Sunday, 23 September 2007

Unclean, unclean

Listening to: Pretty in Pink (Psychedelic Furs)
Watching: Australia v Fiji
Cooking: roast pork, spuds, all the rest

There are times when you can't help feeling that it's all your fault, even when you know very well it isn't.

News from Suffolk that a case of blue tongue virus has been found - the first in the UK - has sparked off a new round of panic in newsrooms up and down the country.

So, since I moved to Orkney in July and tried to restyle myself as a farmer, the UK industry has been hit by a series of foot-and-mouth outbreaks in Surrey and now this. Coincidence? I'm not sure.

Blue tongue has been expected here for a long time and it isn't anywhere near as serious as foot and mouth. It isn't contagious and animals do eventually recover. It's carried by insects that - from our point of view here in the relatively cold and very windy Orkneys - are unlikely to make it this far north.

Defra in England and Wales and Seerad in Scotland have contingency plans that are similar, but not as drastic as those for foot and mouth - that's only responsible from those who ought to be looking after an industry that has had its fair share of health issues over the years.

The news that the blue tongue outbreak is being investigated at Pirbright does not inspire confidence, however. Nor does the over-the-top reporting of the outbreak by broadcasters today, many of who would be hard-pushed to tell a cow from a kangaroo. (Let's face it, the BBC's output on countryside issues is laughable, amounting pretty much to The Archers and the pathetic Countryfile. Farming Today is stuck away in the early hours of the morning).

Anyway, the reason I'm ranting a bit is that I phoned the Seerad helpline today and the prospect of us getting any pigs on the croft are disappearing faster than you can say "pass me the baseball bat, I'm off to Pirbright."

The very nice lady at the other end of the line said that the situation in Surrey (700 miles away, remember) meant that it was unlikely that the ban on transporting animals from mainland UK to the islands was unlikely to be lifted any time soon.

Which leaves us pigless for now and pretty fed up about it. Couldn't help but feel a twinge of jealousy when I passed a butcher's shop in Kirkwall yesterday selling pork from the neighbouring island of Sanday. There's a small herd of Berkshires there. We're having a bit tonight.

3 comments:

I, like the view said...

couldn't you get some shipped over from Norway? is that a silly question? do they have pigs in Norway? is that a silly question?

Malc said...

I like the way you're thinking, but there's no regular ferry/cargo transport from Norway - strange really. Chartering a boat for four little pigs might be a bit expensive, I reckon.

I, like the view said...

but hurrah for local and available piglets!