Jane has kindly sent the next instalment of her "Diary", which we have
pasted in at the end of today's message.  She also asks the following
question:


Have you heard anything about the rumoured positive case at Shebbear about
ten days ago?  My farrier assures me that there was one, but it was hushed
up for the sake of the tourist industry etc etc which seems very plausible.
Could you bung something in the email and see if anything comes of it?


Our comment:  We haven't heard about this, but are making enquiries.  If
anyone does have any information, please let us know.

#                                            #
#


Is anyone surprised by Tony Blairs appointment of Lord Haskins as "rural
recovery co-ordinator"?  No-one should be.  Tony has never made any secret
of his enthusiasm for globalisation and biotechnology, so it is perfectly
natural that he should select a man who shares his "vision" of the future.

Heaven help us.

Lord Haskins will shamelessly use his position to promote GM crops and the
intensification of farming across the UK, despite the very clear message now
coming from all sectors of society that what people actually want is
localisation of food production and lower technology agriculture that is
known to be safe.

Why worry about what the people think, when you have another five years of
power ahead of you?

Our dictionary defines democracy as "government by the people.....equality
of rights and opportunities".  Oh, really?


#                                          #
#


From The Times:

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 08 2001

Vets condemn 'needless' slaughter

BY HELEN STUDD

VETS from Cumbria have written to the Government to express concern that
they are being asked to order the slaughter of animals that do not need to
be killed in order to contain the foot-and-mouth outbreak.
The group of 60 from the Lakeland Veterinary Association, which comprises
all but a handful of vets in the county, claimed that they are forbidden to
carry out blood tests where diagnosis of the disease is in doubt. Instead
the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) insists that
they order the slaughter of potentially healthy animals on the spot.

According to Ian Richards, chairman of the association, however, failure to
allow a "normal diagnosis" has led to thousands of animals being culled for
no reason. It has merely served to increase the farmers' mistrust of
veterinary officials and inflate the Government's compensation bill.

"We are having to order the slaughter of livestock because we are not being
allowed to use our clinical judgment. We are taking out farms that do not
need to be taken out," Mr Richards said. "The majority of our members have
worked in the area for years and know the diseases that are local to the
area, yet we still find we are excluded from policy decisions. We have put
our opinion on this issue to Defra on many occasions but each time we have
been ignored."

Defra asks vets going on to farms to make an immediate decision as to
whether the animals are infection-free. It does not allow them to come to
the conclusion that the decision is too close to call or that blood samples
should be taken to ensure that the animals are not merely suffering from a
disease with similar symptoms.

Mr Richards said it would make no difference to the containment of the
disease if the sheep were left for a few days while their blood was tested.
Such a policy might have saved several farms.

Cumbrian vets have been asked to assist in testing 84,000 sheep in the
Penrith area but they maintain that their skills have not been used as
productively as they should have been. On occasions vets have been excluded
from meetings to decide the veterinary policy in the county, despite holding
vital knowledge about the locality and livestock.

Suggestions they have made to ease the pressure and improve welfare on
farms, which are overstocked as a result of movement restrictions, and their
opposition to the Government's policy of reopening the Lake District to
walkers, have been similarly overlooked.

Defra maintains that its measures are needed in order to contain the
disease. Andrew Hayward, Defra's veterinary operational regional director,
said he was disappointed with the way the vets felt and their issues would
need addressing.

 ENDS


From The Independent:


Anne McElvoy: Down on the farm: a tale of cowardice, panic and dithering
'Having failed to sort things out itself, the Government has, as usual, gone
fleeing to big business for wisdom'
08 August 2001
One thing must surely be clear about foot-and-mouth disease by now. A
similar situation could never be handled this way again. The Government will
choose its time, rewrite the rule book and embrace a vaccination policy.
Public opinion would not countenance another mass cull. A weak attempt will
be made to rewrite the chaos of the past six months as a success. No one in
town or country, hill or dale, will believe it.

Had the Government been facing any more potent foe than the reedy and
inconsequential Opposition it has so far been privileged to enjoy, New
Labour could have been facing a ruthless electoral cull. Remember the days
when the more lip-smackingly pious Blairites were wont to remark that the
Tories "gave us BSE"?. That was unfair, of course. But it is the kind of
dagger hurled with some gut justification after such serial bungling.

One could equally say that this Government "gave us" foot-and-mouth disease,
in that it has misunderstood and mishandled the disease from the beginning
and seems dead set on continuing that course of action until the last
uninfected beast has been immolated on the last funeral pyre.

Everything has been wrong. Naove ministers were pushed into a slaughter
policy by representatives of the macro-farming industry who had most to gain
from setting the bells tolling for sheep and cattle. The legendarily
incompetent Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing fulfilled its historical
role in a British farming crisis, namely to prove utterly incapable of
sorting good arguments from bad.

No one inside Government had the faintest idea what the right or the wrong
thing to do might be. I realised quite how badly haywire things had gone
when three months into the cull, the Prime Minister was announced to have
"taken charge" of the crisis. What did that mean, then? "Well, he's been
learning a lot about sheep," said a Number 10 insider. "In fact, he'll
hardly talk about anything else. He's got diagrams and everything." It is a
sign of meltdown when the person at the top of a command structure gets into
such a tizzy that they begin to fancy that the situation can be resolved if
only they bend their phenomenal intellect to the source of the problem - in
this case, the irritating susceptibility of cloven-hoofed animals to
foot-and-mouth disease.

First-year veterinary science was never going to save Mr Blair's hide. He
was right to be sceptical about the advice he was being given. But his
instincts about how to get out of the mess were not so sharp. Let's be fair
to the Prime Minister. He's not a farmer or a vet or an agronomist. He
wasn't born with a prior knowledge about whether a cull or vaccination or a
bit of both for a certain amount of time were the right way to proceed. I
can't see any convincing reason why he should not have jumped the way he did
for the first six weeks or so. Thereafter, he was fooled by the Government's
Chief Scientist, David King, backed up by the Chief Veterinarian, Jim
Scudamore, into believing that the disease was "under control" in April.
Very shortly afterwards, it was clear that this had been wishful thinking.
If I were Mr Blair, I'd be putting two jobs vacancies up on the board,
sharpish. But he should have recalled the two most important questions for
any really significant political decision: what are the consequences of my
actions and what is the worst-case scenario if I am wrong? Instead, he was
blinded to these concerns by an attack of panic prompted by a media which
can be relied upon to turn every crisis into a catastrophe and every drama
into a tragedy.

