Monday, 29 October 2012

Forest Ponies on the Green

On a weekend walk under overcast skies, I found two nieces of our New Forest geldings , grazing out on a village green. Young Ginger looks so much like her Uncle Ginger back in the field. She belongs to a commoning neighbour and was the last foal for Ginger and Woody`s mother, who died several years ago.

Little Grey was with them. She came over to "chat".

She is expecting her first foal.

The yellow-green leaves of a garden hornbeam brought light to a dull day.

This cottage thatch has overgrown with wisteria.

Snowy is always somewhere around the village.....

....and her friend the black mare is never far away.

Back in the garden, I photographed autumn colours before the rain came and leaves began to drop.

The beautiful red, heart shaped leaves of the Rain Forest Pansy will be gone all too soon.

Today, Monday, the rain blew over the Forest on a soft south westerly wind. I have been thinking of everyone across the Atlantic tonight, especially Bloggers in the Eastern Seaboard States. Hoping that you all stay safe throughout the next stormy days and nights of Hurricane Sandy..

Thursday, 25 October 2012

A Walk on the Misty Heath

Yesterday, it was late afternoon before the sun peered out from behind low, grey clouds.
I left Whisper Dog at home and set off for a brisker walk around the heath. Some hawthorns and silver birches have shed their leaves now, their twigs and branches dark against the sky.

Into the misty distance, I looked across open Forest towards the Avon Valley and the west.

I scrambled downhill along a muddy path, through rust yellow bracken.

Bramble leaves were reddening beside a dew pond where ponies and cattle come to drink.

In the valley bottom, I found Fudge, the young grey mare who used to be a fudge coloured dun when she was a foal. She was grazing green shoots among dry brown grasses and heather plants.

Climbing the next hill, I watched the sun coming and going between clouds, as the moor grew darker and mistier.

On my way back, I walked through gorse and bracken, to the edge of the woods on the hill.

 Wood ivy stems had been left beside the path.

There were rich gold and russet beech trees bordering a field......... I passed into the dark holly tunnel down the lane that leads towards home.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

October Days and Good News

Here are some photos from the Forest and from our garden, taken on some of the rare fine days of October.

Above, there are still a few bright tormentil flowers in the undergrowth out on the heath.

Below, the chestnut tree in the lane has small, hardly-formed chestnuts in fewer shells. It is giving food just for birds and rodents this year.

The last of the bell heathers still in bloom.

This wilding crab apple tree is usually covered in fruit in early autumn. This year, there is barely a handful of little yellow apples and the leaves have already gone.

Even "Old Jenny`s" tree, which has the reddest and most plentiful fruit that makes wonderful jelly, is struggling. There are so few apples on it that I have abandoned plans to make crab apple jelly. The birds need this meagre harvest more than we do.

Lichen on a wilding tree.

In the greenhouse, we had better luck with the tomatoes this year. Blight has flattened our garden tomatoes in recent years, so we tried this blight resistant variety, Firkin (sp?), which has produced a reasonable crop of medium sized, tangy -sweet tomatoes.

Runner beans have been good too, so some of the last stragglers on the vines are being saved for seed to grow again next spring.

The courgettes have struggled, but we have had a few ( if the mice have not found them first).

Some of the last raspberries.

A few zinnias to cheer the garden at the end of a poor growing season.

Last, but by no means least, is the reason for my blog break over the past few weeks!
Our second granddaughter, K, was born twelve days ago, after false alarms and a fair bit of stress and worry. Thankfully she is thriving after her Caesarian birth and her lovely Mum, Dad and little sister are doing well.

Thank you everyone for your comments and good wishes!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Forest Ponies on a Fine October Morning

On Friday night we had heavy rain, but Saturday morning brought blue skies and sunshine. Enough to gently warm the soaking land. Up on the heath, our local herd of New Forest ponies, owned by Forest Commoners, were resting in the sun with their damp coats drying to a glossy shine.

The ponies look sleek and well after a summer when wet weather caused a good crop of grass to grow on the Forest. These mares did not have a foal this year, but a strawberry roan stallion visited in spring, so their swelling bellies may be a sign of foals to come next May. 

If this young mare is in foal, it will be her first. 

She dozed in the sunshine, just waking enough to pass the time of day as I came nearer.

Her muzzle shone like silver velvet.

Three mares, drying their backs and standing in the yellow-browns and greens of early autumn bracken.

The old black pony`s coat was  gleaming.

Nearby her best friend, Snowy the white grey, is surely in foal.

She has been losing the black pigment in her skin in recent years.

Always the grumpiest in the herd, we call this mare Baggage, because she is one! Often she bites, kicks and bullies the other mares into submission and will never tolerate the touch of a human hand.
It was good to see her calm and contented today, enjoying the rare hours of sunshine.

Such a change from so many cloudy, grey, wet days. 
There were mackerel clouds..........

.....and mares` tails.