Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, bog gardens, Cottage, First day of Spring, Garden, Ireland, Permaculture, season, Uncategorized, Woodland, woods

Signs of Spring

Catnip Heart Toy made at Bealtaine Cottage

Life is stirring.

Light shines higher in the morning sky.

Thickening buds cast a haze over the land.

“But there were certain early days in Casterbridge- days of firmamental exhaustion which followed angry south-westerly tempests-when, if the sun shone, the air was like velvet.”
Thomas Hardy

The woodland that surrounds Bealtaine Cottage

Colours emerge and birds sing out a joyous, higher note.

Warm weather in January

We are officially in the season of Spring in the West of Ireland and the new energy is tangible, from rising in the morning to the growing lateness of dusk.

The temperature seems rather unstable, as you can see evidence of in the photograph above.

The morning began very cold and in the space of minutes, the temperature had climbed by 18 F., causing the mirror on the veranda to steam up!

I recorded this as most of the only real information about climate and weather appears to be anecdotal evidence from social media! Cottage interior at Bealtaine, 2016

My favourite aspect of Spring is the way the light changes.

If one simply sat in this cottage and never ventured outdoors it would be possible to map the seasons in light play.

I expect birds, animals and even insects are similarly informed.

Living in the glare of artificial light can be dulling to our senses!

“She walks in the loveliness she made,
Between the apple-blossom and the water–
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son, and every tree her daughter.”
Vita Sackville-West, The Land

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Elsewhere in the woodland gardens at Bealtaine, frogs have emerged from hibernation and busied themselves, as only frogs can in cold ponds!

Frogs in Bealtaine pond have the luxury of a shallow, sheltered, ancillary pond, hand dug by myself, just off the main one.

This water heats faster and earlier, ensuring maximum attention to the detail of frog mating and spawning…a sort of nursery pond!

Anyway, it works a treat and has done for the past eleven years.

As a consequence, the amphibian life force has healthily expanded!

“Woods were ringed with a colour so soft, so subtle that it could scarcely be said to be a colour at all. It was more the idea of a colour – as if the trees were dreaming green dreams or thinking green thoughts.”
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

 

Frogspawn at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland, 1st Feb 2016
Frogspawn at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland, 1st Feb 2016

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

Permaculture gardens at Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2016

Diversity of planting not only has created resilience, but bestowed all year round colour to Bealtaine Cottage…so appreciated as Spring emerges…for with this rising of the sap, comes a much defined colour change!

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Pussy Willow at Bealtaine Cottage. Ireland

Catkins have appeared on the Willow…and there’s many different varieties in the Woodland. Pond and even Orchard gardens. Essential food for the bees emerging from a hungry winter hibernation.

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Quince flowers, Bealtaine Cottage, Feb 2016

This Quince grows in the Bog Garden and has begun to flower!

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
Margaret Atwood

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Where would Spring be without the exquisite little Primroses?

Seen here in the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine, surrounded by Spurge!

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Spurge at bealtaine cottage in the Fairy Wood

The Fairy Wood awakens!

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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/

 

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…

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

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Brigid, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, homesteading, Uncategorized

Country Cottage Journal…Beginning the Year in the Garden

Propagator at Bealtaine Cottage

Now is the time to sort out seeds and get sowing underway. January passes very quickly…we’re already halfway through!

First of all, ensure all trays and pots used for sowing are scrupulously clean.

No need to use chemicals for this, as soapy water, clean rinsing water and air-drying will ensure a perfect result.

I have used this method for the past eleven years and it has never failed.

Always use a good compost if you cannot make your own.

The John Innes recipe is perfect, but can be difficult to get it all together…

2 parts sterilized loam
1 part moss peat alternative 
1 part sharp sand

The loam and peat is put through in 3/8 in (9mm) sieve.

To each 36 L  add:

1-2 oz (42gm) superphosphate
1/2 oz Potassium nitrate
4-6 oz (21gm) ground limestone

I prefer to purchase sowing compost, as one small sack is usually enough, keeping home-made compost for the potting on process.

Once seeds are sorted and new ones added to the stock, it’s time to get sowing.

Success is all as the season can be delayed!

