The Storm

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The wind had engulfed the cottage for several days, starting its angry encirclement in the early hours of Sunday morning.

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The kettle kept a simmer on the stove for cups of tea to pass the evening in quiet repose.

permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage 011The storm raged for most of yesterday too and now, this morning, the rain falls softly on the trees, hardly making a sound on the roof of the veranda.

Last evening the candles burned as the electricity flicked on and off in little staggers.

permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage 009The stove in the sitting room was lit and I made up a bed on the sofa.

Myself, Jack and Missy kept company as the wind howled overhead.

permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage 020The weather has settled down this morning…just a drizzle of soft rain that keeps a persistence about it.

Work here continues in the tunnel, clearing the beds and digging in new compost for the winter plantings.

Kale, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Chard were planted this morning.

The Garlic will go in outdoors in the potager beds, before the soil cools down too much…it gives them a better start! permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage 014The harvesting continues as more and more produce is brought onto the shelter of the veranda.

I will slice and freeze some of the apples, sprinkling them with a little sugar and cinnamon first…this helps to keep them better.

permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage 019One would find it hard to believe that there was a storm at all, looking around the gardens here at Bealtaine Cottage…the benefit of planting over 900 trees; just heaps of shelter now!

permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage 018The apples are still on all the trees!

Just a few more days until the Equinox…

Here are the wonderful “Moving Hearts” with their classic, played live, “The Storm”

Enjoy!

Midsummer in an Irish Permaculture Garden

Fruit, flowers and vegetables are all in abundance in the permaculture smallholding of Bealtaine.

Roses are in over-production and some are well on their way to becoming the wonderful, vitamin-C packed hips of harvest for the Autumn.

 Missy continues to direct operations, while listening to the calls of the Pheasant on the hill behind the cottage.

Pumpkin plants are making their way up along bends of Willow, as Peas vie for their territory along the same climbing frames.

All is in full growth and bloom as the day turns into a weekend of stillness and calm after the high winds and heavy rains of previous days!

Today’s video link…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_x8EII9J_c

The Festival of Bealtaine

Aquilegia, now growing all over the permaculture gardens and driveway of Bealtaine Cottage, from its beginnings here 8 years ago, with a handful of seed, saved from a some flowers growing in a garden in North London.

The time is near…Mayday, known as Bealtaine here in Ireland. It is pronounced “Be Al Tan Ah”

Irish mythology marks the beginning of May as the  the start of the summer.

This was  heralded in  with the Fire Festival at Bealtaine.

Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition.

There was the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and celebrations were accompanied with rituals to protect the people from any harm by otherworldly spirits. Cattle would be driven through the dying embers of the great bonfires, to protect them from disease.

The Ancient Races who constructed  Newgrange in Ireland aligned their monuments to the major solar events.

These were the Winter Solstice, the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox.

The solar year was further divided to mark the half way points between the major solar events giving the cross quarter days of Imbolc,  Bealtaine,  Lughnasadh and Samhain.

Click on the link below for today’s video from Bealtaine Cottage

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiyT1TSbaU&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

Hens…Raising Happy Girls!

The Bealtaine Girls…a bit like the Bluebell Girls, except they don’t dance!

I love hens.

They are social creatures.

Bealtaine Permaculture

They are inquisitive by nature and become very tame when treated well.

I have kept hens for years, even when I lived in London, I kept hens in my garden in Muswell Hill.

So, hens are familiar to me and have taught me a lot about what makes them happy!

Hens love to scratch and peck…fresh straw is great for this as they peck all the seeds left on the stalks.

Food is easy…lots of greens.

You can pick a few weeds every day and give to the hens, fresh is best.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture hens

Lots of starchy food leftovers is good for them as it provides a balanced diet.

I supplement with rolled barley, which they love!

If the girls can roam freely then this is good for all.

Bealtaine Cottage

Mine get out for a good long roam-about when I’m working in the upper gardens.

This is because the handsome old fox lives on the hill above the cottage!

Say no more!

Hens love the berries of the Ribes, which stay on the bushes over the winter.

I have watched the girls jump up high to eat these from the bush on winter days.

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Here they are scoffing the remains of blackcurrants from wine-making.

Hens are great foragers and will happily troop off on a good old forage through the bushes and woodland, emerging hours later at some unexpected point!

The henhouse is very spacious, with two floors and a long perch…and, you’ve probably noticed, very light too.

This is because it has a perspex roof, so all the sunshine and moonlight can brighten the inside.

In this way, the hens continue to lay eggs all year round as the light induces this process.

I built this on site and positioned the roof on a slope towards the south to catch as much sun and warmth as possible.

Trees are planted around it for maximum shelter, especially from the wind.

It works!

The hens even laid eggs on Christmas day.

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Hens will lay for years and live for over 7 years and more.

Permaculture Cottage…Groups of Plants and Jack….

Jack has settled into Bealtaine very well and now runs around the cottage playing with anything he can steal…usually one of my socks, scarves or shoes…

Highly scented Buddleia, drooping under their own weight, hang down after the storms of recent days.

No butterflies as the weather has been so bad recently…hoping all that will change at the weekend when warmer days are promised!

Intense permaculture planting of Bamboo, Spirea, Horse Chestnut, Buddleia, Dogwood and Greengage, bullying and pushing weeds away from them…

More intense planting of Gunnera Manicata, Cherry and Ribes.

The permaculture gardens here at Bealtaine Cottage have lots of rain and like to pretend to be a rainforest!

Little Gatherings…

Hypericum, Sedge, Pine and Beech, with Michaelmas Daisies coming slowly into flower, rather too early I think!

The tall pink plumes of the Spirea and the long lasting flowers of the Lysimachia Punctata make a lovely show despite the rain and wind!

Monday Morning at a Permaculture Smallholding… Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland

Roses are out in bloom on the veranda this morning. The air is warm and dry and the drought continues…

Considering the state of the environment in the north west of Ireland this morning, the gripe of no well water is a small one for me here at Bealtaine, for as I write this there are wildfires raging in areas of Ireland, burning tracts of land and causing some devastation!

What has happened in this part of Ireland recently has contributed towards the perfect conditions that have led to these appalling fires taking hold…heat, drought, then intense wind from the east! It is very hard to extinguish a wildfire in these conditions!

The hens are happy…no loss on them at all in this weather. It helps that they have plenty of shade! Visitors to the gardens of Bealtaine yesterday remarked on the way the hens will sit still to allow being picked up…they are very tame!

The mighty Angelica continues its skyward ascent, soaring upwards, taller every day!