New Forest The older pigs are intent on the job but the younger ones are behaving more like a bunch of playful children, bumping and chasing each other all over the place

Four-legged vacuum cleaners are out. It’s been an excellent fruiting year. Hollies are heavily berried. Hawthorn hedges have a magenta sheen where the ripened fruits are increasingly hidden in colouring foliage. The strippings of cobnuts lie under many hazel bushes. Wild apples have produced an abundant crop, their fallers a magnet for foraging cows. The woodland floor is already white-speckled with the star-shaped shucks of the prickly cases of sweet chestnuts, occupied now by only the two outer nuts in the case, poor apologies for a fruit, their juicy swollen companions already stored away to be winter-life sustaining for squirrel – and jay.

Three ponies block the lane but on this grey day they are not in summer mood, motionless apart from a constant flick of the tail, enjoying the slightest breeze that keeps the flies at bay. Head down, side by side, rumps towards me, they are oblivious that they are blocking my way as they gorge on the acorns the wind has scattered across the tarmac. As I wait to get past them, more acorns bounce off the roof of the car. I sense that once the ponies have cleared the road in front, they will turn to feast on those already dropping behind.

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Source: Guardian Environment