The inherent fearfulness of the Blair Government caused Mr Blair to jitter
and delay. Terrified of a U-turn headline, he changed nothing about a
failing policy. Until the stories began to filter out of farmers receiving
millions in compensation for their slaughtered stock, there does not seem to
have been the slightest cost-benefit analysis applied to culling. Untold
sums have been spent - the final audit will surely deal a heavy blow to the
Government's reputation for good housekeeping - and still foot-and-mouth is
not destroyed Now I know that the farmers are the new, official national
hate figures, the spat-upon fat cats of the millennial years. But really: if
a man from the ministry pops by offering a generous rate for an animal that
may - or may not - be worth so much at market, we can't really blame them
for jumping at the chance to cash in their cattle. Blame the corrupter, not
the corrupted.

Having failed so comprehensively to sort things out itself, the Government
has, as usual, gone fleeing to big business looking for post hoc wisdom.
Lord Haskins, Mr Blair's favourite grocer, has been put in charge of rural
regeneration - as the Government so touchingly calls the battlefield its
bleak policy has left behind.

Lord Haskins, arch-duke of the vast Northern Foods empire, is no hero to the
organic lobby or the small farmers. On one point, though, he is absolutely
right. The handling of foot-and-mouth was made more difficult by the
obstinacy of the National Farmers' Union. What he doesn't add, being a loyal
friend of Mr Blair's, is that the Government was culpably suggestible and
cowardly and that is why the NFU's writ ran unchallenged by any other
authority.

How could Mr Blair, the self-proclaimed "what's-right-is-what-works"
managerialist, have got things so haplessly wrong? The answer, quite simply,
is timing. In the wake of the fuel crisis and in the run-up to the election,
the Prime Minister was running scared of any confrontation with a major
interest group claiming to represent the consumer against big government.
Never mind that the export-driven large farmers who dominate the NFU were
disproportionately in favour of a cull, whereas smaller farmers were not.
The NFU is the rural equivalent of the CBI. Both claim to represent the
interests of, respectively, farmers and business. Really, they represent big
farming and big business and their views and interests are often at odds
with those practising on a different scale or with different priorities.

For the first six weeks or so of the outbreak, Mr Blair could not be blamed
for following the consensus view that a cull was the best firebreak. By
Easter, when he called the Chief Vet, the Chief Scientist, Lord Haskins and
other representatives of the food industry to talks in Downing Street, he
was prepared to change course in favour of vaccination, but was dissuaded
from doing so by the intervention of the NFU's Ben Gill who said that the
public would never be persuaded to consume meat from vaccinated herds.

Faced with the threat of a propaganda war with the NFU, Mr Blair caved in.
So the disease has rolled on and the compensation claims roll in, both real
and fraudulent. The Government looks both incompetent and profligate. So to
add grim satire to the tale of woe, a fresh army of officials is sent forth
to work out the exact worth of every animal - before killing it. Death never
came so expensive. The carcasses mount, the countryside bleeds. And it isn't
even over yet.

ENDS

From the warmwell website:

Janet's bid to save the BRECON BEACON SHEEP

Farmers for Livestock Wales co-ordinator Janet Hughes, said her organisation
was desperate to call a halt to the slaughter of animals which pose no
threat to other livestock. Scientific evidence shows that healthy animals do
not become infected with foot-and-mouth virus from contact with animals that
have antibodies to the disease. "There have only been two cases ever of this
happening in the whole world. It is so rare as to be almost impossible. "It
is ridiculous that they are killing perfectly healthy animals because they
have antibodies to foot-and-mouth disease. "They are being persecuted just
because they have an immune system. "There has been so much talk and no
action to stop the cull. "I just had to do something - I couldn't sit and
watch them kill healthy animals any longer," she said. Janet Hughes, of
Churchstoke, has now instructed solicitors ... Professor Fred Brown has
agreed to give expert evidence in support of the action.

A note from Janet...
Hello everyone

Just to let you know that we have set up this appeal fund to raise funds for
High Court costs and solicitors costs. It has been formally set up as a
trust account with two signatories and will of course be audited.

Someone asked the other evening if it will be audited which made me quite
taken aback having already paid #2500 of my own savings towards the
solicitor and barrister costs thus far. One lady has provided #1000 because
she feels as I do; that all this must be brought to an end now, not in
months to come

The appeal fund account is with the Nationwide Building Society and
donations may be paid into any branch.


The account no is 0863 703 560 350.
Any help with publicising this or by giving anything you feel able to, will
be gratefully received. The injunction will cost about another #4,000, and
then if the case proceeds to Judicial Review there will be further costs of
around #25-30,000.The barrister believes that there is a good case and is
going to make sure that it is as watertight as possible.Thanks for any help

ENDS


From the Western Morning News:


Hidden agenda to rid land of small farmers

'Everything the Government has done seems designed to inflict maximum damage
on small livestock farmers'

To those of us who have been trying to follow the details of the foot and
mouth crisis since it began in February, there have always been two great
mysteries. The first is why the Government's response has been so
astonishingly incompetent. Everything it has done has seemed designed, not
to bring the disease rapidly to an end, but to kill as many animals as
possible and so inflict maximum damage on Britain's small livestock farmers.

The second mystery has been why the Government's propaganda machine has been
so consistent in its efforts to blacken the farmers and, wherever possible,
blame them as the real cause of the problem. In recent days, we have seen
the spin doctors again upping the ante, with off-the-record briefings about
farmers paying money to have their farms infected in order to get
compensation. Then followed leaks about the "37 farmers who have become
millionaires" on cheques from the ministry.

But this has only been the latest instalment in a black propaganda campaign
which goes back to March, when, repeatedly, it has been claimed farmers
themselves were somehow the villains of the story.

Most bizarre has been the Government's continued accusation that farmers
were spreading the disease by failure to observe strict hygiene precautions,
while evidence has poured in from every affected area that no one has been
more recklessly irresponsible about biosecurity than the Government's own
officials and employees.

And all this has taken place against the background of a strategy for
tackling the disease which has left every international authority on foot
and mouth totally baffled by its nonsensical impracticality. Experts have
been nonplussed by the Government's unprecedented "contiguous cull policy",
under which millions of animals have been killed.
They have also been amazed by the Government's refusal to use a full-scale
vaccination programme.

The more these two mysteries are puzzled over, the more they always seem to
come down in the end to one question: is the real explanation for the
Government's seemingly inexplicable conduct that it is working to a hidden
agenda? As the epidemic enters its seventh month, there is no longer any
doubt that - despite those much-vaunted compensation payments - tens of
thousands of small livestock producers have been so traumatised that they
will be getting out of farming for ever.