At this time I also clean the tunnel plastic to ensure maximum light penetration.

Daylight is now increasing by over a minute a day!

A good tidy up of the garden begins around this time, especially in the west of Ireland as Spring is about a month earlier in the gardening calendar.

This is measured on charts from Wisley in the SE of England and is in line with the Cornwall temperatures, due to the effect of the Gulf Stream.

Once the first signs of Spring appear, it is as though a magic wand has been cast over the landscape, with each day being a new day of discovery.

Sometimes there happens a snowfall that appears to set everything back, but in the absence of a deep and lingering freeze, it is very temporary indeed!

Pruning fruit trees and trees in general can be done before the sap starts to rise.

However, and this is from my own experience, Birch trees are known to rise sap very early on in the year, so do not cut as this can lead to the tree bleeding to death!

I encountered this much to my own grief…

In short, just because it’s cold and wintry at present, be aware that Nature’s clock is ticking and, if like me, you garden alone, there’s simply not enough hours in the day! Happy gardening!

Please note there are seeds available from Bealtaine Cottage…here’s the link:

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

Many are perfect food providers for Bees…remember the Bees in your garden planning this year!

Posted in Gardens, Growing Food, Ireland, Permaculture, Sustainable Living

Thrive

April 2011 Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens

Seedlings are thriving in the tunnel.

Spring is in full bloom and life is thriving at Bealtaine Cottage.

April 2011 Ballyfermoyle 013

There is a certain joy in the air that is spiralling outwards and upwards capturing the energy of all life.

April 2011 Earth Day at bealtaine cottage permaculture gardens

Primulas and Lady’s Mantle show off their form and colour, jostling for attention as the sun rises higher and higher in the clear blue skies above this little cottage.

Bealtaine Cottage

I love archways like this in the gardens, for there is something deeply spiritual and connective about the shape of them, joining one side of a path to another…connecting, as we’re all connected!

April 2011 Bealtaine 005

Green, deep shades of green symbolising life at it’s most potent and powerful.

April 2011 Bealtaine 003

Healing colour that pulses energy through the eye and deep into the human mind creating calm and joy.

April  Bealtaine Cottage Polytunnel

As Mother Earth thrives, so do we.

Bealtaine Cottage Gardens  in April 2011 001

The connection is so very simple to make.

We need little education to understand this most elemental of connectors we share with her.

The Fairy Wood at Bealtaine Cottage

We need Nature to thrive.

April 2011 bealtaine 015

There is much to be said for the “Green Economy”, including the aspects of personal health and well-being we acquire through allowing Nature and ourselves to thrive.

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If you want to thrive, go to Mother Nature.

Pond in the Bog Garden at  Bealtaine Cottage

If you want children to thrive, place them in Nature.

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The sounds, sights, scents of Mother Earth are all around us.

April Bealtaine Cottage 2011 013

The eminent Archaeologist, Marija Gimbutas, describes the power of Nature so well… “Her power was in water and stone, in tomb and cave, in animals and birds, snakes and fish, hills, trees and flowers. hence the holistic and mythopoeic perception of the sacredness and mystery of all there is on Earth.”

It’s time to go to her and begin to thrive.

_______________________________________________________

Bealtaine Cottage website is free, with over 1,000 blogs and 4,500+ photographs.

However there is a new website for lovers of all things Bealtaine…

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Thanks for your loyal support, encouragement and good wishes.
Blessings XXX

Posted in cottage life, Good Life, Ireland, Permaculture, sustainability

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

A Misty Morning

bealtainecottage.com 003

The morning started misty, very still, with echoes of Autumn.

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Walking Jack around the gardens was quite meditative, as clarity was limited to about twenty metres or so…

 

Posted in Cats, Gardens, Permaculture, Spring, vegetable garden, Wild Flowers

Magical Days

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Gardens in Spring are one of Nature’s great delights.

Here at Bealtaine Cottage the back door remains open and the sun streams in.

My grandson, Dylan sips tea, whilst nearby, Charlie sleeps on the rocking chair.

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It is days like these that are idyllic to recall, as the days of Spring and Summer stretch out before us. 008

Sammy-Bear sits by the open door, enjoying the strong sunshine.

