News from Richard and Rue
New Year 2002
Hope you've all had a good year. Ours has been busy, especially lately, sorting out grazing sites, movement licences, and recalcitrant energisers, and erecting what feels like miles of electric fencing through marsh and thicket. However, all is now calm, at least for the moment...
Right: Shamrock, one of the three surviving J-class yachts at the Americas Cup Jubilee in August. That mast is around 150ft (50m) tall! See www.jclassyachts.com
One way and another this year has been dominated, both personally and professionally, by cattle and the nightmare of FMD. It's been a worrying, distressing and depressing time for anyone with livestock, and for many others living and working in the countryside. We have been comparatively lucky--when the movement restrictions came in our cattle were on a well-isolated site and were able to stay there during the worst part of the epidemic. We disinfected carefully and avoided contact with farms, farmers and other livestock. After a few local scares the nearest case was some forty miles away. The difficulties we've had seem minor compared with what other people have suffered.
Work was severely disrupted for both of us, with all access to sites stopped for months and contracts cancelled or postponed. Rue's boss Rob farms at Hatherleigh in Devon, right in the thick of it (Paula Wolton, of Countryfile fame, is his wife). We had to avoid any contact in the office in case we transmitted it, but did get appalling first-hand reports of the outbreak. The New Forest was closed (and all the cattle taken off) for several months, resulting in severe welfare problems for cattle stuck on smallholdings with little winter feed after the terrible wet winter. Over half the New Forest's c 3000 cattle were lost to the welfare cull, and Rue has been closely involved in plans to help support commoning in future.