If the epidemic continues well into next year, as seems likely, the eventual
reduction in Britain's livestock population could be as high as one in five.
And is this, we have to ask, what the Government is really after? Is the
real, unspoken purpose of the way it has played this crisis to ensure a
massive reduction in the numbers of both animals, particularly sheep, and
the farming families who depend on them for their livelihood? Long before
foot and mouth appeared, it was clear that this Government was not only
unsympathetic to Britain's countryside, but actively hostile to much of what
it was thought to represent. The rural areas of Britain were the very
embodiment of those "forces of conservatism" which Mr Blair's Government was
to destroy.

It just happened this ideological prejudice dovetailed very neatly with what
had long been the scarcely veiled conviction of senior officials in the
former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF - now the
Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or DEFRA) that
British agriculture needed "radical restructuring", to make it more
"efficient" and "productive".
What they meant by this was that Britain's farming should be concentrated
into larger, more "efficient" units. And nothing stood in the way of this
more than those hundreds of thousands of small "inefficient" livestock
farmers of the kind who have been in the frontline of this disaster.

In this overall strategy for the future of British agriculture, MAFF has had
no closer ally than the National Farmers Union (NFU).
The NFU is often misunderstood as representing British farming as a whole.
In fact, it is an organisation wholly controlled by large farming interests,
from the "barley barons" of East Anglia to big intensive livestock
producers, who regard farms as factories. They have nothing whatever in
common with those impoverished hill farmers of Cumbria or Wales.

The tragic fact is that the foot and mouth epidemic has appeared to MAFF and
the NFU as what is known as a "beneficial crisis", an event which may look
in the short-term like a disaster, but which actually provides the catalyst
for achieving longer-term benefits.
It was particularly telling that the only moment when ministers briefly
flirted with the idea of vaccination, as the way of bringing the epidemic
quickly to an end, was back in March and April when Mr Blair began to panic
that the crisis might interfere with his General Election plans.

But this was scuppered by MAFF and the NFU.
There was never any intention in MAFF or the NFU that this crisis should be
solved in the way the genuine scientific experts were recommending - because
this would not satisfy that hidden agenda, that as many of Britain's small
livestock farmers should be driven out of business.

What they may not have reckoned with is the appalling environmental and
social cost which will follow the wiping out of the animals which keep those
areas looking picturesque for the tourists, or the wider costs to Britain's
economy already estimated to have reached #20 billion. But it is only
appropriate that the Government's contempt for the countryside should have
led it into a catastrophe for which, one day, it may have to pay a terrible
political price.

This article first appeared in yesterday's Daily Mail and is reproduced with
their permission.

 ENDS


from Alan & Rosie


JANE'S DIARY - PART 6

 9 July 01

Wet, wet, wet all day. Lovely for the garden, but frustrating for me because
I got very wet twice over, just doing the usual chores. Polly & Toto kept
sneaking off to lurk in the polytunnel instead of braving the weather like
proper farm dogs. Came inside at midday and thought I'd watch a bit of the
tennis instead. Three hours later I was still glued to it, heart pounding,
palms clammy with excitement and, most embarrassing of all, shouting
encouragement at the TV. Just as well I was alone. The Western Morning News
carried an interesting article today about how the EU will be discussing
vaccination as a tool to fight foot and mouth at its meeting in Holland in
the autumn. Yes, that's right. We've only been banging on about it since the
very beginning of time, and now, having slaughtered god knows how many
millions of animals, the powers that be are going to TALK about it. I
suppose I should be pleased about this; and I am really; but it just feels
very much as if having opened the stable door and chased the horse out with
a smack on it's rump, now someone has suggested shutting it in case it
should bang in the wind and make a nasty noise. Also, even more alarming,
were the comments from the Devon President of the NFU claiming that the
vaccination didn't work very well on cattle, and that he thought you couldn'
t vaccinate sheep at all! Where has this man BEEN? Even MAFF have managed to
provide the facts on vaccination in their weekly bulletin (even if they aren
't prepared to sanction its use). How can this man claim to represent
farmers when he is so totally and woefully IGNORANT? How can farmers be so
stupid as to listen to HIM now? The same paper has also picked up on the
fact that traditional buildings are being "cleansed" into non-existence, and
from the point of view of making it all look pretty to attract more
tourists, this is not such a good idea. On the same subject, a local farmer
who has had a few tips from me about limewashing (by phone!) is apparently
so delighted with his immaculately clean white barn, that he has every
intention of keeping dirty, smelly animals out of it for as long as
possible. Er, that wasn't quite the idea really.....

10 July 01

Had to go "out" today for a number of reasons, so added in several more to
make it worthwhile. Food shopping, bank, library (can't survive without it
any longer), bits for the computer, guinea-pig food, collect child benefit
(shocked to find new postmaster and shopkeeper - I knew nothing about the
change of owners!) and also to check up on the venue for a Cob Day on Sunday
which I'm helping with (the only course I'll be doing this year, blast it).
Didn't really enjoy it at all, and hardly saw anyone I knew. Three trips
down from the van with the wheelbarrow full of stuff - I am SO SICK of
lugging everything about like this - then all the washing and changing etc.
to divest myself of the grubby pestilent world outside. Rather amused to
find DEFRA had sent me a video about foot and mouth. Quite a good idea
really, if it had come four months ago, or if we had a video machine to play
it on. As it didn't, and we don't, it's a bit of a waste of time isn't it?
The FMD situation in Yorkshire is now bad enough to have got a small mention
on the Radio 4 lunchtime news. DEFRA are unable to "keep up" with the
disease so are slaughtering just about everything on four legs - over 20,000
animals today alone. All this in spite of the fact that the contiguous cull
has been proved to be brutal and pointless - why can these people never
learn anything? An appeal has gone out from Farmtalking to raise funds so
that Yorkshire farmers can fight against this culling legally. This is a
ludicrous situation - the very people who have lost so much (if not all) of
their incomes this year, are providing the funds to enable the threatened
farmers in Yorkshire to fight the illegal actions of the government. Not
only that, but the government stand to save the "compensation payments" on
every successful case that we help to fund! And they say there is "no
demand" for a public enquiry! God give me strength. The longer they leave
it, the more likely it is that such an enquiry will bring them down. And
then what? Will send off my cheque nonetheless, but it's difficult to decide
how much to send. Enough to be some use, but it can't be as much as I'd
like. Hugh came back from work in a deep depression: apparently the National
Trust has lost so much money because of the foot & mouth that it's bringing
forward all sort of re-organisational plans and cutting masses of jobs by
amalgamating the regions. So it looks as if he'll be out of a job shortly,
along with all those farmers and hoteliers in Devon. There's not a huge call
for architectural historians at the moment. Just beginning to wonder what
else can go wrong around here.....

