First the bad news: there will be no message from us for the next two days
(do we here cheering out there?).  We are taking son Martin to university so
will be off-line until Wednesday.  Poor Martin will be relieved to move into
a new environment where the constant daily topic of conversation is
something - anything - other than foot and mouth disease.

And while we are on the subject, we may as well prepare you for further
changes in our message service.  We are proposing to ease back just a little
to, say, four or five mailings a week rather than every night.  Please don't
draw the wrong conclusions from this - we are not losing heart or giving up.
Yes, it has been a long haul and it could go on for much longer yet, so we
need to pace ourselves better, otherwise our energies may run out.  There
are other aspects of our lives that have been neglected for seven months
now, so we just have to strike a balance and allocate some precious time in
other directions.  There are even new projects to tackle that demand our
time as well.

So we will not be idle, or disheartened, on those days when no E-mail
arrives at your Inbox.  Do keep sending those responses back to us - and
don't forget the jokes either.


Valerie sends these thoughts from Maine USA:

I would like to suggest the politicians cast their minds back a few years to
the time when one man was celebrated for putting Yorkshire on the
international map...honoured because of the resultant development of tourism
to rural England........ invited to Buckingham Palace to have dinner and
then a private conversation with the Queen ( wasn't he knighted?  eat your
hearts, out King and Anderson! )......( no, maybe he got an
OBE )...........invited abroad, such was his status.......

he wrote about the life of farmers in the Dales.......... ( he lamented the
displacement of the horse by the tractor).........and always said he was
privileged to have lived in a time when small, really small, farms supported
families.......where EVERY cow had a name, and most were loved, where his
own favourite farm animals were the.................SHEEP!, and his
favourite reward was presenting a ewe with her lamb..........and his
favourite sight was the gambolling of lambs in the fields...........

Ironically, a lot of his work consisted in the ministry's policy of
eradicating disease in cattle ( not eradicating the animals )

I think it is perhaps a mercy that Alf Wight is no longer with
us..........the author of the James Herriott books would surely have felt
the pain we are all feeling.......and it would surely have been unbearable
for him to see British agriculture being dismantled the way it
is...........and the farmers he so admired being bludgeoned the way they

Is it really the same country that revered Alf Wight that is now destroying
the very agriculture he painted in his books.......the very agriculture the
world came to love?



Sara asks:

I was given to understand that the B of BSE stood for Bovine. This being
the case, how can a sheep (ovine) get a cow disease? Or am I being
completely thick again?? Surely wouldn't this be like a dog getting cat


Michaela says:

The BSE in sheep theory.  Not new, you may recall I mentioned it a month or
more ago, and see below. u.htm

If I may put on a consultants hat for a moment, I would urge those who wish
to continue in some aspect of farming to pursue the niche market.  Find
something that is quite different, a unique taste, flavour, product.  No, we
are not talking cheap or of feeding the masses, but it is the only way you
are likely to survive.  The alternative is to become a part of an
agricultural conglomerate who will dictate how much, what, when where and

Look forward to the day when your muscle meat will be grown on the
laboratory shelf (no wasteful bone, nerves and sinew) and milk 'factories'
will be located on the outskirts of cities (no/low transport costs...a major
input), with cows housed year round under artificial lighting to prolong
seasons and increase yields.



Jane sent in this message with the title "Sex and sheep":

Hope the title of this email caught your eyes!  Could you please consult the
oracle that is your email list on the following?   (This isn't meant to be
the evening's joke!)

This may be a very stupid question, but I'm going to ask it
anyway...............Is it possible to A.I. sheep?

If so can it be done by one's own vet, or is there a kind of sheep AI man
(or woman) who has to do it?  For those of us with a small number of sheep
and no ram, the logistics and the cost of borrowing one are prohibitive -
even if we were prepared to take the risk. (I'm not).  Does anyone know if
there is a simple way of buying sheep semen?  Is it terrifically expensive
or complicated?  Does it come under the same restrictions on movement as a
live animal?  Any information would be gratefully received both by me and
probably quite a few other smallholders.  If I'm just showing my ignorance,
please be patient.

All external news is so depressing that I'm turning my attention to things
close at hand for a while.

All the best,



From the Warmwell website:

Sept 30 ~ BSE and vCJD scare stories are in the news - panic is being
The Sunday Times is doing its bit with its timely report that "up to 41
hospitals unwittingly operated on patients incubating variant CJD (vCJD) -
and then used the instruments on other people. " It lights the blue touch
paper of fear as it concludes "The potential for blood to transmit such
diseases was shown recently when British scientists infected sheep with BSE.
They then transfused the animals' blood into healthy sheep, which
subsequently also went down with the disease." and reminds us "Last week
agriculture ministers warned that they may have to order the slaughter of
Britain's 40m sheep if any are found to have BSE."
Why are we unaccountably wanting to add Squealer's persuasive and inevitable
word "Comrades"?
Why has the Department of Health suddenly and loudly announced that it is to
set up a #55m fund to compensate the victims of vCJD. Why are we being told
that "so far 106 people in Britain have contracted the illness...." when
vCJD stories have been kept very quiet up to now in Britain? The answer may
well be that the unthinkable is being thought and public opinion is being
moulded in readiness.



Michaela sent us the attachment accompanied by this note:

 I had meant to send you the attached in the previous message, from a great
book entitled 'Buddhism for sheep'.  Not exactly a  joke...


Tonights (official) joke comes from Graham:

I'm afraid this joke is excruciating:

Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Cowgoes who?
Don't be daft, cow goes MOO!

from Alan & Rosie