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Somewhere in the scheme of things, as the days lengthen and the early morning birdsong touches our souls, a deep sense of optimism pervades the humdrum of everyday life.

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Animals react to Spring with displays of joy.

The image of the Spring lamb are there for all to see, but look at the behaviour of other animals…

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And the Earth itself…I can smell the grass growing…it’s an earthy, green, living smell that intoxicates!

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As I walk among the Potager beds in the garden, I notice how the Purple Sprouting Broccoli is regenerating, almost as fast as I can pick the small sprouts.

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In the tunnel, Calendula flowers on last Summers plants…a welcome reminder of the flowers to come and oh, they smell so sweet!

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Buds on the Peach tree are beginning to thicken.

This was a broken tree I rescued from the waste of a big store.

It’s taken four years to nurture it into a strong tree and this year, maybe, just maybe, I shall have some fruit!

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The Kale has over-wintered well, keeping me supplied with plenty of this rich food through the dark months.

Now, as almost all the leaves have been harvested, it begins to sprout abundance all over again.

Time to feed and water well!

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This Celery was planted and stem harvested last Spring.

It has regenerated and will provide yet more nutrients for juicing!

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Spring flowers, beauty to behold…feeding the spirit as I work in the kitchen.

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Flowers on the Ribes bushes have opened.

These will be ready to feed early awakening bees.

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Wood, stacked in Wigwam shape to air dry before being cut and moved to the barn.

There is so much wood here at Bealtaine that I am never going to get around to coppicing more than about 25%!

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Taking the time to bend down and look closer to the Earth, sights like this remind one there is another world below our view, reacting to the energy of Spring.

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I hope you make time to go out into Nature and find repose with her, for these are days of Spring magic…Magical days indeed!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, celebrations, Christmas, december, family and friends, holiday, midwinter, Permaculture, season

Moving with Orion Towards Midwinter

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The signs are everywhere…

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Nights drawing in…

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 003

Unexpected sunshine on frosted mornings.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 055

The bare beauty of trees silhouetted against clear winter skies. 

Full Moon at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

As Orion strides across the evening sky, we draw closer to the Winter Solstice and the darkest, stillest, nights of the year.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 001

Winter Solstice celebrations begin on the 21st of December, a time of hope and joy for all, regardless of belief or religious observances.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 040

Magical Midwinter!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 015

Ancient tribes all over the world observed rituals around Solstice time.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 007

We too can  celebrate Winter Solstice, integrating it into our own traditional celebrations.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

A chance to step outdoors and observe the night sky.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture landscape

An opportunity to nurture and develop connections to family and friends.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

From this day, there are 22 days to go before the descent into the Midwinter Solstice.

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2011 006

Yes, the coldest days precede the Spring, so January rarely feels like the prelude to that beautiful season!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture landscape

But, here in the West of Ireland, with Imbolc on the first day of February, the signs are there for all to see, as new life emerges from the frozen earth.

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, Birds, Climate, Earth, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Permaculture, photography, Self-Sufficiency, Spring, Thoughts, Wild Flowers, Woodland

Warm,Naked Earth

DSCF1040The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.
~Julian Grenfell

…except, in Permaculture gardens, little is naked, most is covered, yet the earth beneath the green mantle warms just the same.

DSCF1042April has set Spring firmly in place, with early sunrise and birdsong to lift the dullest spirit!

DSCF0999The boys awaken to the sunshine…

DSCF1006Honesty comes into flower…

DSCF1005Ribes sets the bees buzzing…apparently the Bumble Bee is losing numbers here in Ireland, as well as the UK, but certainly not at Bealtaine Cottage…the place is abuzz!

DSCF1016Amelanchier is coming into flower…yet more of the succession planting for the bees!

DSCF1002The playhouse is being transformed into a hen house…an upstairs~downstairs hen house to suit the due pecking order!

DSCF1020I’ve been busy with the brush and wood preservative, making sure that this little house sees another 10 years!

DSCF1009Chard has over-wintered well in the tunnel and will keep producing right up until the newly sown Chard is ready to pick…so very easy to grow!

DSCF1019Photinia, Red Robin has opened its new leaves…a burst of red!