11 July 01

Foot and Mouth was the lead item on the World at One on radio 4 today. A
farmer from North Yorkshire outlined the sort of hopeless inefficiency we in
Devon know only too well - lorries lost, foreign vets unable to find farms,
slaughter teams in place but no vets present, lorries arriving to collect
carcases, but no means of loading them, lorries actually using farm
entrances to turn in or driving through flocks of sheep etc etc. The DEFRA
official who spoke afterwards implied that this was all being made up, and
if anyone had a genuine complaint to make, they should take it to DEFRA
where it would be investigated................oh yes? It was telling that
the farmer admitted that when he had heard similar allegations from Cumbria
several weeks ago, he had thought they were exaggerating - but now he knew
it was all only too depressingly true. The hedge trimmer was out up the lane
today - so no more plant spotting on the way to the school bus. It seemed
too early, I'm sure there are still plenty of nests in use. On that subject,
the remaining baby swallow is still OK, in fact it has grown noticeably, and
is now losing the few fluffy feathers it had at the weekend. It cowers on it
's little ledge, but is often in a different position. Both parents are
doing their duty, so it's probably getting well fed. I'll be much happier
when it's flown though. Hugh came back from Castle Drogo with news that the
visitor numbers were so bad ( about half the numbers they would expect at
this time of year ) that they are closing the restaurant until it's worth
running it again. There has been one good spin-off from all this misfortune
though - the cancellation of the planned Easter Egg extravaganzas (sponsored
by Green & Blacks Choc) at various NT properties has meant that there is a
large number of delicious eggs looking for good homes as they will be out of
date by next year - well, one just has to do the decent thing sometimes!

12 July 01

As I'm getting my lime book reprinted I had to ring round all the suppliers
I've got listed in it to check their details. Their responses were
fascinating in their contrasts. Some were onto the subject of foot & mouth
almost before I'd asked how they were (Cumbria, Wales, Lincolnshire) whilst
some didn't really have any comment on it at all (Scotland, home counties
and London, of course). It just reminded me what a huge divide there is
between the north and west on one side, and the south and east on the other.
Far greater than the so-called "north/south divide". Claudia's riding
teacher rang up this evening to say we can resume her lessons - the last one
was in February! Claudia is of course delighted, especially as this is
probably the longest she's been off a pony since she was about four. Of
course we will have to be scrupulously careful, but it's a big step towards
life beginning to get back to normal. It's not the least bit normal up in
North Yorkshire where DEFRA are behaving in a depressingly familiar way.
Elliott Morley (I think he's the only minister to have survived the MAFF to
DEFRA change of clothes) has actually said that the contiguous cull isn't
effective, and they have already made concessions to rare breeds, so WHY WHY
WHY are they still doing it? DEFRA are threatening farmers with huge legal
bills if they resist, but money is coming in from the rest of us now, so at
least they have something to fight with. In an uncharitable moment I did
ponder a bit about why, when so many of us are giving our time and expertise
completely free - or even at our own expense - the legal system seems to be
as pricey as ever? That could be why barristers are often very rich and
smallholders are usually broke! I can see I'm turning into a bore and a
cynic over all this.

13 July 01

Spent the day phoning the lime suppliers in the SW region, which turned out
to be rather depressing as several had gone out of business or were just
about to. So often people who supply lime also carry out repairs to
traditional buildings; as these are often on farms a lot of this summer's
contracts have been cancelled. There hardly seems to be an aspect of life in
this area that has not been hammered in one way or another - the "knock-on"
effect is quite extraordinary. The knock-on effect on here has turned me
into a writer of cross letters. I find I'm much less tolerant about the
shortcomings of any type of bureaucracy now, and no longer care 'what people
think' in the way that I used to. Both the Western Morning News and The
Times have had the benefit of my spleen this week, and still waiting in the
firing line are the Radio Times, English Heritage, Sainsbury's, the Devon
Earth Building Association (for inefficiency), Marks and Spencer and the
Building Limes Forum - all for 'crimes against the individual' in one way or
another. What an old sourpuss I'm turning into! Or perhaps they are all
lucky to be given the benefit of my views? Either way it has to be better
than just not bothering, which implies we're all completely happy with their
poor standards. Claudia came back from a school trip today striped with
horrible bruises on legs, arms and shoulders after a tumble in some "play
apparatus". No doubt it had all the relevant safety regulations in place,
but she hasn't got hurt like that at home on this highly dangerous farm full
of collapsing buildings, trees with dead branches, a river and lime pits!
Perhaps I should add Exmouth World of Adventures to the ever-growing letter
list?

16 July 01

A small gap in the diary caused by a wretched migraine effectively putting
me out of action for a while. Mercifully it lifted for the "cob day" on
Sunday which was sunny and thoroughly enjoyable, particularly as we were so
well looked after at our venue. We trained the owners of the cob wall we
were working on, as well as our other course participants - and they fed and
watered us handsomely in exchange. However, by Sunday night I had two FMD
emails waiting - they were so depressing I couldn't bring myself to write
anything. To put it simply: the export of lamb from the UK is banned.
Normally we would export millions of what are called 'light' lambs
(extensively raised on the moors and hills) to Europe where they like that
sort of meat. Then we import millions of fat lambs from New Zealand (frozen)
because apparently that is what we like better. (Some doubt creeps into my
mind here but anyway...) This year, we can't export these 'light' lambs, but
of course we will continue to import the New Zealand stuff so, surprise,
surprise, there's too much lamb in the UK all of a sudden, the price drops
and we can't eat it all. There is also a corresponding shortage of lamb in
Europe. Now, call me simple-minded, but it strikes me that if we sent the NZ
lamb to Europe, and ate our home-grown lamb here then there wouldn't be a
problem, there wouldn't be a price drop, there wouldn't be a shortage in
Europe and NZ would still sell its lamb. But of course this would be far too
simple for our government wouldn't it? And their solution? We import from
NZ, we let down the European market, we slaughter AND DUMP our delicious
healthy, moorland-fed, free-range lambs and the taxpayer pays the farmers
for the privilege. Why?.... Apart from the staggering stupidity of this
idea, it's the WASTE that drives me to distraction. All that burying,
rendering or whatever they'll do - and it's wonderful food that people could
and should be eating. And they say we don't want a public
enquiry....................One last point for today. In the post I received
the usual (top quality, white A4 sized) DEFRA envelope, containing a single
sheet of paper detailing "New Animal Feed Controls". This is largely
irrelevant to me as I am already quite paranoid about what my animals eat,
and it certainly isn't any of the things this letter says I should stop
using after August 1st (items such as "dried plasma and other blood
products, poultry offal meal, feather meal, gelatine" YUK!!) But curiously
enough there are some exceptions to the ban, and if you read the whole list,
there near the end is "catering waste". CATERING WASTE!! I thought this
whole FMD thing was supposed to have started because a pig farmer in
Northumberland fed his pigs on the leftovers from a Chinese restaurant. Am I
the only person to find this more than a little surprising? Hugh commented
that it seemed that one DEFRA hand was completely ignorant of the other hand
's activities - and if you read to the end of the letter it all becomes
crystal clear :- this one comes from the BSE Division !

