We were out last night.
I’ve just turned the computer on (8am) and here was an email from a customer and friend
‘Dear Paula
The news last night can only have had one reaction throughout the country, “Oh no, not again!”
Our thoughts are with you and your lovely ‘boys and girls’, and we fervently wish your area and your farm are spared in the weeks to come.
We wish you the very best of luck.
With best wishes
David & Lizzie’

What did it mean…though in my heart of hearts I knew. My stomach lurched and went cold, I felt sick and my head fizzed. No, not again
I went straight to BBC news and there it was
‘Farm infected with foot-and-mouth’
‘Cattle at a farm in Surrey have been found to be infected with foot-and-mouth disease.
Some 60 animals on the farm near Guildford have tested positive for the disease which wreaked havoc in 2001.’

I’m writing this as I go through a hundred different emotions in my mind. I’m not quite grasping it yet. It’s been a difficult enough summer as it is. Just yesterday afternoon I was talking to a neighbour who said his heart was not in it any more (I had popped over into his fields to see how his harvest was going)…he had just cut great ruts in his meadows and didn’t know how the land was going to cope with the weight of the bailer and loaded trailers. He went on to say that a fellow neighbour of his was feeling suicidal, and all this was before today’s news.

This area was the epicentre of the major South West outbreak in 2001, the place where it all started down here. I watched as one by one all the surrounding farms were taken out. At one point I had four pyres smouldering around the farm. The air reeked of foul rotting and burning flesh. That year it rained ashes, hair, blood and bone. Our community still hasn’t recovered. For some extraordinary reason my animals didn’t get it. A lone survivor in a 3 mile radius.

I don’t know how to react. One part of me is blanking it off. Thinking how I was thinking yesterday. But as the truth fizzes up I feel a cold dread and the enormity of it rushes in.

I would like to have faith that someone somewhere learned lessons from the debacle of 2001…but, you know, I don’t.

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