High Summer on the land

We usually write a post at the start of each month, summarizing what has happen on the land and sharing a few pictures. Our camera gave up the ghost sometime in June and since then we have been using a phone for taking photos. Unfortunately there have been a lot of hiccups with uploading them to any posts and we have had to try to work around this problem. That is the biggest reason we did not post much in the last couple of months. We have hopefully found a system that works now and will post on a more regular basis.

In July and August the land was very generous and the seeds we planted in spring grew and supplied us with a bountiful harvest. All our perennial plants have also been great and we had more berries than any other year. This year we have also spent a lot of time harvesting herbs and other plants for drying and using in mixes for teas. We wrote a post recently with a few of our favourite mixes and their benefits.  

Around our main circle we have admired and cherished all the colours, smells and sounds. As you probably all agree this year has been very different from most and the land has supported and nurtured us through these unchartered times and kept us from falling into despair. What can be more calming and reassuring than resting your senses in nature.

We never got the chance to finish writing this post earlier as uploading the photos kept on being a problem but now we have worked around it and wish to share these pictures of sunnier days with you. It was a glorious summer despite the strange circumstances.

Please feel free to share some photos from your special summer in the comments if you like.

Chakra blanket

If you are a regular reader of these ramblings you will know that we like to recycle and reuse as many things as possible and prevent waste. Last year, when younger members of the family moved away to study, we wrote about making off to college blankets in this post.

Since then I have decided to set off on my own college adventure for a four year BA Hons. in Fine Art at IT Sligo. I have dreamt of studying art and drawing for many years and it is lovely to finally get the chance. I will stay for a few days every week in a small student apartment and wanted to bring something along to remind me of home. So I came up with the chakra blanket. A creation completely made out of wool remnants from others projects and odd balls found in the charity shop.

I think there is great inspiration for projects like this to be found in Nature. The above image shows a progression from yellow to green to blue…

I started writing this post some weeks ago and by now I spend most of my time in my student flat. We don’t have a lot of on campus time but the WiFi at home is just not up to scratch for online classes. So the blanket is a lovely reminder of home as I work on the course material during the week. In these uncertain times I think it is important to stay hopeful and happy. The bright colours work as an antidote to any unhappy or uncertain feelings. The colours of the individual chakras reminds me that I need to look after and be mindful of the whole of me and also all those around me.

As Ireland has entered another six weeks of lockdown I am grateful for the social bubble policy that allows me to come back home for the weekends and spend the rest of my time in my student flat. I am so busy with my studies that there is little to no time to spend worrying. I hope you find yourself in a similar hopeful and restful place. Stay safe!

Herbal Love

We are fortunate to have an abundance of herbs, wildflowers and trees on the land. This year we decided to dry as many as possible and make up some herbal tea blends for winter. We are only starting to delve into the fascinating world of healing herbs and there is so much to learn.

We are very fond of the American band The National and decided to name our different tea blends after a few of their songs. To tell you the truth we are not sure we would have survived all the hundreds of hours of work on renovation and building our house if it was not for the silky smooth voice of the lead singer Matt Berninger keeping us company. Like dark chocolate, deep ruby wine and coffee he has kept us sane and safe. So this tribute makes a lot of sense.

Sleep well beast 😴

We dried all the different ingredients in our dehydrator. Here in the West of Ireland it is difficult to dry them any other way as our summers are always a bit unreliable. Our first blend is named after the song “Sleep well beast” and as the name suggests it brings you relaxation and good dream. It consists of lemonbalm, lavender, camomile and rose petals.

Wasp nest 🐝

The second blend is for regulating hormones, alleviating hot flushes and improving moods and would be beneficial for most women and in particular anyone going through the menopause. We named it after the song “Wasp nest”. It consists of fermented raspberry leaves, lady’s mantle, sage, fennel, red clover and honeysuckle flowers.

Cold girl fever 🤒

To chase away cold and flu and to alleviate any symptoms if you do get ill we made up a mixture named after the song “Cold girl fever”. It consists of meadow sweet flowers, lawn daisy, fennel, plantain, mint, sage, yarrow, honeysuckle flowers and raspberry leaves.

Racing like a pro 😎

Our next blend is named after the song “Racing like a pro” and as the name suggests it gets you rearing to go. For this blend we added one ingredient that we did not grow or forage ourselves. It is the South American plant Yerba Mate that has many health benefits and contains caffeine for a nice lift but it leaves you less jittery than coffee. To the mix we also added lemon verbena, rose pelargonium, calendula, mint flowers and leaves, sweet cicely, strawberry mint and fermented black currant leaves.

Yerba Mate

If you plan to make your own herbal tea mixes we suggest you do some research as some herbs might not be suitable for everyone. For instance if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or on medication, you will need to look into if certain herbs are off bounds.

We did make up one last blend that is brilliant for detoxing the body and is named after the song Bitters & Absolut. It consists of Birch leaves, dandelion leaves and nettle tops. With all the different herb teas it is important not to drink the same one every day for a long time. Take a break now and again and swap between the different mixes. Although it can be tempting to display your teas on a shelf in the kitchen, the best place for them is in a dark, dry and cool cupboard where the medicinal properties will be preserved.

June

 

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June saw a lot of wet and windy weather and there was a great risk of blight forming on any crops in the potato family. We decided to try out a natural all in one tonic and remedy.  You start by picking a bucket full of horsetail plant and let them steep for a week in water. We used a large flat stone to keep all of the horsetails submerged and ended up with a very smelly mixture. We strained out the horsetail and boiled the liquid for about ten minutes to prevent any spores from growing. Horsetail is an ancient and fascinating plant.

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Wild times in May.

May has seen an explosion of colour on the land and plants and wildlife woo equally for our attention. An inquisitive young Coal-tit found his way into the conservatory and had to be rescued. He spent a few moments relaxing outside the door and was a great target for the camera before he flew off on new adventures.

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The pledge of the Polar Bear teeth.

In the early nineteen nineties one of us was helping a friend clear out an attic in Utrecht, Holland and came across the stuffed head of a Polar Bear dating from about the eighteen twenties. The Bear’s head had probably spent over a hundred years hidden away in the dark and now it was crumbling to the touch and sadly ended up in a skip. We found it incredibly sad, that a majestic, splendid and very intelligent being was destined for this fate. We managed to rescue the two canine teeth from ending up in landfill and have kept them ever since.

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Artwork

A note to our regular readers; This post is rather off topic with what we usually write about so consider yourselves warned! Although there are quite a few images relating to gardening and plants so you might enjoy it anyway.

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Painting in acrylics of bumblebee on oregano plant.

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April

 

Like many of you we have moved through April at a slower pace than usual. There are so many treasures to marvel at in the natural world and we hope that at the end of the current situation more people will be able to connect with nature at a deeper level. It is time to stop abusing the planet and to understand that we are only a small part of the web of life.

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