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16 February 2011

Ten Years Past.

During the year of 2001 the foot-and-mouth crisis gripped British agriculture, over 10million sheep and cows were killed trying to stop the spread of it. Cumbria had 843 cases being classed as the worse effected, and had a huge impact of The Lakes being a tourist destination.

Photograph from Toadfish on Flickr
At the time of the outbreak my family lived on a farm in Cumwhinton a small farming community just outside of  Carlisle, time were never easy living on a farm but they managed, my little Sister was studying GCSEs at the time, and although I no longer lived at home I was still connected to it. It was difficult during the outbreaks, at times I couldn't visit home, and my sister had to move into a friends house for the worry she'd end up trapped in the farm when she needed to be concentration on her exams.

We did not get Foot-and-Mouth but it was the end of our farm, there was a complete halt on moving and selling  livestock, but we still had to feed and look after them, and there was no compensation for that. A lot of other farmers were in the same situation, we heard of farmers trying to get the disease just to start again.
I can not imagine the grief the farmers who saw their whole livestock shot and burned went through, your emotional ties to your stock is more than just a stock number and price, you have to really respect the cattle to successfully owe a farm. Living in Cumbria a change of wind and you could smell the death in the air, I think a lot of farmers felt they'd failed their stock, and just never went back to farming.

For us the financial strain was too much to bare, the farm(which we rented but had lived in for 50+years) was given up and then sold to a building company, they turned the farm into a housing estate of which we, nor anyone I know, could afford any of the homes. The other farms in the village have went the same way, or changed business.
The village is no longer a farming community and seems cut off from country life, so many villages have went this way after Foot-and-Mouth, I think it's one of the highest prices of the outbreak.

However one of the things I love about being Cumbrian is that we'll take a bad experience on the chin and turn it around.  
Great Orton Airfield is the resting place for 466,312 carcasses, comprising 448,508 sheep, 12,085 cattle and 5,719 pigs buried between March and the 7th of May 2001 in 26 trenches, the site is now a nature reserve called Watchtree.  
Watchtree provides a range of habitats for many birds,bats, Red Squirrels, toads, newts and small mammals.  As well as providing an education centre of future generations to come and hopefully building back some of the bridges from Town to Country.


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