THERE is only one word to describe this winter and that is ‘wet’. We are lucky that most of our home fields are sandy and well drained.

The mud is superficial and in June we will have forgotten the hardships of winter, but for now it is starting to wear a little thin.

The cattle don’t seem to mind, they are waiting at the gate each morning ready for their haylage and in the evening the calves are lining up at the gate to go out and play in the Forest.

We have been busy TB testing this week, all cattle which run the Forest are tested within a three month window to help protect the Forest from the risk of this terrible disease.

Thankfully we passed the test, it is always a nerve wracking few days. At this time of year we keep a close eye on the ponies on the Forest and were pleased to help a fellow commoner by catching her ponies for her, they followed for some hay in to the pound inside our gate.

We catch many ponies this way. Our area does not have an annual pony drift so we try to catch the wanted ponies when they draw close to the holding.

In days gone by many smallholdings around the Forest would have boasted a pound or a place to catch ponies or cattle, these would have been used by many commoners.

Sadly, as many properties with common rights have been sold away from commoners their pounds and lanes have also been lost and it becomes ever more difficult to catch the ponies.

There is sadly a collective loss of understanding about commoning activities and the importance of the lanes and the properties which border the Forest.

The New Forest HLS has restored many of the open Forest pounds over the past ten years but the smaller pounds on the holdings are of equal value to commoners. For a long time we have advocated that one of the best ways local people can support commoning is to buy commoning products such as meat. If customers demand local meat then it will help to sustain commoning as we enter a very turbulent few years.

In the past we sold our pannage pork to a London butcher who appreciated its provenance, however this year we took the bold step to sell it locally and were delighted by the enthusiasm of our friends, family and neighbours who have filled their freezers.

The New Forest Marque is a great starting point if you are looking to buy locally produced quality produce.

The Forest is looking beautiful, after such a long hot summer it is wonderful to see the bogs full to brimming, their warm rusty colour brightening the gloom.

The frogs have been busy too, there are clumps of frogspawn already in the bog close to home, a real joy for the children to spot on their walk to school.

Lyndsey Stride - Commoning Family