18 July 01

It sounds as if Tony Blair has set his mind against a public enquiry. What a
surprise. As a substantial part of the flak would be in his direction, he is
obviously saving his own skin. But this IS supposed to be a democracy, and
the people want a public enquiry. Does that mean nothing? Could it be that
the fact that the people who want the enquiry don't, on the whole, live in
Labour constituencies have anything to do with it. From the very beginning
of this epidemic, people living and working in the countryside have been
treated as if they and their lives count for nothing, and their views
treated with derision. The huge mistake that Tony Blair has made will be
only too visible when the next Countryside March is finally able to take
place. I didn't agree with them last time, and I still think hunting is
foul, but I know that the hunt does have its place in the scheme of things
(and have on one occasion been very grateful to the kennels for their speedy
despatch of a desperately ill sheep), and there are many activities which
may well be crueller taking place quite legally in the name of science or
food production, not to mention the results of our obscene manufacture of
weapons. I can't be the only person who has decided during the last four
hellish months that when the Countryside Alliance holds their next march - I
'll be on it.

19 July 01

There were TEN new cases of foot and mouth yesterday. The average number of
cases in a week is now RISING. (I have just got these facts from the DEFRA
website). This is not considered newsworthy (or is hushed up) and Tony Blair
has declared that there will be no public enquiry. Jeffrey Archer has just
been sent to jail after years of pulling the wool over people's eyes, lying
and 'perverting the course of justice'. Hmmmm. Went to a music concert held
in the garden at Claudia's school this evening (the only venue large enough
to fit in all the doting parents). Amazingly the sun managed to shine, the
children sang, played and danced with gusto, and I think the odd tear was
surreptitiously shed in an emotional audience. The talk afterwards was
exclusively foot & mouth although there hasn't been a case here for nearly a
month. Everyone was furious about the "different type of enquiry" we are
promised (i.e. a cover-up), many are in the limbo between having blood tests
taken but not having got the results and some were despairing about how they
would manage in the autumn and winter, even if the disease DIDN'T flare up
again. But we did all see eachother, which is a treat in itself these days.
School disco tomorrow, Sports Day on Monday then, by the end of the week,
HOLIDAYS at last. It may even be dry enough to cut the hay next week, though
the disinfecting logistics worry me a lot. But if we don't get it in I won't
be able to use my 'prize' tickets to Goodwood on August 5th, which would be
a huge shame. I think I need a "jolly".

20 July 01

The so-called "summer weather" due next week is now forecast to last for
just one day. Not much use for hay-making then. 2 or 3 new cases today, but
the bar graph showing "Weekly average number of cases" looks much the same
now as it did in mid May. Incidentally, this is a typically misleading title
for the graph which actually shows the average number of cases per DAY for
the week in question which is somewhat different isn't it? Where the bar
shoots up to ten this week, that shows the DAY when there were ten cases -
but anyone taking this information at face value could well be fooled into
thinking it meant ten for the week. The phone has rung all day today as the
Mole Valley Farmers newsletter has given my lime book a very useful review
(and my phone number). It's amazing who belongs to MVF - one order was from
Glastonbury Abbey - you'd think they'd know how to do lime repairs by now!
It's been very interesting to talk to members from Westbury to Wales, and
compare notes about the FMD situation. Have used rather more disinfectant
than I'd like today. I not only had to get to the post office to send off a
batch of books (which coincided with the school bus as this afternoon it was
sheeting down) but I also had to take Claudia to the school disco, and then
collect her two hours later. Each of these trips included the obligatory
spraying of the wheels and dipping of the feet (and coincidentally the
'soaking to the skin' as well). At least I didn't have to bath and change
between each trip as I did the sheep this morning, and they'll just have to
do without their evening check tonight. When Claudia was allowed back to the
stables last weekend we found that her feet had grown so much since February
(her last ride) that she couldn't get her riding boots on any more! So
tomorrow we're off to find some more, and have a sneaky fish and chip lunch
in South Molton before her lesson. This is one spend I don't begrudge her,
as the last pairs of both jodhpurs and boots were miraculously jumble sale
bargains at 20p each!

21 July 01

The sheep were particularly friendly early this morning - all crowding round
and many wanting necks scratching and chins tickling. I'm trying to sneak a
few sugar beet pellets out to Cuthbert who is still looking a bit thin, but
he has to scoff them pretty fast before some of the more elderly ladies boot
him out of the way! Spent almost the whole day 'out' today. Claudia and I
raced up to Mole Valley Farmers for some new riding boots before her lesson,
but got there more or less as they were closing so had to make a rushed
choice. The FMD-caused delay in her riding has also seen her feet increase
by TWO sizes. But as she has grown three inches in six months I suppose this
is only to be expected. She had a wet but exciting lesson, working almost
entirely in canter, doing sophisticated things with changed legs that are
quite beyond me. By the end of the hour the girls were sweatier than the
ponies and all crimson. We then whizzed across country to Dulverton to offer
some advice on an old house to someone who had been relying on coming on a
lime course this year to find out what to do! Most people seem to be
prepared to wait until next year to come, but if FMD is still around in the
winter then next season might be impossible as well. Cancelling this year's
has probably cost me a couple of thousand pounds - not a fortune to many,
but easily the difference between profit and loss for me.

