OK this is a bit off-topic but it's not everyday you're village is on the National News. I'm in the Epicentre of the Foot and Mouth outbreak. I was away in Cornwall only to return to my village, Elstead and find out that we've been on the front page because of the Foot and Mouth. Poor Roger Pride and family have had all their cattle destroyed. They have two farms, one in Elstead and one in Normandy, near the suspected source of the outbreak. Prides have a great farm shop on Thursley Road where they sell Free Range Meat. I've been going there for years and was planning to buy a nice joint of beef that week in fact. It's extraordinary how such momentous events chance upon one particular person or family. These things happen and your life is upside down and things will never be the same.
I have found it interesting as it's given me an insight into village life. I thought it was largely a commuter village (we have good access to London here) but I'm seeing how rural it really is, despite being so near London (35 miles). Our MP, Jeremy Hunt wrote and invited us all along to a Public Meeting. In the interests of finding out what was going on and having a good nose, I went along and passed through the disinfectant zone like everyone else attending. I was quite impressed by a few things. Firstly, Jeremy Hunt managed to get the Minister for Rural Affairs, Jonathan Shaw down to grace our Village Hall with his ministerial presence and a bunch of high-fallutin' people to come and tell us what was going on. I was also impressed by the concern of the village inhabitants. There were several hundred people and mostly everyone was worried about what to do with their dogs and horses and why the footpaths hadn't been closed. They just wanted to do what they could to prevent it spreading. It felt good being around so many well-intentioned folk.
It was curious, though, to watch the depth of feeling and the way people selectively listened. It was obvious the feeling of the room was that they wanted the footpaths closed. However, there was a rather poor-communicating but obviously very senior vet who said his stuff and what he was saying was that the risk of people, dogs and horses was minimal given the statistical models. He was a little obscure but it was obviously what no-one wanted to hear. Everyone wanted clarity; not statistics. At the same time, however, even though they say how little risk there is from humans etc they still haven't given us any info on how the disease managed to get out into the Pride's farm.
I understood a bit more about the nature of my community, and felt that I was too part of it. There are still quite a few farmers around but it seems these are a dying breed as the economics of farming are more and more burdensome, especially in this type of Greenbelt area that is in such demand for residential property. I discovered that alot of the farmland is now used by Equestrian businesses these days. Yes, it's pretty horsey round here. Lots of dog walkers too.
I also understood that we are in a 3 km 'Protection Zone' which has severe restrictions on moving livestock. Then you have a 'Surveillance Zone' which is a bit bigger and has less restrictions.
So, they've now closed the footpaths. I have to walk the dog in the village. Today, on my walk, I saw the Village Hall had been vandalised. Some neer-do-wells had smashed a load of windows and caused a lot of damage. Memories of high crime Lambeth came to me. So, we aren't entirely immune down here.
More about the Farmers in The Guardian. Not sure the Village Hall break-in will get into the Nationals.