Well, as I sit down to write this article the Bluetongue saga continues to rage on in East Kent while the rest of the country continues to trade as per normal. I will try not to rant, but it really is making our blood boil at the moment.

The Ministry came in force to blood test all of our cows at home. It’s now two weeks on and we haven’t heard a word; apparently no news is good news, so we can assume all our cows have tested negative, but it would have been good to have been told for sure. Despite this, restrictions remain in place and the laborious process of applying for licences for cattle/sheep to travel anywhere is a long-winded one. We can only hope that normal trading conditions will be allowed soon.

We have now been shut down for approximately 10 weeks or more and we have had pedigree sales fall through due to the restrictions, as well as being unable to sell cull cows as the abattoirs are either not licensed or cannot handle the volume.  While these assets remain on farm, being unable to proceed with the sales has a marked effect on business cashflow. The cost of continually feeding the extra cows that we would otherwise have sold is increasing day by day.

While the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and DEFRA staff say they have every sympathy with us, that unfortunately doesn’t pay the additional bills that are being incurred on a daily basis due to being in a temporary control zone (TCZ). Having spent many hours on the telephone or emailing them, I know the staff are trying their very best to enable us to move livestock under licence.

I know we are not the only ones affected by these restrictions and I appreciate the reasons for them, but I feel it rather unfair that the small minority of farmers in the TCZ should shoulder the financial impact of these restrictions without any assistance, as essentially we are protecting the rest of the country.

I have emailed our local MP but as yet have not had any response.

Frustratingly we are essentially a “clear” holding but must still comply with all the legislation. We are assured that the majority of blood testing has been completed, but no further guidance has been issued, nor have any restrictions been lifted or numbers publicised.

I am sure that as and when the time comes we will be informed, but I fear that if they do not lift the restrictions in the next few weeks, we could be under this TCZ for a further 12 months or more.

Changing the subject completely… I seem to struggle with what to cook for the family on most nights except on a Sunday, which is always a family roast dinner in the evening.

I was searching for some inspiration and stumbled across a website designed by farmer’s wife Milly Fyfe to help and provide tasty homemade recipes using seasonal ingredients. The recipes are generally ‘no fuss’, meaning they are quick to prepare or use honest, in-season whole ingredients. It has certainly been a game changer for me. I love it. www.nofussmealsforbusyparents.com. Until next time stay safe.