Comment: A farm is not a nursing home

It's all right for us. Even though the income from our Worcestershire farm is the same as it was in 1973. Of course, by the same I mean very, very much less; because it's the same number of pounds with the same number of noughts cosying up to them as nearly 30 years ago, not a different amount cleverly adjusted for inflation.

It's all right for us. Even though the income from our Worcestershire farm is the same as it was in 1973. Of course, by the same I mean very, very much less; because it's the same number of pounds with the same number of noughts cosying up to them as nearly 30 years ago, not a different amount cleverly adjusted for inflation.

Costs, meanwhile - the price of a tractor, the wage bill - have risen many hundredfold. You don't need a degree in mathematics to work out what this means. Like most farmers in this country, we're struggling. But every day, now, we think how lucky we are. We're thankful that we don't have any livestock on the farm at present. Unlike Robert Smith, four or five miles up the road, whose sheep had foot and mouth. Last Tuesday, having sent his two youngest children to stay with friends for a couple of days, Mr Smith stood and watched his 3,100 sheep burn. You could see the smoke from here.

People keep asking me why animals infected with foot and mouth have to be slaughtered. Its not a fatal disease, they say: livestock make a full recovery. Well, farmers aren't running nursing homes. These animals are not for decoration. They're meat. The lamb chops you buy came from a little woolly creature only 14 or so weeks old: by the time they've had foot and mouth and been nursed back to health they'd have turned into mutton. It's a similar story with beef: because of BSE it is illegal to slaughter an animal over the age of 30 months. There isn't time to get them well before they get carted off to the abattoir.

Even without animals here, we're not unaffected. There are trivial things, like going stir-crazy because we can't get out for a walk. The only available stroll is along the sodden verge of the main road, but the beleaguered dog-walkers have got there first and the way is thick with excrement. The children - Enid Blyton-style - usually spend much of the weekend making dens in an old barn of ours where a neighbouring farmer stores his hay bales. But because we drive through two infected areas on the school run it would be irresponsible to let them play in the hay.

More seriously, our farm runs alongside a river and we rent out the angling. But no one's allowed to walk across the land, so the fishermen can't get to the water. Every time the phone rings, we think it is going to be the secretary of the angling club, telling us they're not going to pay their rent. The river meadows, meanwhile, are empty. Because these fields are liable to flood, they're not suitable for growing crops and usually at this time of year they'd have sheep grazing on them. A few miles away, ewes and their lambs are literally starving to death in bare fields which have become mud baths. If it weren't for foot and mouth, the RSPCA says it would have prosecuted days ago. But restrictions on the movement of animals mean these sheep have to stay put, while our grass goes uneaten. And you don't get any income from an empty field.

? Cressida Connolly is a novelist and lives on a farm in Worcestershire.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

SThree: Trainee Recuitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn