Back to website


Barramoor Farm
North Bovey

8th April 2005

Dear Chris

The problem with the post-traumatic stress, generated as a result of catastrophic events like Foot and Mouth, is that time has to move on, and things do go off the boil!

The urgency needed at the time to put in place aid, logistics and administration is forthcoming, but the final analysis doesn't always address the situation head on, and is found wanting.

It is brave of you, and necessary, that someone should maintain awareness of what Foot and Mouth did to families and farms and their animals, and indeed how whole communities and counties were affected at a strike, instilling anxiety, causing isolation and even a depth of fear at losing a lifetime's work, often built on generations of dedication, pride and sheer graft.

This quite horrific disease resulted in the forced removal of millions of animals, many which were burnt on the farm. Crossing the threshold of hope seemed distant and unimaginable at the time!

Lessons seemed to have been learnt, but much of this was known before and never implemented, over ruled by bureaucracy and not given the freedom of expression to highlight a better way forward for man and beast.

The 'burn-piles', lighting up the night time sky should never be allowed to happen again, or the indiscriminate removal of contiguous animals.

All this, in many cases on the farm where the animal was most likely to have been born and the farmer too; habitual, generative farming folk engaged in a mosaic farming scene of field, hedge, ditch and moor, and living with their animals, defending the age old practice of natural birth, giving dignity to their animals and offering countless care and sacrifice to achieve a meagre living. 'A continuous process of decision making in the face of uncertainty' often sustained by family succession, witnessing loyalty and a 'divine commitment' to livestock survival in the face of adversity.

There is a feeling of failure as the trust between guardian and animal is severed by 'force majeure!' or was it insensitivity or even insensibility and unfeeling, or the match that was to try and destroy farming and the countryside alliance, leaving just a conical of ashes from which there could be no up-rising, plundering the 'life blood' of a livestock economy at its very heart.

Re-generation under normal circumstances is time honoured; a calf spending nine months in its mother's womb and a lamb five months. All this indicates to me fragility and something that can't be speeded up and requires experience, vigilance, faithfulness and a seven-day week, in the hope that the final timing and attention will achieve a living birth that can be nurtured with good husbandry for months and often years ahead, expanding the foundation of breeding stock and to supply a nations food. These lives are a stockman's 'hallmark', portraying his courage and passion entrusted to him to help renew and foster tender life.

Well done Chris,

Good luck with your book.