The last few weeks have gone in a whirl. The tractors are rolling, with silage making and even some hay making is in full swing. There is an old saying ‘the best hay is made in May, but I can’t remember the last time we made hay in May.

Without any rain and these very high temperatures the grass has already gone to seed and at times has been too dry to bale, just like our friends in Australia we are baling early in the morning or late in the evening so that the dew slightly moistens the grass!

Hopefully, we will get sufficient rain in the coming weeks, which may allow us to get a second crop later in the summer, if we don’t we may be short of winter feed. In preparation, we have already decided to sell some of our younger cattle, so that we are not overstocked this winter.

The call of the cuckoo has accompanied our every move these last few weeks, joined now by the nightjar which flies round the house in the late evening. A beautiful and mysterious ground nesting bird which brings the sound of Africa to the New Forest.

Like many of us our ground nesting birds have really enjoyed lockdown, able to nest in peace without fear of constant disturbance. The relaxation of lockdown took us all by surprise, but hopefully lessons can be learned from the experience. We live in such a beautiful and precious place but we are all guilty of taking it for granted.

The fires in Wareham are a poignant reminder of the vulnerability of our heaths and woodlands. Thankfully, we have excellent teams in the Forest who manage it well during the winter so that fire breaks are in place and the vegetation is of varying ages.

My father in law told us of the summer of 1976 when the Forest was tinder dry and the Forestry Commission staff were all on call in teams night and day to fight fires. When we were children there were fire beaters at the entrance to every inclosure.

We can only hope that as lockdown eases the temptation to go out in the Forest for a BBQ subsides.

The cows and calves have mostly gone out to their summer grazing now. We have a few heifers at home with the bull and the children continue to help with all the jobs on the farm. We have put less cattle out on the Forest this summer, choosing instead to keep them in the fields on the holding, or in our rented ground. Commoning, like all farming requires constant change and adaptation.

It is wonderful to see the foals being born on the Forest. We haven’t got a stallion in our local area this year, so this will be the last year for some time before we have foals here again. Next year, it will be someone else’s turn to enjoy the spectacle of foals gambling past the gate.

Take care and keep enjoying the Forest – keep a look out for the beautiful silver studded blue butterflies and wild gladioli in the coming weeks.