The middle hours of a hot June afternoon. Down in the meadow, light breezes ripple the shining heads of ripening grass. Buttercups sprinkle the lush, green undergrass with discs of brightest yellow.
Out of the hedge grows a young elder bush, its flower heads flat plates of small star -like blossom that scents the air with a tanged , heady sweetness. Tall hawthorns, with May`s cream blossoms turned to clusters of green berries, droop overhead and give shade from a scorching sun.
A corner of the meadow, where a thicket of tall, flowering nettles grows out of an old, well-rotted muck heap. A family of young rabbits uses this nettle patch as a place to run away from danger. Foxes and buzzards often pass this way.
This week, two small tortoiseshell butterflies have appeared in the meadow not far from the nettles. This nettle patch would be a perfect place for them to lay their eggs.
Among the grasses growing here are soft Purple Fescue, tall Cocksfoot and tougher Rye Grass .
Small white flowers of Lesser Stitchwort hide in the undergrowth beneath the grasses.
The Ginger One is watching. Always, always hungry ( and always "Weight Watching"!) , he is longing for me to move a few posts of the electric fence further into the meadow. Buttercups are not good for horses, but our ponies never seem to eat them. With careful movements of their lips and muzzles, they push the buttercup plants aside and find the grass they are looking for.
Three of the New Forest Boys, watching me taking photographs as they doze in the sunshine.
Someone has lost a feather. The meadow is always alive with birds. A family of young starlings hide themselves in the long grass and feed on insects. Goldfinches and Siskins cling to sturdy grass stalks and eat the seeds. Sometimes, a green woodpecker rises out startled from the thick grass as I walk through on pathways made by rabbits and foxes. Over my head are the swooping families of swallows, soaring up and then dipping down to catch an insect over the wide grass.
Red clover, and some white, grows amongst the grasses. Feather leaved Yarrow is almost ready to flower.
On a thistle, black aphids cluster to suck sweet juices from the plant while an ant climbs amongst them to find an aphid fit to squeeze and "milk".
Half asleep, his head resting on the fence, the Grey One droops his eyelids. He and the Lion Pony, our rescued orphans from the spring of 2007, are three years old this year. Soon it will be time for the wheelbarrow to bring their evening feed and tonight I shall bring cream and spray to help them keep away the summer flies.
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