DSCF1013Perennial Poppy has weathered the frost well!

DSCF1032Quince is in flower against the barn.

DSCF1030These gigantic shells have been moved to hang on sticks driven into the earth, making a contrast to the emerging green!

DSCF1029Spring is bursting forth into a riot of greens, as the first Cuckoo of the year heralds its summery arrival…earlier than last year!

DSCF1027The Fairy Wood is a mass of lime green Spurge!

DSCF1046The Lavender-painted Barn takes on a new look, making a wonderful backdrop to Spring.

DSCF1057Newly painted benches are ready to withstand another year of crazy Irish weather!

DSCF1056Primroses emerge in places where birds have dropped seed!

DSCF1039And the warm earth, no longer naked, continues to push forth magic!

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

___________________________________________________________

Bealtaine Cottage website is free, with over 850 blogs and 3,500+ photographs.

However there is a new website for lovers of all things Bealtaine…

You can show your support for Bealtaine Cottage and good living by Joining the good life at:

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Posted in Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, Buddha, Cats, Climate, Garden, Ireland, Permaculture, Spring

The Light of Spring

www.bealtainecottage.com

Sammy-Bear lies concussed by the heat from the wood burning stove! It’s a tough life being a cat at Bealtaine Cottage!

www.bealtainecottage.comOver the past week there has been a struggle between Winter and Spring as temperatures have moved up and down the thermometer, with hard frost, heavy rain, warm nights and brilliant sun all in the mix!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe rising sun reflected in the mirror at the far end of the veranda.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe amazing light of early Spring…

www.bealtainecottage.comMoving closer to the mirror, the rising sun looks back at me over the head of the Buddha…quite otherworldly.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis was how the Romantic Poets viewed the world…through a mirror…I understand why!

www.bealtainecottage.comFurther down the gardens, the last seed-head of the Gunnera Manicata stands tall against the storms of winter, saluting the Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe ponds have remained in flood during this winter, the wettest on record since 1866 here in Ireland.

www.bealtainecottage.comCatkins stand out against a brilliant blue sky, providing some little food for any early Bees.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe shadows of Spring are long, casting patterns and shapes on an ever-changing tapestry.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe kitchen is illuminated by a different light…the light of Spring.

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Bealtaine Cottage has built up a Permaculture Seed Bank.

If you want to see a list of available seeds, this link will take you there…https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-from-bealtaine-cottage/

Seeds from Bealtaine Cottage in Ireland are posted all over the world!

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

There are over 600 blogs in the archives on this site.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, Country Living, Garden, Inspiration, Permaculture, Spring, Thoughts

Renewal

bealtaine cottage

The evening descended as I moved back and forth from the barn with baskets of wood for the stove.
I stopped to catch the evening light, aware of the taste of early Spring in the evening air.
www.bealtainecottage.comThe clear sky had given way to hues of blue as the hands of the clock moved towards six o’clock.
The day was closing as the Blackbird sang out its territorial song.
www.bealtainecottage.comThis is the first time using my new laptop.
 As I type, I listen to Laudate Dominum by Mozart…a most beautiful and evocative song, all on this little machine! 
www.bealtainecottage.com It will take me time to get used to the way it works…it’s very sensitive, but a joy to be able to sit in this warm, cosy spot and write.
Thanks to all who made this possible…thanks and blessings to you. XXX
www.bealtainecottage.comTomorrow I shall walk the gardens and photograph the changes that are appearing by the hour.
I popped some pips from an organic lemon in this pot last year and here they are earlier today!
www.bealtainecottage.com As I drove from Sligo today, I noticed new lambs in the fields near the sea…it’s much milder there and so the season starts from the coast and moves daily inwards. 
www.bealtainecottage.comThe speed at which Spring moves across the land is thrilling and the energy it carries with it is insightful, allowing us to see Mother Nature at her most magical.
For tonight, under an early Spring sky, the little lodge beckons, the wood stove warms the interior and the kettle boils atop for tea.
www.bealtainecottage.com
The coming days and weeks will be filled with preparation for the wondrous event that will renew the Earth in this small part of western Europe.
Posted in Abundance, Angels, Cats, Dogs, Edible Gardens, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Tea, Wine

Permaculture Harvest despite Chaos!

