Meanwhile down on the farm.
This column was meant to be about my life as a twenty something girl in London, but the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease means that most of my waking hours are spent thinking about my family who are dairy farmers in Shropshire and my uncle who has a mixed livestock farm in Worcestershire.
I am not going to focus on the much-publicised financial side of the crisis, but to try and explain how this has affected us all on a personal level. Our family farm has become a no go area in an attempt to prevent what now seems an inevitable slaughter of our animals. The memories of the 1967 outbreak are etched into the memory of our local area and when the first case was confirmed a collective chill ran through the community. While at the time of writing Shropshire has yet to have a case, the chance that the county will escape unharmed seems slim.
Infact there are now three reported cases in Shropshire... ed
No one goes in or out of the farm unless the need is urgent. This is in part because of the difficulty in getting the right disinfectants and that they have almost been rationed. My brother Richard, a vet in the local town, has not been home since the crisis started to look serious. Instead he has set up camp in his surgery and seems to be working all the hours he physically can.
My other brother, Chris who runs an internet start up company from home as well as assisting my father, is spending his whole time with the herd. The thought of having these animals, who are our first priority, slaughtered has affected my Father and Chris very badly. They can barely bring themselves to talk about the situation. I phone home every night to talk to them but really I think that they just want to know that I am there on the other end of the line. My Mother is a tower of strength but I am sure that even she has her breaking point. I doubt that she will let us see that though. I am being actively discouraged from going home, and I am not sure when I will be able to see my family, my cob, Charlie and the cows again. I might never see the cows again. This is a thought that is almost too much to bear. I have known the herd for as long as I can remember. Yes it is an ever changing body of cows, but collectively the herd is as much a member of the family as I am.
On my maternal uncle Dan's farm, the flocks of sheep are still on the winter pastures and lambing is due to start. Six farms in Worcestershire at the time of writing are currently affected and the ban on the movement of animals is really starting to bite. Dan is currently trying to get some sort of temporary lambing shed erected in the pastures. His first priority is to make sure that those ewes that need help in lambing get the help they need. But at the back of his mind he is a worried man.
I am disappointed that Cheltenham and Badminton have been cancelled and I know that there is a real emergency in rural areas. I, however, cannot help but be selfish and hope that our farms escape the cull. To think of our sleek, glossy Friesians, whose eyes seem to express so much and who have been a part of my life for so long, on a MAFF pyre is too much to bear.