WHERE did February go? I think we can all be excused for thinking that spring has arrived early this year.

The birds are singing, frogspawn carpets the bogs, the bees are busy in the garden and last year’s foals are galloping round the fields.

But, we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. The weather could change on a sixpence and snow could carpet the ground yet, as it did this time last year.

I love this time of year. The cattle are comfortable in their daily routines, going in and out each day to the Forest.

The calves are becoming increasingly confident and dawdle each morning, leaving me with the lovely task of letting them in a little later in the morning. At the same time I fork in the silage, each bale is different, coming from different fields and farms.

Our cattle prefer the meadow grasses to the more modern rye grass bales, which they leave til last!

For commoners who work away from the Forest keeping cattle is extremely difficult and long term I worry for the future.

There are only a handful of young commoners keeping cattle, which provide vital conservation grazing for the Forest. The majority of cattle are owned by commoners who fall well beyond the young commoner bracket and I can think of less than a handful of cattle keeping commoners in their 20s.

I have so far managed to avoid the B word in this column.

But as the deadline for Brexit looms ever closer we as commoners are left wondering what the future holds.

We are hopeful that a more locally designed and locally sensitive scheme will be developed which has the best interests of the Forest at its heart.

Our New Year’s resolution was to only eat meat that was home produced or where the farmer was clearly identifiable.

When you visit a butcher in rural Wales the breed of cattle and the farmer’s names are proudly displayed on the blackboard. So far we have succeeded (barring one fundraising quiz night).

It isn’t easy. It requires cooking from scratch for every meal and being organised with pre-cooked meals in the freezer as well as cooking slightly larger joints so that there is always something for the lunch boxes.

Liver and bacon in onion gravy is the fastest emergency morning cook up I have managed!

The New Forest Education Toolkit that I have been working on over the past year or so is now available to download at realnewforest.org

I really enjoy working with local schools and youth groups.

Young people are so optimistic for the future.

We must ensure that the next generation of children know the Forest and understand what makes it special. One simple way to get children involved is to record frogspawn sightings on the Freshwater Habitats Trust Spawn Survey.

Enjoy the last few weeks of winter.