save me from plastic pegs that grow brittle in the weather and snap when least expected!

DSCF0675Dried chillies wait patiently for their resting place in the pantry, in a jar, yet to be found!

DSCF0673A book, donated by a friend, promises bedtime reading, maybe even into the wee hours of the morning…I’m enchanted by the cover!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture March primrosesCounting down the days until the Spring Equinox…

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture March 2011 020Happy Saint David’s Day to all of Welsh connection XXX

April Snow, Bees and Butterflies

April  Bealtaine Cottage pond gardenApril weather is always unpredictable.

Snow fell this morning…in between rain and brilliant sunshine!

It was like a convergence of all the seasons in one morning!

April permaculture rhubarb at Bealtainecottage 016This time last year we were swimming in the Atlantic Ocean down by Mullaghmore Pier.

Legs and arms, uncovered for the first time in months, looked a sickly white in shorts and T-shirts.

April 2011 permaculture cottage 022The apple blossom was fully out and the season was about a month ahead of what was expected.

This year, the season is late.

About 4-6 weeks in some parts of the garden!

April  Bealtaine Cottage PolytunnelHowever, the polytunnel is really paying for itself, as I have all the fruit and veg in pots, growing big and strong and ready for when the weather settles down and all danger of frost has passed!

April Bealtaine Cottage permaculture GardensI have been hauling more and more stone from the edges of the land, into specific areas, where the passive solar heat trapped in the stone will help growth in annual crops, creating micro-climates.

As the season is late, it allows more time for me to catch up with the bigger tasks here at Bealtaine Cottage.

Always looking for the silver lining!

Bealtaine Cottage Gardens  in April 2011 001The Bats are out from hibernation and yesterday, as I walked down the lane-way, a butterfly fluttered just ahead of me, for most of the walk.

The bees are flitting from one heavily laden Ribes bush to another…their end of hibernation feast!

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The EU are making it against the law to save and share seed…

This is not a petition asking the EU for anything, but one that sends a clear, sharp message…We Will Not Comply!

A shot across the bow!

Please sign and share…

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/We_Will_Not_Comply/?wCgoWbb

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