WHAT a whirlwind of a month August has been.

The end of summer has been creeping up on us - the nights are drawing in, the leaves are starting to turn, the Rowan berries provide a feast for the birds and the mist each morning shrouds the heather, which has been wonderful this year. The heathland looks and smells incredible.

Riding across the Forest the scent of honey and the vibrant purples of the heather lifts the soul.

We have bought a few pigs in preparation for the forthcoming pannage season. It is lovely to have them on the holding continuing another special New Forest tradition.

The combines have been rolling on the farms surrounding the Forest and we have been to collect our winter supply of straw, which we use to bed the cattle down in the winter.

Farming is interlinked and it is nice to go over the cattle grids to collect the straw each year.

We do bale some bracken in October but we like to mix it with the straw.

Together with the dung from the cattle it makes a wonderful fertiliser for the fields and reduces our reliance on artificial fertilisers. In days gone by it was called ‘black gold’ as it was so valuable.

The drifting season has begun and commoners across the Forest are coming together to round up their ponies.

This is an important opportunity to check the ponies over at close quarters and bring in mares and foals in preparation for the sales at Beaulieu Road in the autumn.

We have had the most wonderful success this summer with a pony we sold as a foal at the sales. Cuffnells Royal Fern went to a wonderful home where she had great success in the show ring.

Two years ago we were offered the chance to have her back for the children to ride.

This summer our daughters Milly and Fern competed in the Pony Club National Championships for Endurance riding and together they won the 32km Junior Novice class and were part of the winning team, riding for New Forest Hunts Pony Club.

The New Forest has proved to be an amazing training ground and as we check our cattle and ponies we have covered a lot of miles this summer.

There were eight Forest Bred ponies competing at the championships, their experience as foals on the open forest and their determination and tenacity make them fantastic performance ponies.

Enjoy and treasure the last days of summer and please take care when out in the Forest.

Lyndsey Stride - Commoning Family

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