2001: February/March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December | 2002: January


2 November

HM sent round an e mail message to the college staff to the effect that the farm was inspected this week following all the cleaning and disinfection work that has been undertaken. Note that the infection with F&M was in MARCH and we have a number of dedicated, able staff who are not only competent to do a good deal of the disinfection themselves but also the education and confidence to tackle DEFRA staff if they are being impractical... "The good news" is that the farm was deemed to have passed the criteria required to move from a Form A to a FM7.

However it doesn't allow anyone any more access to the farm than is already in place; we can't relax our bio-security measures. It allows the college to move to the next stage in the bureaucratic process where "we have two options".

"1.To contemplate restocking with sentinel animals [a few of the same species that were in those locations originally] in 21 days' time, wait 28 days, then subsequently blood test. If these are negative we are then eligible to restock and have more access to the land.

"2.To wait 4 months, i.e.until 1 March 2002 without any stock after which the restrictions are removed.

"Therefore I confirm that whilst Form A has been lifted we are still under the same restrictions on the farmland and buildings."

7 weeks from now is Christmas. That will be NINE MONTHS since foot and mouth arrived on our farm. This is the fastest that restocking can be done. It will be well into 2002 before the "dead stretch" between Crosby Ravensworth Common and Penrith comes back to life; if it ever does. I wonder also how the "surviving" farmers have been able to weather their long spells of frustration, lack of income etc, along with the fight to cope with the regulatory paperwork?

10 November

A quick trip to Kendal this morning, stocking up on groceries prior to a friend's visit from America. The Farmers' Market has been revived in Orton today for the first time since March. The disinfectant mats have gone off the roads at Tebay roundabout, from Gaisgill and from the A685. There were no cars being disinfected on the A685 pressure washing station on either the outward or inward trip. Restrictions on movements of stock were being relaxed yesterday.

When I came home I could not drive into the yard. WK's sheep were (and still are) penned in the gateway to be checked over prior to the first fat lambs going for sale, at long last. The wagon is due to arrive tomorrow (Sunday) to take them so this is a preliminary vet check for health. One lamb however has a scab in its mouth and its temperature is 103, so "the Ministry vet" is expected shortly to pronounce on whether it's F&M or not. Please God it isn't, after so long! NOT Foot and mouth...

There are all the silly things to be sorted out now, if it does turn out positive. Do I leave my car out on the roadside? G* can't go out to work because our wagon is on the "other side" of the gateway where the sheep are penned. Will I be able to go to work on Monday? And what can I say to my American friend?

Subject: All well
Date sent: Sat, 10 Nov 2001 16:30:03 -0000

The ministry man took 3 hours to get here (God knows why) but the decision is that the lambs are negative for F&M.

The yard's filthy from the sheep standing in all day, so we have been swilling and sweeping, but at least things can now go on as normal.

The vet said he thought it was very unlikely that we would see any cases of F&M now that there has been such a long spell without any.

I took a photo of the discussion group of farmers and vets, but they were not amused. ;-]

Date received: Fri, 16 Nov 2001 16:07:25 +0000 - a message from the Campus farm at Newton Rigg

Subject: Welcome Back.

250 days ago we went down with Foot and Mouth.The good news today is that we have just taken delivery of 250 gimmer lambs (girls) to Sewborwens from our Hill Farm at Low Beckside.These have been blood tested and moved under licence, thereby relieving some of the grazing pressures which J* R* has been struggling with all year. Whilst this is a step forward, we are still under restrictions and no-one is allowed to visit the fields on Sewborwens side of the road.

17 November

W*K*s sheep have gone from our fields, so licences to move stock are obviously obtainable now. And we drove by A*R's place (Hall Farm) this morning - which was slaughtered out earlier in the year because the cattle had F&M - and he was taking delivery of a load of straw, so restocking must be in sight.

18 November

Met M*R* at church and she confirmed that Hall Farm completed its cleansing on Friday and they are getting ready to start up the dairy herd again.

19 November

Heard on the radio that it's suggested the restocking of the open fell with sheep could be helped by electric fencing to convince the sheep of their boundaries (or "heafs").... I remember us being contacted by the local council about an electric fence which someone had straddled when crossing our land. He wasn't a happy chappie, because our fence packed a considerable punch even when applied to not-so-tender parts of the anatomy. My mind is full of happy images of ramblers trying to step over the electric fences if this new "right to roam" legislation comes in.

21 November

At short notice, we are told of a staff meeting with "3 line whip" for attendance. Message: the Campus is overstaffed by 22 jobs and will have to lose 14 staff to begin to break even. The agricultural, forestry and other land based schools will suffer most: 6 jobs to go from Ag and 4 from Forestry, and 4 from elsewhere. If F&M had not made Cumbria an area that farmers are reluctant to send their sons to, some of the "overstaffing" might have been supportable; as it is, voluntary retirements/severances are being sought.