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You are here: Croan Cottage Blog » Newsletters » Blog article: Newsletter Summer 2006

Newsletter Summer 2006

This summer we've been spoiled with weeks of glorious
sunshine, hot temperatures and a general weather picture that we're
quite unused to here in Ireland. In fact, one of our 80 year old neighbours
can't remember a summer so good in her lifetime! Though the good weather
has been an absolute joy, the gardens are beginning to look a little
burnished and will be glad of a good drink.

It's been perfect weather for
making hay and the prolonged sunshine meant that we could comfortably
leave our paddocks long enough to allow the wild flowers to
set seed for next year before we began to cut, dry and bale
for food for our ever expanding numbers of animals for this
coming Winter.

Our first ever Croan calf was
born in early July, albeit two weeks overdue. She's a dark brown
Angus cross who's been named Ruby by the Morris girls who were
visiting here at the time of her birth. She's thriving on fresh
grass and has integrated very well with the rest of the 'herd'
– her mother Bo and sister Lola.

We also had our first try at sheep shearing as the
high temperatures made wearing heavy wool coats a little uncomfortable
for the sheep. Although, given the results of our inexperienced shearing,
I'm not sure whether the girls might have preferred to suffer by keeping
their coats on!

While the ewes lost their fleeces,
we gained three new additions to the flock, a black-faced Suffolk
ewe named Eunice and her two lambs.

They're living quite happily with
Doris and our goats, Daisy and Bill, though Daisy makes sure
that everyone knows she's the boss.

Early summer also saw the expansion of our
bird flocks. Our geese were sitting on two separate nests
which made protection a double headache for our already cranky
gander. From the first, mother goose hatched out two goslings
and from the second, her sister successfully hatched three.


We worried that one of our Muscovy
ducks had gone missing only for her to emerge four weeks later
with eight little ducklings in tow.

Our neighbours came across an abandoned nest
of pheasant eggs and asked us to help incubate and hatch them.
We hand reared the chicks until they were able to fend for
themselves and then released them to their natural habitat,
though now and again, they call by for a visit.


Our peahen, Penelope, made a nest
for herself in the garage and hatched out four Pea chicks, the
first we've ever seen here at Croan. While she's a diligent
mother, teaching her youngsters how to feed, climb and fly,
their Dad, Pierre, is as vain as ever and is more interested
in admiring himself than in looking after his offspring.

Bella has had a taste of success again in this
year's Dunamaggan Gymkhana, taking 2nd in the hotly contested "dog
you would most likely leave in charge of your home" category.
Poppy, unfortunately, didn't take home a rosette from the "dog
you would most like to bring home" section.

restoration work

The uncharacteristic weather has wreaked havoc with our gardening
plans for this summer. The wettest May on record meant that we had
to wait until the ground was dry enough to plant out. The subsequent
drought put paid to many more of our seedlings, so we'll concentrate
more on winter planting and hopefully be more successful with that.

Nonetheless our potatoes have done very well, particularly
the heritage varieties we sourced from Irish Seed Savers. Onions,
garlic and parsnips continue to thrive and our fruit bushes gave us
a very generous yield of berries. Our apple, pear and plum trees continue
to improve as they mature and we're hoping to make at least one gallon
of cider this Autumn with our crop.


Our restoration of the old kitchen garden continues
apace. The beds have been edged and the paths seeded, and the fruit
bushes and trees installed. The replacement North wall which completes
the enclosure of the garden has finally been finished. We think it
and its new arch look great. Once the new doors have been made and
fitted, the garden should be largely rabbit proof and therefore a
more conducive environment for growing leafy vegetables.

This view of the Garden from one of the cottages
shows the layout of the beds and the new greenhouse still under

Still so much to do!

But we did manage to get some produce from
the garden this year. You can see the chickens here, helping
us with the weeding.

Have a great Autumn,

Niamh, Francis, Bella and Poppy.

Croan Cottages,


Co. Kilkenny

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