To say that the year 2001 was a bad year would be an understatement. We were hardly out of the Winter when on February 20th came the news item which was to dominate our lives for the next nine months, and in fact, is still causing problems. It was Foot and Mouth disease.

No one on that day could visualise the horror and misery that it was going to cause to us in the Rural community. In our long lives, Joyce and I have not been part of anything so distressing. During the Birmingham Blitz we all knew who our enemies where. So many people and organisations became our enemies, especially MAFF/Defra, who were and still are behaving in an almost criminal and certainly incompetent way. We saw forty healthy ewes and around sixty very young lambs, (one was born while being loaded in to the transporter), taken for slaughter, from our land.

They were taken in the so called 'Voluntary Depopulation Scheme', because of an alleged infected farm some two miles away. We believe that the infected farm was many weeks later found to have been NEGATIVE, in any case 'our' flock were taken long after the possible incubation period. They were found to be healthy when they arrived at the slaughter house.

As a result of all this we have decided that no animals will be taken on to our thirty-one acres, unless they can be protected against the decisions of Defra; this is unlikely in view of the Animal Health (Death) Bill that is going through Parliament at this moment, which seeks to legalise the many illegal acts that have been carried out in the last nine months.

You may find all the above distressing. Unless you have sat day after day dealing with the distressing stories that came to the Internet Support Group that I have been an active part of, you would not understand the horror. Most of you will know that I am xenophobicly British, but the behaviour of most of the organisations involved with FMD has caused me to wonder what is happening to this Country of ours.

One outcome of the above is that I have had a rapid learning curve in computing and the Internet, and apparently discovered a talent for writing, looking back at my contributions to the Group I am quite amazed. A poem 'You see, I love Sheep', written on the morning that 'our' sheep went is in the process of being published in an anthology of FMD.

Well that is a rather sad report of our year, all of us we feel, wonder where our World is going to. September 11th affected people we know and has given us all much to think about. It should remind us all that the Human Race, of all the inhabitants of this beautiful Planet of ours, has the capability of great evil, and yet at the same time be capable of great sacrifice. Our minds seem to be able to encompass great beauty, supreme creations of art, to be caring and compassionate. And yet, we continue to make, as a species, the most evil and destructive acts. At times like this I think God must despair of us.

Please remember in your thoughts and prayers all those who have suffered and are still in need of comfort.

May you all have a Joyous and Happy Christmas and a better New Year than this one that is coming to its close.

From all of the Drew Family.