It’s been a whole year since we arrived at Croan Cottages in beautiful County Kilkenny and what a year it’s been! The animals have settled in well to their new home and Bella has been getting to know the neighbouring dogs. She’s still trying to teach every one she meets how to play ‘stick.’
New Additions at Croan
Two new cockerels are enjoying the accommodation of the henhouse and are keeping the hens in check. We’re also just hatched our first Croan Chicks – 7 small feathery chicks that are growing at an unbelievable rate!
2004 was also a big year for us personally. We were married in July and Croan House and Croan Cottages proved to be the perfect wedding venue. It was both useful and fun to have our families and friends staying in our self catering cottages, not least because we decided to paint the house the week before the big day and we needed a lot of help to have the job finished in time. Croan House is no longer pink!
The gardens of Croan House have been receiving quite a bit of care and attention. We’ve planted masses of daffodil bulbs to ensure a spectacular display each Spring and are planning a miniature maze.
Although our young fruit trees are a few years away from mature harvests, they provided us with enough apples and pears for a few tasty deserts. Our plums and cherries were less successful but gave us a small taste of potential crops in future years. The abundant blackberries and elderberries in the hedgerows made up the shortfall and we’ve made enough jam and preserves to see us through to next year. Meanwhile, we’ve continued to source rare native species of orchard and soft fruits from our friends at Irish Seed Savers and are looking forward to bumper harvests in the Autumn seasons to come.
Even during the Winter, there’s plenty to do. Here at Croan, it’s one of our favourite times of the year. We’ve just finished gathering wood for our log pile to provide blazing fires for the cold months ahead. The changing colours of the trees in the Castle Morres forest have been a constant source of pleasure during the crisp afternoons. The annual pheasant shoots are underway, providing a welcome seasonal delicacy for the table. As Christmas approaches, we’re beginning to gather holly and ivy to make our festive decorations. All we need to do now is to mull some wine, sit back and wait for the carol singers to arrive!
Our hopes of extending our fruit and vegetable gardens received a boost when we were recently granted planning permission to replace the missing wall from the walled garden and to build a greenhouse and potting sheds. The animals will also be glad to learn that our application to build permanent Winter housing and a feed storage shed has also been approved. All going well, the work should begin this Spring.
A busy year has passed in which we’ve had the great pleasure of meeting and welcoming so many new friends to Croan Cottages. We’re looking forward to 2005 and the exciting changes it will bring: structural improvements, additional garden space, increased fruit and vegetable yields and, of course, new animals and birds. As we progress through the seasons, we’ll be sure to keep you updated via our website: www.CroanCottages.com Be sure to check it regularly for updates on our progress.
Niamh, Francis and Bella.