22 July 01

Four new cases today. Foot and Mouth made the ITV national news tonight
because the RSPCA has warned that there is a high risk that moorland sheep
will infect cattle and cause an upsurge in F&M cases. It's 'good' that F&M
gets a bit of an airing on national TV, and it's good that the RSPCA are
throwing doubt on the general idea that F&M is all but over and we should
rush to the countryside and walk through fields and farms, BUT it's very
'bad' that the same old misunderstanding crops up again and again - blaming
the sheep for infecting everything when it's been well proven that there is
no evidence to suggest they are the 'culprits'. Sheep which have recovered
from FMD simply don't pass it on to cattle, or even other sheep - testing
positive for antibodies just shows they have shrugged it off; it certainly
doesn't mean they are infectious. Of course DEFRA have accused the RSPCA of
scaremongering - but anyone with half a wit already knows FMD is going to be
with us for a fair old time yet. I really wouldn't be surprised if next
winter is worse than last, as everyone is so much more blase about it, and
many animals will be going into winter in poor condition because they'll
have spent so long eating an inadequate diet and often in worn and
parasite-laden fields. We are hoping to cut our hay on Wednesday (a whole
range of new worries to keep me awake revolve around that too) and I'm
planning to keep back enough for the "worst possible scenario", and have
already arranged to trade some of it for straw in case I have to keep the
poor creatures in again. On the subject of inadequate diets, we have all
been blaming eachother for leaving the milk out as it has been going off
terrifically fast lately. Today we realised that the fridge had stopped
working - not as obvious as you might think as the light still comes on when
the door opens, it just isn't cold! As it is nearly 20 years old, it's
unlikely to be economical to get it mended (though I could still use it as
'back up' so will make enquiries). I rang round various electrical stores to
see if they had what I wanted in stock - 'Oh yes, they were open, they had
various larder fridges in stock, yes of course I could go and buy one today
even though it was Sunday, but NO, I couldn't take it home, plug it in and
have somewhere to keep the milk.' Why not?? I have a van, I have a man at
home to help me with it, I can come and get it now....... 'I'm sorry madam,
but that isn't possible but we will deliver it to you within two or three
days!' I explained that that was not possible; we were under FMD
restrictions, no-one was driving in or out of the farm. Silence. 'Maybe we
could deliver it to a neighbour?' No, that's a farm as well, and anyway it's
nearly a mile away, why can't I just come and pick it up in my own van? 'I'm
afraid it's just not......' I'm afraid I hung up before the words 'company
policy' came out. Thanks for your help, two large companies whose names
begin with C - I'll know where not to go next time. So tomorrow I'll go to
Mole Valley Farmers; they won't have much of a range, but at least they'll
let me have the damn thing when I want it. It will be fun getting a new
fridge out of the van, into the wheelbarrow and down the steep and bumpy
hill to the house singlehanded, won't it? The more contact I have with the
outside world, the more isolated I feel. I really wonder if it's me who's
unreasonable or them? There are just so many 'thems' these days.

23 July 01

When this diary developed in the first weeks of the foot and mouth crisis, I
really believed that the worst would be over by May, and that I would have a
few pages of entries to remind me how it was, once it was all over. That was
four months ago, but I'm still writing it. Now it seems to be not so much IF
the disease will come back in the winter, but WHEN will it reach us, when
will the next case appear in this area, when will we finally get it here
after all this time of staving it off? Six months ago I considered myself an
optimist, I really thought that a Labour government was a huge improvement
after the endless years of Thatcher's evil grip, I believed that I lived in
a democracy, that politicians were accountable, and that banner-waving,
marching and chanting in protest was something that braver people with less
responsibilities than I, did. So does that mean I am now what Eliott Morley
describes as a "crackpot" because I resent the way that my life, and the
lives of my friends have been changed out of all recognition, and I want a
PUBLIC enquiry to explain why this change has taken place? The questions I
want answers to are too numerous to list here, but I want them answered
because I really do believe that we can only learn from finding out the
truth, and unless that is unearthed then this sort of government
exploitation and abuse will happen over and over again. I am not interested
in compensation, but I am very interested to know why law-abiding citizens
have been abused, conned and blackmailed by our elected leaders, and why
news and information has been manipulated (and is still being manipulated)
in a manner worthy of the most corrupt dictatorships of the world? The
government wants to know why it's costing so much to disinfect farms after
they've swept in and destroyed not only the healthy animals but often
generations of care and breeding - surely they know that hush-money is very
expensive?

24 July 01

Back to the nuts and bolts today. As we are hoping to cut the hay tomorrow I
drove the van down into the yard yesterday, after attending school sports
day, to get it out of the lane which it has been blocking for several
months. It also gave me the opportunity to give it a thorough pressure wash
and clean-up. The idea is that it will stay "in" now until all the comings
and goings associated with the hay are complete. That's fine, as we can walk
to and from the school bus, and term ends tomorrow anyway. All very
organised. BUT this evening Hugh rang on his way home because his car was
behaving very badly and overheating, and he wasn't sure when (if) he'd get
back. He didn't. It conked completely in Kennerleigh, about seven miles
away. So I had to get the CLEAN van out to go and rescue him, and of course
it had to be the day that our neighbour had decided to move not only
bullocks, but also sheep and umpteen loads of dung along our lane - so of
course the van is now dirtier than ever (but I still had to bring it back
"in" tonight), Hugh's car is stuck in some kind people's garden in
Kennerleigh, he can't get to work, the garage can't deliver him another car
because we don't want them driving in, I've got to stay here
tomorrow........................I dimly remember a time when life just wasn'
t this complicated, when we could come and go when we liked and the main
problem was the cost of petrol and the potholes in the lane. Those were the
days, eh?

25 July 01

Hay cut today, hooray! Our contractor very scrupulous over bio-security -
and for the first time I've met someone else who moves the vehicle forwards
to be able to disinfect the bit against the road. He had only been to a
holding with horses and one which has not had animals on it for three years
before us, so I couldn't hope for more. Tomorrow when he turns it he'll
leave that tractor "in" as long as I give him a lift to his other one. Hugh
had a day at home as his car has been towed back to the garage from
Kennerleigh and is in a seriously defunct state. He's been trying to arrange
a hire-car for the duration, but tomorrow he will be dependant on Shank's
Pony and lifts from friends. Now he knows what it was like for me for all
those months!! Last day of term for Claudia so a long hot walk down from the
triangle loaded with carrier bags of work, art and projects, as well as two
dogs. The holidays will be a bit strange this summer, with a lot of time
spent here with me. Poor child.

