A gloomy day, as the curtains are drawn over the British countryside.
We have made the decision to lock the gate at the top of the drive until the FMD crisis is over, however long that might be. I telephoned Lloyd (our friend & neighbour at Black Oak Farm) to reassure him that the trailer we’d borrowed from him yesterday to transport Porky to Havefordwest, had of course been thoroughly cleaned & disinfected before we returned it; he suggested we take no chances, & lock our gate. we’re lucky, we can; his farmyard is right on the roadside. Seclusion can be an unexpected blessing as well as a relaxing pleasure, it seems.
Ironically Lloyd told me that he’d only just found out about the outbreak: as we aren’t yet producing any cheese or ice cream, I’m sure we’re not as yet taken seriously as dairy farmers (although thankfully, our neighbours give us due credibility) – but I’m worried that Defra have not yet emailed everyone with a CPH (County/Parish/Holding Number – i.e. everyone with even the smallest smallholding) directing them to appropriate advice, or requesting vital information to halt the spread of the disease – for example, ‘Have you purchased any susceptible animals, in the last fortnight? And if so, from where??’ But I’m confident they must surely be plotting the potential spread of the problem even as we ‘blog’, having gathered in all Movements Licences from the last month as the disease has an incubation period of a fortnight, plus ‘comfort zone’ time (after all, that’s what all this painstaking paperwork we have to produce is for, isn’t it?? – to track exactly what livestock has moved from where, to where, & when & how….hmmm).
Before we had the chance to ‘batten down the hatches’, a neighbouring smallholder popped down to the Ffarm for some eggs, not thinking that FMD could really pose a threat (as yet) because Surrey’s such a long way away….lucky we can even segregate our upper, middle & lower farmyards for even tighter biosecurity, as well! Despite being a sheep keeper he – & indeed many of our other neighbours – seem remarkably sanguine about the situation: yet they endured the last dreadful epidemic, vividly recalling the devastation & horror wreaked across the nation’s farming community; whilst this is our first real experience of such a worrying outbreak.
However, perhaps our military knowledge of dealing with biosecurity & other such issues (After all, I was a member of the Nuclear Accident Response Organisation’s Immediate Reaction Force, for many years), has heightened our awareness regarding prevention of the spread of infectious diseases & other emergency situations.
So we took (possibly our last, for the forseeable future) trip into Carmarthen, to purchase bulk feed/food stocks, disinfectant, & decontamination equipment. The Farmers’ Co-Op informed us that mostly vets & milk tanker drivers had been in to purchase vehicle sprays; but that much of the farming community had opted not to bother as yet; preferring to wait until a more direct threat is posed. Nevertheless, they’d sold out of (those ridiculously expensive) disinfectant mats, so we visited our local branch of Allied Carpets to see if they could help. Lorraine, who was manning (or should I say ‘womaning’?!) the Information Desk was all too happy to furnish us with armfuls of carpet offcuts for us to use as a temporary measure – what a thoughtful gesture, & one for which, we are extremely grateful.
Being an airline pilot, Tony inevitably travels considerably further on a weekly basis than the majority of folks in the local area. Additionally, he goes a fair bit closer to currently susceptible areas as he works out of Heathrow; so we have to be especially careful. I’m sure our neighbours wouldn’t thank us, if it turned out we brought the disease to the area owing to a lack of biosecurity! So we are affording them the same consideration, we trust they’ll afford us….though it broke our hearts to erect the ‘No Entry Until Further Notice’ sign at the top of the drive. Incredible, this rollercoaster ride of farming – how we can go from weary triumph with the gathering in of our hay, to feeling sick with fear that we might lose everything we’ve worked towards, in an instant; that, how lucky we are, to have plenty of hay to feed animals that may be protected by their isolation; or that conversely, it may never be eaten, should the unthinkable happen….oh what stress.
Headline news: we’re locked away….