We've had a very busy Summer here at Croan during which we were delighted
to welcome back some old friends and meet many new ones. Overall,
we enjoyed three months of great weather with plenty of good sunshine
and are now enjoying quite an Indian summer this September as the
blackberries ripen and the leaves begin to change. In another month
or so, Castle Morres woods will be ablaze with Autumn colour and certainly
makes the transition to winter a little easier to bear! Our pigs always
look forward to the inclusion of fresh acorns in their diet. The calm
and clear Summer nights with their fantastic displays of stars are
continuing as Orion begins to move into our view.
|This Summer has seen great progress
on our building projects. Our new Boules court was the site
of some fierce competition throughout the Summer. Our potting
shed and barn are almost finished and we should be ready to
glaze the greenhouse in the next couple of weeks. We've been
surprised at the enormous wealth of garden heritage in the South
East and have been visiting some extraordinary gardens to gain
inspiration for our own walled garden. Our planting plans are
a little behind schedule but we hope to be sowing in earnest
this coming Spring and to be enjoying our first fruit and vegetable
crops early next Summer.
Our animal paddocks are now properly fenced and the hedgerows have
been tackled back into shape. This work has provided enough wood for
several Winters. All of the animals have moved to their new homes,
with the exception of the ducks and newly hatched ducklings. Having
dredged the pond, they are now living in temporary accommodation to
protect them from foxes while we wait for the pond to refill.
|May's piglets, born in June, have
grown to a healthy size and have become expert escapologists.
They're old enough now to be weaned and to move on to new homes.
May's regained her figure very quickly and seems to be looking
forward to some peace and quiet. June has been remarkably patient
with her new brothers and sister. Our two lambs, Dilly and Doris
are big enough now to be considered proper sheep and are weaned
from their daily bottle feeds. They're happily sharing a paddock
with Daisy and Bill the goats and they're all getting along
famously, though Daisy's very much the boss.
|Now that our animal population
has expanded, Winter-feed has become a priority. The continued
good weather allowed us to let wild flowers grow and set seed
in the meadows before cutting our hay, late, in August. Hay
making is always such a pleasant job and it was very rewarding
to see our bales stacked and waiting for storage. Before cutting
the meadow, we found a nest of young leverets and managed to
move them to safety before the mower did any damage. Their mother
came when we weren't around and moved them on again to a more
secret location but we are delighted that Hares, which are becoming
more rare in Ireland, are breeding at Croan.
We're delighted to announce the arrival of a new cow and her heifer
calf to our smallholding. Both are Limousin crosses. In preparation
for the arrival of our first large animals, we looked after our neighbour's
mare, Delphi, for the summer. She's a beautiful chestnut with a flaxen
mane and a very quiet mount. The Castle Morres woods are an ideal
place for trekking with her and we hope to have her back again soon.
|Rusty the new rooster and our
new chicks still like to tour the cottages in the morning waiting
|Pierre the peacock's attention
has recently been grabbed by the addition of Penelope the peahen
to the Croan fowl flock. Let's just say he has other things
on his mind.
|Poppy the puppy has now grown
so much that it can sometimes be difficult to tell she and Bella
apart. Alike as they are in looks, they couldn't be more different
in personality. Poppy is so much cheekier than mannerly Bella
and Bella has gradually been getting used to sharing us with
her new playmate.
The Summer has also been busy outside of Croan. The Tall Ships festival
in Waterford in July was amazing and deservedly attracted huge numbers
of visitors The quay on both sides of the river was full of the most
romantic ships and to see them move out to sea under full sail past
Hook Head was something special to behold. The Kilkenny Arts Festival
in August, as always, was an extravaganza of theatre, visual arts,
music and dance. The Inistioge Vintage Rally and Festival in late
July continues to go from strength to strength and the Piltown Agricultural
Show in September, the oldest in the country and attended by our Prime
Minister among other dignitaries, provided valuable inspiration for
our vegetable growing plans!
The local Aghaviller Historical Society has begun a research project
on the history of Castle Morres and Croan, as a surviving House from
the heyday of the estate, has formed an alternative focus for some
research. We're learning lots about the history of our house and gardens
and its relationship to 'the big house' at the end of the road. As
more information is gathered we will add it to the Croan House section
of the site.
|The new Croan Cottages Postcards.
There's always a supply in all of the cottages for our guests
to send to friends and family.
As this Summer season ends, we're beginning to look forward to next
year. We feel very privileged to have been invited to appear in the
'Country Living Guide to Rural Ireland' and due to the great success
of Croan Cuisine meals we'll be expanding our range. Our friends at
The Bridge Pottery are designing some new Croan Cottages gift items
in addition to the pottery already available as souvenirs and together
with our Croan Cottages T-shirts these will shortly be available to
buy online. The T-shirts will feature the same image as that designed
for our postcards by local artist, Cathy Dineen. Feel free to email
us if you'd like some!
Niamh, Francis, Bella and Poppy.