26 July 01

Out of 4,000 sheep bloodtested on the Brecon Beacons, just 112 showed signs
of anti-bodies. Does this bring a sigh of relief as these sheep that have
shrugged off the disease are unlikely to infect others? No, despite their
tiny risk of passing on the infection, the government has decided to
SLAUGHTER ALL 4,000 OF THEM. This decision has nothing to do with
controlling infection, but a great deal to do with the political
manoeuvrings of the EU. Is it really just a rumour that a local farmers
compensation cheque came from the "EU Livestock Reduction Fund"? However, it
will certainly be easier for DEFRA to force the already desperate farmers in
the Brecon area to accept this ludicrous and monstrous act if (as I
understand) they are going to pay them #120 per ewe. (Probably 3 times their
value?) It was lucky I was up by our gate today when the tractor was trying
to come in to turn the hay, as I was just in time to close it in the face of
two very fierce-looking and large rams who were trotting determinedly down
the lane in our direction! You'd think that people would have got the hang
of trying to stop their animals wandering all over other people's land at a
time like this wouldn't you? My first cautious attempts to turn them caused
barely a falter in their strides, but then I was suddenly struck by just how
much I did NOT want them in here and from somewhere within me an enormous
and furious roar emerged and they turned tail and legged it. Managed to shut
them into a field. Just hope it was the right one. Very hot this afternoon,
so the hay should be drying well; with luck we can bale on Saturday.
Alarmingly the forecast threatened the odd "sharp shower" over the
Westcountry which we can well do without.

27July 01

Very hot indeed. Despite this I heroically spent the day baking so that the
poor sweating bale-shifters (ie Hugh, me and our contractor unless we can
get any other helpers) can load in the calories nice and quickly tomorrow.
Despite the protests of the farmers (apparently aired on R4 this morning)
the cull of 4,000 healthy sheep in Brecon has started. If vaccination is
being kept as an option (which is what the government says) just how bad
does it have to get for it to be used? When there is just the one sheep left
alive in Britain is it? The whole thing makes me so angry I actually feel
sick. The information about the "EU Livestock Reduction Fund" paying out the
compensation money is true apparently, and written up in the Farmer's
Guardian, but has been kept quiet because the cheques go straight to the
bank, and don't pass through the farmer's hands. How much more proof do
people need to show these massive culls have nothing to do with the disease,
but are entirely part of a Europe-led reorganisation of farming, by force.
It isn't remotely plausible for any other reason. Vaccination costs 50p per
animal - the estimated cost so far of the slaughter policy works out at
around #1 million per farm. That's #1,000,000 for every farm that has fallen
under this ludicrous regime. And we're paying.

28 July 01

Even hotter today. I took Claudia for her riding lesson between 2.00 and
3.00: the watching mothers wilted at the ringside, handing over drinks at
regular intervals to the crimson-coloured children. The horseflies were a
menace, but luckily I had a tube of stuff which did lessen the effect very
fast. By the end of the hour the kids looked as if they'd been swimming they
were so drenched! One girl was on her first visit back since the start of
the foot & mouth, from a farm where they have been scrupulous about
bio-security. Rowing up the hay and baling started here at about 3.00 this
afternoon. Although our crop is small this year (only 500 odd bales: we've
once made over 1,000 on the same ground) the quality is very good. There
just isn't enough to give everyone what they want, so we've had to eke it
out to try and keep everyone happy. We won't be able to keep as much as we'd
like; though if the sheep stay out this winter we will have more than we
need. It's just very hard to calculate for the unknown. Despite the small
crop, progress seemed very slow, and so the bales are still out in the
fields awaiting the return of the tractor and trailer tomorrow. I came in
too late to return a call from a neighbour who is trying to find out if the
infected zone has been lifted from this area yet. It seems utterly crazy
that he (who counts his sheep in thousands) should be asking me (with16) for
information. He can't get sense out of DEFRA and was hoping I might be able
to extract the information from a website (which he can't do). I've tracked
down a few bits, and the infected area has certainly shrunk (my brave
friends at Bridgerule are now out of it - hooray!!) but here I think we are
still inside the 'danger area' although there hasn't been a new case for six
weeks in Devon. Our contractor tells us that in some places disinfecting is
as scrupulous as here, and in some places there is none at all. Certainly
everyone immediately around us is driving and walking in and out of their
fields with no sign of sprayers or footbaths, although they may still be
making a token (and utterly futile) gesture towards it at the farm gate.

29 July 01

Another sweltering day. Hay finally stowed safely in both the barn and the
linhay - ponies will be fed from one, sheep (if necessary) from the other. A
few more days of this temperature should kill off anything that may possibly
have got into the fields with all the comings and goings over the last forty
eight hours. Having the gates open after all this time in isolation here
feels a bit like suddenly finding myself naked in Sainsbury's. Will be very
relieved to shut everything up again at last. Got the sheep penned early
this morning to check them over. The frequently lame Jacob ewe Spotty has
been mincing about lately, but seemed to have little wrong with her feet
apart from one slightly swollen ankle. Nigel has a horrible sore spot on his
chest which needed cleaning and spraying. I tried to truss him into a sort
of "front-end nappy" to keep the flies off it, but by this evening he'd
managed to rip it off. Luckily he's so tame I can give him regular squirts
of fly repellant, but he does get it so dirty. Apart from that they all
seemed OK; a few feet to trim but nothing much. Tonight I'm desperate to go
and have a bath and get the hay out of my underwear, so will sign off early.

30 July 01

Woke to a fine drizzle and must admit to a moment of smugness thinking about
our safely-stowed hay crop. The news today from Brecon and Yorkshire is so
depressing. Thousands and thousands more healthy animals slaughtered for
various reasons - few seem to have anything to do with the disease itself,
but politics, money, exports etc etc. The whole thing is sick to the core.
Of course the news is full of stories about farmers deliberately infecting
their animals - I'm quite sure some have done this, but I'm equally sure
that it has been out of utter desperation over the impossible corner the
government has backed them into. Given a choice between watching my animals
starve to death next winter along with my own certain bankruptcy, or having
them slaughtered humanely now and ending up with money in my pocket to keep
my family afloat, I'm not at all sure that I would find that a
straightforward decision to make; and nor would most people if they really
thought about it. Of course the news does not present it like that - instead
we are beginning the gradual process of being brainwashed into deciding that
old Farmer Giles isn't quite as nice as we'd thought, and maybe, just maybe,
we'd be better off without him in the countryside after all. Trees are so
much less trouble................