JackThe permaculture harvest continues, along with the increasing numbers of visitors to Bealtaine Cottage.

Garlic is harvested, dried and stored…just in time for re-planting the crop for next year, in just a few more weeks.

As the world teeters once more on the brink of chaos, in the forms of war and nuclear contamination from Fukushima, getting the harvest home and planning for next Spring is a way of keeping one’s sanity!

It’s also a way of nurturing optimism and hope for the future!

kilronan mountainTomatoes are everywhere in the gardens and tunnel.

I let them do their own thing and they have produced wildly!

All the tomatoes are late, but then the summer was dithering in and out of Spring this year!

Even the Perlagoniums in the photo above are in late flower after several months of sleepy time!

porchAs the summer fades into Autumn, the light changes inside and around the cottage in the most delightful ways.

Shadows prevail in unfamiliar places, making all look quite different.

workshopOnions, Blackcurrants, Peas and Broad beans are all stored for the year.

I am continuing to use the remainder of last year’s Blackcurrants!

More wine I think!

I was invited to give a talk to the Green Party recently and am invited to give another talk at an Arts festival in Connemara…along with a wine making demonstration, so will be finding use for excess Blackcurrant crops!

evening sun reflectionsShadow play on the door of the Lodge…isn’t this beautiful?

This is a good place to dry herbs when the stove is lit, as it gets very hot very fast!

wine, kitchenI noticed that there is a bumper crop of Blackberries on the hedgerows this Autumn.

I looked up some old recipes for using Blackberries, so will be collecting them and saving them in the freezer, ready to use in a plethora of delicious recipes!

Food for free and lots of it!

The new compost heap is being stacked up daily, so am already thinking about next planting season!

cup of tea!There is a slight chill in the air, heralding Autumn as it transits into cooler times.

It’s a good idea to wear cotton scarves around shoulders and neck and take them off indoors!

Along with all the food harvested, there is an abundance of seeds to bring in and herbs to dry and store.

This is also the time to begin collecting tree seeds to sow in pots…something I do every year!

missyAs I work, show visitors around, harvest and continue building my workshop, Missy snoozes, oblivious to it all!

Posted in Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Cats, Climate, Country Living, Dogs, Ecology, Garden, Herbs, Ireland, Permaculture, Smallholding, Trees, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Cats in the Sink and Frogs in the Pond!

Missy Cat in the sink at Bealtaine Cottage

Missy Cat is being stubborn and uncooperative.

Frogs are laying spawn in the pond.

The sun is shining and snow is promised.

All that’s missing is the Mad March Hare!

Bealtaine Cottage SeedsI’ve been having fun stamping my little cat stamp all over the seed envelopes.

Bealtaine Cottage stampAs you can see it is a specially made stamp that says “by Bealtaine Cottage.”

Bealtaine Cottage summer in the permaculture tunnelLots of you have asked for seed, so I’ve been busy sorting and labelling before posting all over the world!

Missy Cat at Bealtaine CottageI always dreamt that the magic of this little cottage in the west of Ireland would spread out, like a ripple of life and energy, to all four corners of the world…and it really is happening.

Many of the plants grown here over the years will be grown this year across Europe, America and Australia…it’s wonderful to think of.

This is today’s video all about the frogs in the pond in the Bog Garden…

Posted in Angels, Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, Cottage, Crafts, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Spirituality, Uncategorized

An Angel in the Snow

Angel in the snow at Bealtaine Cottage

The wind howled all night as it carried snow in from the Atlantic Ocean.

The moon drifted downwards as the sun rose.

Somewhere in-between I got up and lit the stove, walked the dogs and returned to settle into a hunker-down day in the cottage.

Che Mousy Bear at Bealtaine CottageAs I write, the dogs are in their baskets and the cats are lounging on the sofas.

Animals know when it’s cold and really appreciate being indoors!

Che-Mousy-Bear is purring loudly on the sofa nearby my desk.

Sam sits opposite.

Stereo purring!

The porch at bealtaine cottageThis kind of weather often makes an appearance after Spring has been called.

The Primroses and Daffodils don’t seem to mind.

