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Alistair McConnachie published Sovereignty from July 1999 to its 120th consecutive monthly issue in June 2009, and he continues to maintain this website.
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Feb 26, 2001
7.00am Making coffee, listening to John Humphries on Radio 4. Case of Foot and Mouth confirmed in Essex abattoir. Shout upstairs to Bill; Foot and Mouth in Essex, I have never heard him move that quickly first thing in the morning. Bill remembers last time and he started talking about disinfectant mats. (A bit over the top). Evening news. Heddon on the Wall, Essex, traced back to Northumberland. Pigs in squalor on television we see pigs that have obviously never been used to clean beds nuzzling around in barley straw. I suppose they will kill them.

Feb 27
7.00am John Humphries: ALL ANIMAL MOVEMENTS STOP. Infected meat from Newcastle Airport waste n pig swill caused F&M in Heddon. RSPCA and MAFF had everything under control; Bill puts down a disinfectant pad up at our farm. We talk about what if ... It's decided we move in with "the girls", our pedigree Dexter cows, if need be.

March 5
Suspect cases at Woodchester and Thornbury. Nick from the office phones and says can Bill not use the estate slaughterhouse. Why he couldn't tell Bill as he drove past I shall never know. Straw mats go down at estate entrance designed in a hurry, would make Beechers Brook look like a puddle. Taurus Crafts don't like it. Tough! [The craft shop that shares the drive entrance with Bill and Sue's property; belongs to Oaklands Park, which successfully resisted slaughter]

March 9
Move out of cottage into trailer, Bill phones Radio Gloucester. Freelance photographer meets Bill at the end of lane, and lets Bill use his camera. We appear in Times, Telegraph, Western Daily Press and Citizen. Reporter did well out of that. We get calls from Points West, GMTV Trevor Macdonald all very interested in our living in the trailer, although not F&M and our Dexters! Everybody except Points West who send a courier with a sealed camera out from Bristol while Bill takes photos for the news, he sends the courier to buy him some tobacco.

March 10
6pm News. A case in Gloucestershire please let it be the Cotswolds or Cheltenham; no it's Newnham-on-Severn, only 6 miles away. In fact Bullo Pill, only 5 miles away -- terror, fear, call it what you will. I felt sick with it. The phone rang. Pat screaming down the phone what are we going to do? Enid rang. Borax order faxed through -- good old Galen; arrived within 24 hours. Start of isolation and cold weather sets in. I'm not going to dwell on our living conditions, because it is not our first priority. Our Dexters are our main concern. But in the first few days it was bloody uncomfortable.

We have all of our animals inside. When the wind blows in a certain direction we pull down the shutters just in case; silly really, I'm waiting for an object about the size of a tennis ball with F&M Virus written on it to come through the window. You never know, I might just be able to stop it; if that sounds daft, what would you do in this position?

No news on Newnham, Woodchester or Thornbury. Mr Nick Brown says it's under control. Life goes on. More carcasses in Cumbria and Devon; we clean out cow pens by day and worry by night. I have developed a taste for Sherry. It's very comforting and sends you to sleep. F&M found in Herefordshire. Mr Brown says it's all under control. Apparently, Devon dealer dropped sheep at markets all the way from Hexham to Oakhampton. Mr Brown says it's all under control.

March 11
Dave Davis this side of Blakeney goes down. 50 sheep bought in from Hexham prove positive. Mr D had asked to have these sheep slaughtered as soon as F&M was discovered to have come from Hexham market but the Ministry said it was unnecessary; they would keep a twice-weekly check on them. From these sheep it spreads to a farm at Frampton-on-Severn across the river on the wind.

March 13
A confirmed case Westbury-on-Severn again. Wind-borne. Mr Brown says it's all under control. Mr Davis at Blakeney also has sheep at St. Braivels about 5 miles away. These are found positive and nearly take Brian Baker's herd of dairy cattle with them. Mark Hinds speaks out on Radio Glos. A case at Awre, again wind-borne, it's claimed.

March 14
More cases. Cumbria, Dumfries & Galloway, Devon, Wiltshire, and Monmouthshire: But Mr Brown says it's all under control (I am beginning to doubt this).

March 16
Much sadness. Aldridges prove positive. It's coming closer, moving along the river. He has 300 cattle. They are slaughtered Friday and left in the yards over the weekend. The Aldridges are walking through their dead girls. The fire starts the following Wednesday. The Ministry Vet has to stab each cow to let out the gas before they are put on the fire. He breaks down and resigns. We walked over our 12-acre hay field Wed afternoon, and there was the smoke, and cried. Bill went quiet, this brought it home to us, and the sight will live with me forever -- I don't care what Mr Brown says. It's not under control.

March 17
It's spreading -- Berkley it must have blown over the river, perhaps this is just an isolated case. Brown's still trying to kid us.

March 18
How on earth did it get to Sandhurst? Those poor buggers flood, chemical explosions and now F&M. Mr Mayo was on television and if ever my heart went out to anyone -- it's him. Berkley yesterday, Sandhurst today. It does seem to be following the river.

March 19
English Bicknor near Coleford: I think this may have come from Herefordshire. They want to take out the neighbouring farms. They keep killing just for the sake of it, and then leaving the carcasses to rot. Why can't they bury or burn the dead ones first?

March 21
The first day of spring. I think spring is cancelled this year. Blakeney again; spreading outwards from the first case. A large flock is stated positive - 2000 sheep all destroyed & left in the fields. This farmer also had sheep at St.Braivels. I don't know whether they count this as one or two cases.

March 22
Popes Hill, Newnham: It seems to have got into the forest, but the sheep still roam freely. Anderford Rd, Blakeney. I used to pass this farm each night, driving from Gloucester. Rodley on the way to Gloucester, 500 pigs this time. And another at Berkley. It really does seem to be following the river. Four cases in Gloucestershire today.

