The article reproduced below was published in our local paper just before Xmas. I used to live very near to Appleby and exchanged information with Mike Sanderson fairly regularly during 2001. Mike is a man’s man, a huge man and a fellow (ex.) Rugby Union player. I have immense respect for him, as do all of the rural community locally and elsewhere in Cumbria. Mike and I have shared very frank viewpoints together and I cannot help but think, as I read this article, that here is a man who is desperately being diplomatic but would dearly love to say more!

Some points of interest:-

Mike wrote “YOWS & COWS”, a brilliantly funny and interesting book on rural life in Cumbria. A great read. I was saddened to hear that Hause End farm, a family farm, has had to be sold. There are pictures of him on the farm in his book. (YOW is Cumbrian dialect for EWE).

Massive culling of the areas dairy cattle during FMD 2001 preceded the dramatic re-distribution of the Eden valleys Dairy herds. Most will think of the cull as primarily involving our sheep, particularly the Swaledale & Herdwick. These breeds suffered massive losses, but often forgotten is the annihilation of this areas dairy stock. 

Around 40% percent of Herdwicks were killed and a higher proportion of Swaledales. Don’t forget that this orgy of illegal killing centred on Great Orton, the disused airfield taken over by Brigadier Birtwhistle and his staff. I do not criticise Brigadier Birtwhistle at all; Cumbria was in disarray, MAFF were “Out of control!” (Quote from MP MORLEY) and dead stock lay on the ground for weeks as the pyres left the burning remains of some of the finest stock in the country in our gardens. Only a handful (single figures) of sheep killed at Great Orton were thought to have anti-bodies (not all were confirmed) as MAFF slaughter men and stock handlers continued to run amok in the killing fields of Cumbria. 

Sorry Mrs Beckett, for you to say there were no animal welfare problems during FMD 2001 has to be one of the most ignorant, self denying lies I think I have ever heard! I SAW atrocities committed by MAFF employees, so did many others. Do not lie to us! 

Great Orton was a travesty! Around 2.5 million sheep & lambs were killed there, many of them in intolerable conditions! A travellator ran all day transporting the small and pathetic carcases of newly born lambs to their massive graves. Many bore the massive injuries caused by the illegal use of CBI`s (Captive Bolt Instrument)on soft skulls. This method was sanctioned by MAFF and the british Government, it produces massive trauma in young lambs and many a slaughterman walked away from the carnage! A member of the Church informed me, that some slaughter men were admitted into local mental institution. One young slaughter man was killed there, leachate leaked into the surrounding areas polluting the land and becks and, astonishingly, MAFF still continue to speak with great pride at the marvellous work conducted at the recently renamed “WATCHTREE”! Plant a couple of trees and call it a nature reserve! 

Trouble is, the wild birds refused to sing during the spring of 2001 and I am not sure they do now! Nature Reserve? You are kidding Mrs Beckett aren’t you?








Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, 28th December 2002


LOOKING forward to 2002 a year ago I would have liked to see things in the farming world getting back to what we would think of as nor­mal following the foot and mouth debacle, writes Appleby NFU group secretary MIKE SANDERSON.  However, it is now becoming increasingly obvious nothing of the sort is going to happen.

The first thing everybody wanted to see disappear was the bureaucracy involved with anything to do with moving livestock but, although some of the licensing eventually slipped away, we are still left with this ludicrous 20 day rule which stops everything moving off a farm for three weeks after an animal has moved on. It makes no sense whatsoever and the result is that farming livestock in the area is nigh on impossible.

The rule encourages illegal movements and has also been quite legitimately and legally got around by moving stock and off holdings to suit the paperwork. This makes for extra unnecessary movements, which is exactly the opposite of what is wanted.

Not brave enough 

There are no boffins, vets or politicians in London brave enough to get out of their ivory towers and come down on the side of common sense. Surely a sensible and less onerous system would deliver more of what all sides want.

In the Upper Eden Valley, 2002 has seen a dramatic redistribution of the area's dairy herd.  Numerous medium size herds have not been replaced because of downward pressure on the milk price, while economies of scale have led to all the bigger herds getting another 50 or 100 cows.  You can see where it's heading and I suppose that's progress, but I'm not sure it's for the best.  

You can't look back on 2002 in these parts without mention of our auction com­panies. We've seen Penrith Farm­ers' and Kidd's give up the ghost on livestock auction­ing, while others have been more than willing to come in and take their place. Many of the figures have been in the public domain, but it strikes me there's more to it than meets the eye.  Time will no doubt tell. 


Neither can you look back on 2002 and not talk about the record-breaking #100,000 Swaledale tup. I wasn't called on to do so, but I am quite sure I could have justi­fied it to the press or TV. 

I didn't study economics at school but I understand supply and demand - a large percentage of the Swaledale flock was slaugh­tered and farmers were quite rightly compensated so they could replace them. 

It stands to reason that the price was going to reflect the fact there was only a certain number of quality tups around. 

Although #100,000 is an awful lot of money for one animal, if you reckon he could quite easily get 20 tup lambs at #5,000 then you're soon into profit, and if he can manage one or two more then away you go. 

The actual sale of the tup himself was pure theatre. The ring at Kirkby Stephen was jam packed because he was that day's prizewinner. Maurice Scott was in the box auctioning him and milked the occasion brilliantly - you could hear a pin drop. 

As the price went up and up he waved his hammer around the ring and asked: “Are you looking at me?" I certainly wasn't - I didn't dare twitch.  “Were there any more bids as there are a lot more to sell," he said. ,Tek yer time, tek were time," was the response of the vendor, a certain Mr Slack, of Stoneriggs. Ab­solute magic it was. Mr. Scott was walking on air for weeks. 

It certainly wasn't the best of PR for hill farming, but it definitely shut up those sniping over the valu­ations of pedigree stock. It didn't do the tup insurance man any harm either! 

Good advice 

One of the more interest­ing things this year has been watching folk go back after foot and mouth.  Some have jumped right back in, but others have just dipped their toes into the water. I've been asked for my opinion many times, but all I could say is that they'd have to ask someone a bit wiser than me. 

There has been one thing on the increase and that's the number of organisations and bodies dishing out advice, but I'm not sure they're any wiser than me. I'd say go with your gut feel­ing and do what suits you and your farm set-up the best - and certainly don't do what attracts most grant. 

Personal note 

From a personal point of view, 2002 has been just as traumatic as foot and mouth in 2001.  Because of illness we've had to give up Hause Farm and sell up.  Stock dispersal and farm sales were every bit as hard as foot and mouth culls.

 Although I'd not lived at Hause Farm all my life, it's always been part of my life and that just disappeared in front of my eyes. Friends, neighbours and family were all very supportive, but it's still hard when everything you've worked with for years disappears out of the farm gate.


And finally. . . . . .

In a nutshell 2002 was change at an ever increas­ing rate on the road to....