Bealtaine Cottage PorchThey know it won’t last!

The snow is soft and fluffy with little ice and no frost.

veranda at Bealtaine Cottage The wind has settled down and the sun is shining.

Today I shall work in the tunnel, sowing herbs and pumpkins…it’s Spring, even if there is snow!

Indoors I am sorting seed and making Smudge Sticks  for sale in the Bealtaine Cottage Shop.

A big pot of vegetable soup is on the menu…just the thing on a snowy day!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BealtaineCottage

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Family, Folklore, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Spirituality, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Winter

Winter Solstice Gathering at Bealtaine Cottage

winter solstice 2012 at Bealtaine Cottage

Fires are lit and food prepared for this, the longest night of the year…the Gathering at Bealtaine Cottage.

Loved ones meet again to join the celebration from as far away as Canada, London, Belfast and Dublin.

Missy, the solstice catA night to gather around the fire and light the candles around the home.

Missy has found her warm spot and will not be moved…we celebrate around her!

The Solstice Feast at Bealtaine CottageAs preparations for the winter feast are under way, we join together in toasting the year and the time to come.

In Latin, solstice means sun set still. This is the still night, the silent night, the longest night of the year…

The turn of the wheelWinter Solstice is the great stillness before the turning, as the days grow longer.

yuletide tree decked with lights at Bealtaine CottageThe cottage is small, so the tree stands on the veranda outside the window.

This is the celebration of the silent night, a sacred time of rest before the awakening, and the slow build toward longer days.

solstice treeThe human race has observed the solstice for millennia.

This night is a continuation of that sacred tradition.

Inside the cottage Tomorrow we are past the dark and facing into the light.

The ascent to Spring will begin once more.

Happy Solstice Everyone!

Posted in Animals, Cats, Cottage, Country Living, Fairies, Inspiration, Permaculture, Spring, Trees, Uncategorized

Primroses and Badgers and Irish Country Living

Primroses are open on the lane to the cottage.

Birds sing and the morning is clear and very still.

As I was driving up the lane last night I came across a badger, just a young one, but looking beautiful and wise as only a badger can…they have this really ancient look about them…

Here are just a few of the 650+ trees planted here at Bealtaine over the past seven and a half years.

These Pine Trees are near the eastern edge of the smallholding and afford great shelter form the east winds that blow during the winter months.

When the sun shines at this time of year, the silvery light is magical!

I googled Bealtaine Cottage images last night and was met with an assorted array of photos from this blog…this is page one…

Hmm…Che is up a field maple tree in the front garden…

He regularly gets himself entangled in branches and begins calling for someone to come to his rescue!

Fairies, ancient stones and spring daffodils…

I rescued this fairy from a junk sale! I paid one euro for the priviledge!

I thought she looked particularly happy this morning!

Ribes, (flowering currant) are coming into bloom this morning at Bealtaine Cottage…and they are beautiful!

Posted in celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Culture, Folklore, History, Imbolc, Inspiration, Ireland, Poetry, Saint Bridget Cross, Spirituality, Spring, Uncategorized

On the Eve of Imbolc…

Imbolc is a time to celebrate the promise of Spring and to think about planting…

On the eve of Imbolc

Imbolc, or St Brigid’s Day  Lá Fhéile Bríde,  is an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring.

Imbolc is celebrated on the 1st day of February, the date that falls approximately halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Hens at Bealtaine Cottage Jan 2012

The holiday was, and for many still is, a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring.

Stove at bealtaine cottageCelebrations are focused around hearth fires, special foods, as in a family dinner or feast, candles, invoking a sense of the light to come…

“The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.” 

candle and spiral at bealtaine cottageFire and purification are an important aspect of this festival.

Brigid is the Gaelic goddess of poetry, healing and smith-craft. 

As both goddess and saint she is also associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing.

The lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.

Laurel arch at bealtaine cottage permaculture gardens

Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve.

Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless.

The head of the household will smother (or “smoor”) the fire and rake the ashes smooth.

In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning.

The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on Etsy

Traditionally, a cross made from pulled rushes is hung inside the home each Imbolc.

You can find these at the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop, at the right side of this page.

