The shortest days
December sees the final sale of the year of New Forest ponies at Beaulieu Road Pony Sale. Commoners will have been out across the Forest catching the last few mares and foals in preparation for the sale. Many ponies are not caught on the drifts and commoners will go out alone or in small groups to catch individual ponies.
In some years the acorn crop is heavy and commoners with the right of pannage are given an extension to continue turning their pigs out, this occasionally lasts until New Years Day. Commoners on the Crown lands, with a sow in pig, can also apply for a licence to continue turning her out so long as she returns home each night to sleep.
The first foals beging to arrive, progeny of the stallions selected and turned out last summer. One of the year's two "welfare tours" take place, with a range of national and local organisations setting out in buses from the Verderers Court to assess the condition of the herds around the Forest.
AT the Beaulieu Road saleyard the Spring sale is held.
Commoners and their animals scrub up for the New Forest Show, and the CDA gets busy branding house nameplates for sale at the Show. This is a particularly popular attraction, with many local people waiting until the Show to get new rustic nameplates for their homes, stables and other outbuildings.
When the sun shines we'll also be out taking hay from our back-up fields. This helps keep the land that we rent or own in good condition for winter grazing, and provides useful feed for the winter months when many animals are brought home from the open Forest. Keeping local fields in the traditional rotation of hay-making and seasonal grazing also provides important habitats, keeping these spaces for nature.