After our publicity we have received many good wishes and messages on the answer phone from Andrew and Sue Bowden, and Morag and David Norman. Cards from people we don't know, some have Dexters, and some just love animals. We see both sides of the Human Race. There are some good ones left out there. Bev Rawlings has kept our spirits up with regular phone calls -- her phone bill must be astronomical.

March 24
More cases at Berkley, they talk of taking out 15 farms. Surely they won't? There is talk of the army coming in to help. All very frightening. Mr Cullimore's rare breed cattle are to be taken as dangerous contacts. Why isn't he appealing? He's not even going to fight it. If it were me they would have to shoot me first. 3 cases in our county today: 2 at Berkley, 1 at English Bicknor.

March 25
A very black day. Keith Davis farm at Blakeney, FMD confirmed. Gavin phoned Bill this morning. Keith, chairman of local NFU, whose wife used to help Bill milk the park's cows; had been on the radio most mornings. He was in the thick of the outbreak and our hearts went out to him - and his wife, Yvonne. They had cattle on 2 farms: They are going to slaughter the lot. The army are now being used in an advisory capacity. Lots of advice: No one acts on it though.

March 26
Ernest Crocket, a small farm at Braius Grn on the Blakeney/Scrudley road; confirmed. 1 case at Oldbury. So much for the Berkley fire break. It's skipped over and escaped. 1 at Brockweir overlooking the Wye, and Ernest Awre of Awre near Blakeney. This includes David's herd of Gloucesters. There is only one farm left on the Awre peninsula: Roy Barber's. He gave up his sheep to be slaughtered in order to save his dairy cows. Seven family farms have gone, and we have huge pillars of smoke all around us. Vietnam must have looked something like this.

April 20
7am News. Radio Gloucester. MAFF threaten to murder 6 sheep on Pope's Hill as dangerous contacts. (The confirmed case was March 22. What took them so long?) A lady phones Radio Gloucester and says over her dead body; her neighbours block the roadway to the sheep. MAFF back down. They really cannot kill people's healthy pets.

We received a fax from Rapid Reaction Force (some more Forest of Dean heroes of the FMD crisis). We now know how to deal with the MAFFia when they descend. FFA (Farmers for Action) have written to Government insisting on being allowed into vaccination meetings as farmer's representatives. Violet is still waiting and eating for about 20. Delore's calf due.

8 Cases today; all in the North. The piles of animals in Devon grow daily. It must be a living hell down there. Sometimes you forget that this outbreak is not nationwide, and wonder why no one is doing anything to stop this wholesale killing. Bill's son John rang and said he had been in the Lake District working where every strange face is viewed with suspicion, and groups are starting to stand up to MAFF. About time too.

April 21
Lady from Lydbrook called Pat Innocent, on Radio Gloucester. MAFF want to slaughter her 19 sheep today. She says they must test first and will stop them. Rapid Reaction Force have 30 protestors turn up. Good luck to them. Henry Broughton (NFU) was also interviewed and he actually agreed with her actions. The worms are turning! Bill rang Radio Gloucester and complained that whenever they interviewed NFU they referred to them as "Farmer's leaders" Only 40% of this Country's farmers belong to the NFU (so they are not!).

By the 12.00 news, Mr Broughton had become a farmer from Littledean. 40 cases throughout the day. None thank God, in Gloucestershire. Violet still hasn't produced; her belly is only inches from the ground. Delores 1 day overdue. Peter gave us a litre bottle of Whisky. MAFF have murdered 500 sheep and a boy's pet pig in Cumbria. They got their map reading wrong and were 100 miles away from where they should have been. Perhaps they had the map upside-down and thought they were in Devon. Sunny warm day, and the Dexters want to be out.

Saw Joanna Lumley on 10pm News, leading a silent demonstration in Downing Street. She said MAFF had duped us all into believing slaughter to be the only way out of this evil situation. Our petition was handed in at No.10 today.

April 22
8am News: Radio Gloucester. Pat Innocent, lady at Lydbrook, along with protestors, saw off the men from MAFFia. She's getting her own vet in to test her animals. The Rapid Reaction Force are the small farmer's saviours. God bless them.

9.00am Country Matters, Radio Gloucester. John Bircher from Arlingham (just over the river) read his diary for the week. There is always someone worse off than you are. I do hope he makes it through this without slaughter. He said a MAFF seconded vet from his area had spent a day over our side at Bream looking for stray forest sheep. All day they found 12. Henry Broughton NFU, said that the virus can live up to 28 days even in hay, so hay could not be moved around in infected areas. [???]

The army are bringing in bales of straw from elsewhere in the country for the pyres; and leaving the farmer's hay and straw in his barns. Why can they not use this to fuel the pyres? It has to be destroyed eventually. We are hearing of cases of Orf, a gum disease of sheep, being mistaken for F&M by inexperienced vets. 1 case near Mr Bircher, 1 at Rodley, and 1 at E. Bicknor came back negative.

Still nothing with Violet or Delores. Tomorrow is St. George's day. They played 'Land of Hope and Glory' on the radio (pardon me for the hollow laugh), 8 cases announced on the BBC news. MAFF have stopped telling us where they are. Dioxin emissions are more from burning animals than from heavy industry. Friends of the Earth say slaughter and burn was not necessary. Some senior MAFF officers are starting to agree with them. 30,000 animals are to be disposed of. Some are now mostly in Devon.

What a monumental cock-up from start to finish. What will the history books make of it?

Bill and Sue Osborne ended their trailer vigil on the 27 May, with their animals still alive and well. Dolores calved a son on 29 April and Violet gave birth on 1 May.

>> ... pictures of the Osborne's Dexter cattle ... <<

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