Posted in Animals, Garden, Permaculture, Poetry, Uncategorized

The Days dividing Light and Lover…

For Winter’s rains and ruins are over,

And all the seasons of snow and sins;

The days dividing lover and lover,

The light that loses, the night that wins;

And time remembered is grief forgotten,

And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)


Posted in Cottage, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Uncategorized

January at the Cottage

Re-cycling

The cottage is warm and cosy, thanks to heaps of old timber 

collected over the summer months.

Old wood flooring, pallets and posts have been stock-piled. Most

were sodden wet,

but have dried out well and give off super heat!

You may be wondering at the pic…yes, it snowed a little today and

this was snapped around 4pm.

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January Work

  • Plant trees
  • Clean out land drains
  • Prune fruit trees, mainly apple.
  • Prune bushes
  • lift and divide perennials
  • Wash tunnel inside and out   

Oh…and how could I forget…take Jack on longer walks!

Reflections

There are times when it can seem impossible to see the wood for the trees, as the old saying goes…and this time after the midwinter can appear confusing, as winter and the beginnings of Spring tend to merge and fade.

It remains a time of hibernation on cold days and Spring activity on sunny ones. My advice is simply to ‘go with the flow.’

Most of all, enjoy the days of this month and measure the gradual lengthening of each one.

Posted in Angels, Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Food, Gaia, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, PermaGoddess, Smallholding

A Life in the Country ~ In Love with the Green Earth…

I am in love with the green earth   ~Charles Lamb

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Living in the country is a never ending adventure in Nature…

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I love writing about this life in the west of Ireland…

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However, everyone who lives on this beautiful Earth has a deeply rooted connection with it’s spirit.

The spirit of Gaia!

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The day, water, sun, moon, night – I do not have to purchase
these things with money.
                                                                                            – Plautis

And this is true for all!

Bringing in the harvest, bit by bit and cooking it, bottling it, freezing it,  jamming and pickling it… And the thing is, there is a huge harvest in the hedgerows this year due to the brilliant Spring we had here in Ireland…so there’s food for all, just waiting…

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The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is
to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone
with the heavens, nature and God.

Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and
that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple
beauty of nature.  I firmly believe that nature brings solace
in all troubles. ~Anne Frank
                                 


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This is a good time to divide and plant up house-plants…they make fantastic Christmas/Yuletide gifts and are imbued with all the love you have given them! What better gift?


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Sunlight floods in…I love mornings like this!

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A certain simplicity of living is usually necessary to happiness.
                                                                                       – Henry D. Chapin

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The less clutter around the better life you find, especially in the simple things…at least that’s what I’ve found to be true!

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Find peace and joy and contentment in the Natural World! Go out walking…

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GROWING THE BEALTAINE PROJECT ONE UPLOAD AT A TIME…

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life membership is 12 euros per year and allows me a small income to continue to grow the Bealtaine Project both here in Ireland and in the hearts and minds of good people all over the world.

Please support…

 

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Eco-Living, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Ireland, Leitrim, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Blackthorn Blossom in Ireland ~ Permaculture Notes

Brilliant blue skies this afternoon at Bealtaine.

Visitors to the gardens today included Richard and Averil from Kemble in England.

Both are enthusiastic permaculturalists and are seeking to buy a smallholding in Ireland.

The permaculture pumpkin bed is now ready.

The pumpkins are under way, growing happily in pots in the warmth of the tunnel.

Flowers on the Jostaberry this afternoon promise a heavy fruit harvest.

Masses of delicate white blossom on the Blackthorn trees this evening, basking in the sunlight.

Sloes will follow.

 

Ribes in blossom today.

Posted in Beltane, Earth, Ecology, Fairies, Gaia, Garden, Ireland, Leitrim, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Woodland

Misty Morning, Hot Coffee…just Permaculture in Ireland

Just a walk around Bealtaine on a still, warm and misty morning…

And the soundtrack of Bealtaine…birds and bees and insects…

Scents of Spring and early summer pervade the air…

The promise of Sloes with Blackthorn Blossom…

Growing in the Fairy Dell…

And deep within the Fairy Dell the Rowan Tree comes to life…