31 July 01

Eight outbreaks in the north and Wales today, more "positive" tests in the
Brecon Beacons so more and more slaughtering. This has to be the longest
"tail" in history - at this rate it will turn back and strangle us all. Much
of Devon has had restrictions lifted, including the original hot spot of
Highampton. Also Morchard Bishop and Tiverton, but not here alas. On the
road from Black Dog to Crediton the footpaths on the east side are open, but
the on the west are still closed. As the infected farm near Witheridge has
been stopped from completing its clean-up operations (just half a day from
the end!) we will presumably be caught up in the infected area for weeks to
come. More rain this morning which was welcome, but delayed our collecting
the post until late morning. Claudia and the dogs walked up to get it for me
whilst I struggled to complete a VAT return. My three biggest expenses from
April to June were stamps, the phone and disinfectant - all well ahead of
animal feed or petrol (which I've hardly spent anything on). Have made new
"Foot and Mouth - Keep Out" signs which have now gone up at the end of the
lane, and also at any of the access points through which we sometimes get
"lost" walkers from the campsite next door. They are day-glo yellow and
laminated - I don't want anyone thinking I don't actually mean it any more,
just because some people aren't bothering. Rang Goodwood today as my "prize"
outing there is scheduled for Saturday. As the hay is safely in I will be
able to go, and take Claudia, despite the fact that none of our clothes seem
to come up to the required standards. We will have to improvise. I'm unsure
if I am looking forward to it or not, but it seems pathetic not to give it a
whirl, so why not?

1 August 01

Amazingly, DEFRA have lifted all restrictions in Devon and we are officially
no longer in an infected area, after (I think) 163 days. This is of course
good news, but here the precautions will stay in place for a fair old bit
longer because I don't think it's anything like over yet, especially as a
lot of infected material is due to be brought from Wales and the North into
Devon for disposal - what a ridiculously stupid idea! What I don't
understand is how this lifting of restrictions can have happened all of a
sudden when there are many farms that have been stopped from completing
their clean-up operations before they have finished? Does it suddenly just
not matter? Are they just going to come back to Devon and slaughter
everything anyway, so what we do makes no odds? It makes no sense at all.

2 August 01

Today I received a reply to my letter to Tony Blair (sent on 27th April).
Having taken more that three months to answer my plea for vaccination, I
think that it could have been more than a stock letter with my name scrawled
on the top in biro. (At least Eliott Morley managed more than that when he
replied with a proper letter at height of the crisis, after I sent him the
first installment of this diary). Today's letter churns out the same old
stuff about "stamping out", "prompt slaughter" and bio-security; and all the
old arguments about needing to be "FMD free, without vaccination" to
maintain exports etc. It could have been written five months ago. It
probably was!! Interestingly, it came on the same day that The Times carried
the front-page headline "Farm Ministry ready to order Vaccination". Right,
so which is it then?? Tomorrow Claudia and I set off "upcountry" en route to
Glorious Goodwood on Saturday - for our prize luncheon and flutter courtesy
of Country Life magazine. We watched a bit of it on the TV this afternoon to
try and see what people were wearing - but they were all under umbrellas or
in macs, so we're none the wiser. Will just have to brazen it out any old
how and hope for the best..........

5 August 01

It's very nice to be home again. It was a long drive up to Sussex on Friday
afternoon, with a lot of traffic about. Claudia and I amused ourselves by
spotting ragwort, and can report that there was much more of it the further
east we travelled - around Southampton it seemed to be filling whole fields
like some menacing crop. Absolutely no signs of disinfectant mats or baths
at all once we were out of Devon, although there was a mat at the pedestrian
entrance to the racecourse ( but few people used it). It was a very peculiar
day at Goodwood, with an awful lot of hanging about, unable to do much
(though we could have drunk ourselves incapable, I suppose). The lunch was
nice (I had lobster) but there was no sign of the promised champagne (I was
driving anyway, so didn't complain). Our complementary #50 bet had to be
used all in one go which was a bit traumatic, especially when our choice
came in last but one! However, we splashed out #5 (of our own money) on
another horse, and it came first at 7 to 1. It was very cold and windy, and
also started to pour with rain at one point, so we dashed back to our
'pavilion' for a cup of tea, which was stone cold and must have been stewing
for about two hours. Had we actually paid for our tickets (about #150 each)
I would have been fairly peeved by this, but after 5 hours there we'd lost
the will to live, and just left. We wriggled back into 'normal' clothes in
the back of the van, and slunk away after only three races, feeling relieved
to have escaped. It was nice to win the prize, but I don't think it was
really our scene, as they say. We got home by about 9pm after driving
through torrential rain, but also into the setting sun - not a good
combination. Today we have reunited ourselves with all the animals, moved
the sheep out of the orchard where they are filching apples these days,
caught up with the foot & mouth news from the internet and just done normal
stuff. Have come to realise that the rest of the world doesn't really agree
with me - I'm better off just being a boring old fart at home.

6 August 01

Got the ponies in this morning to await the farrier (long overdue).
Considering they have more or less been running wild since March, they were
very well behaved. The larger of the two seems to have had a touch of
laminitis, which I feel awful about, but with things as they have been, they
have just had to live out, mainly because we have had no other means of
grazing our Countryside Stewardship land this year ( a duty normally
performed by a neighbour's cows), and also the sheep had eaten all the
ponies' hay while they had to be kept in, so the ponies just had to have
grass. We've dealt with it before (the Shetland was prone to it before we
had him) so hopefully we will be able to put the vulnerable one onto tight
rations now and get it sorted out. We would probably have got away with it
if I'd been able to exercise her at all, but of course that has been
impossible too. According to the farrier it's very common this year - even
amongst the posher horses, so I know we are not entirely to blame, but I
feel so angry that such a gentle, undemanding pony has had to suffer because
of the total cock-up that has been the management of FMD this year. The
wicked pointless slaughter continues apace in the Brecon Beacons. As the
farrier pointed out, the greatest slaughter happens in the beauty spots -
could this be because an alternative income (ie from tourism) is more easily
come by in such areas? Or would that be cynical? He also told me that there
was apparently an outbreak in Shebbear about a week or so ago (Yes, that's
Shebbear, in Devon - which is officially no longer an infected area!) but
with the tourist industry just beginning to clamber out of its depths of
disaster it was deemed just one too many to bear and hushed up. Is this
true? Who could I ask? Am I really surprised? No, I think it is inevitable,
and possibly why we are all being urged to maintain our bio-security when to
all intents and purposes the disease has left the area.

ENDS