It’s odd how strangely divorced I feel from the news of the new FMD outbreak in Surrey and all the horror it entails.

I can’t really understand my own reaction. It surprises me. But I don’t think it’s just me. Even the national news is remarkably devoid of hype and those gruesome, unnecessary, pictures of dead or dying livestock. And when I speak about it with anyone involved in farming, there is a telling hesitation before the appropriate expressions and remarks.

Feelings ought to be heightened as the restrictions come at an especially difficult time (not that there’s ever a ‘right’ time) and will, once again, have a huge effect.

This is the season when many of the big sheep and cattle sales are held, some having been postponed once already due to backlog from the August outbreak. And there’s tupping (running the rams with the ewes) which all sheep farmers should be in the thick of.


I put my tups in with the ewes on the 1st October, but ‘tease’ the ewes for two weeks beforehand. Teasing helps to synchronise oestrus so you have a nice, tight lambing pattern instead of a long drawn out one. To tease the ewes, I keep the rams the other side of the fence, but in clear sight and smell. This should be happening now. But it’s impossible because our ewes are over on rented land and the tups are here on the home farm. Tupping will be put back until the movement restrictions are lifted, and lambing will be late.

Having gone clear on my TB test, I’m able to sell my bulling heifers. One buyer wants the heifers to be served by my bull. Fine and dandy – but he’s here at the home farm while the heifers are away on other land. I like to keep the bull with the heifers for six weeks as this covers any returns – cows ‘come bulling’ (cycle) every three weeks. I only have sixty days in which to sell from the first TB test. Time is already looking lean…will I be able to sell or will the restrictions put the scuppers on that?

Faced with this enormous disruption, why aren’t we furious? I guess we are emotionally-overloaded, feelings deadened?

But, but, but it’s wonderful to have Joe, Jess and Theo here. Impossible to be glum – they make me feel alive and zinging!


Hopefully the rumoured lifting of restrictions in certain areas will happen, and the now permitted movements from farm to abattoirs will help.