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