I have fought, along with better people than myself, to save our environment, our sheep, and our landscape.
I came here from Dorset, 12 years ago, Dorset's rolling hills and glorious coastline attracted many retirement people from the South East.
Coming to the Forest I found so many genuine farmers, rugged border country people, to whom the nurture of their flocks and the remoteness of the Forest was in their blood; but some, only a few, had no respect for their animals and cost the rest their lifestyle and their animals lives. I dont want to see them come back, but 3 farmers in this village survived, all who care desperately for their animals, and dont wheel and deal.
Collies we have in plenty, which are essential to re-hefting.
Brian, a good friend of mine, breeds native Lleyns, and despite being 2 fields away from an FMD confirmed outbreak, survived, but they were not free-roaming sheep; those all died.
Gradually the signs have come down, the tape has been removed from gates, the 2 entrances to the 2 pyres are now open, the odd bunch of flowers put there from time to time. My friend Mary still has yellow ribbons on her gate.
I remember in March driving through Llancloudy and Llangarron in Herefordshire with a chill in my spine, watching the smoke rising from the hills, only in April, to find my village, St Briavels, struck with the same plague. Our teenagers will never forget it.
I was only 16 living in rural Hertfordshire when the Oswestry outbreak began. It never reached the village I lived in then, but we lived in fear. This time I have seen the worst of it, and never want to live through this again, I can only wonder what those poor people in Shropshire went through at the time.
the Forest of Dean restocking, I hope that the Commoners will exclude the worst of the sheep farmers, restock with good hardy sheep, and heft them carefully; they have asked the Forestry Commission for pens to keep them in in times of hardship or disease.
It seems hard to believe that the nightmare is nearly a year old. I would love to see sheep back in the Forest, but with a few caveats, they were not a rare breed, but some were really cross bred mules owned by careless people, ( I agree with the pony people to a certain extent, let them restock Dartmoor, Exmoor and the Brecons with real original native ponies and sheep, animals bred to live in those areas,) some of the Forest sheep were just animals let loose by greedy dealers, bought in to get subsidies from Willy Cleaves and his like, NFU toadies, the Blakeney dealer who bought in sheep from him at Ross market and turned them loose infected large parts of the Forest, and good responsible farmers suffered huge heartache as a result.
Thanks to the fierce spirit of the Foresters (mainly women) we saved a few. Its coming up to the lambing season soon, there are restocked farms, maybe I will be able to go into the garden and hear their young bleating this year.