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Tears of Jessica, 8, as pet cow Caroline is caught in the slaughter; My Foot And Mouth Diary.

FARMER'S daughter Jessica Cleminson wrote a tear-stained diary of despair as her pet cow was destroyed in the foot and mouth cull.

Jessica, eight, used to ride around the fields near her parents' farm on the back of Caroline, a 16-year-old Charolais.

She visited the tame beast every day and was delighted when her father Stephen told her at the end of last week that she was having a calf.

On Friday, Caroline wrote in her diary: "My favourite cow Caroline is having a calf, or maybe twin calves."

But the next day her delight had turned to devastation as she discovered Caroline had to be killed.

Tears poured down her face and splashed on to the page as Jessica wrote: "Dear Diary, We have foot and mouth. Caroline has to be ... I can't even say it ... she has to be ... with her baby inside. Please Lord, how come you did this to us."

She rings the smudges on the paper in black felt-tip and scribbles beside them "my tears".

Her mother Susan, 44, found Jessica's diary hidden under her bed on Monday, with every detail of the harrowing weekend written down.

Jessica and her sister Laura, 13, had grown up with Caroline on New Hummerbeck Farm, West Auckland, County Durham.

The girls would spend hours in the pasture nearest the farm stroking Caroline and riding on her back.

Unlike most cattle, the affectionate animal enjoyed human company.

Jessica's happy life was thrown into turmoil on Good Friday when suspicion fell on New Hummerbeck.

A neighbour's farm had been struck and Jessica's father had seen symptoms in his own animals.

On Friday, just after logging the news of Caroline's pregnancy, Jessica wrote: "Dear Diary, today I found out we're in category D and that is bad. That means I can't leave the house much and it isn't fair."

On Saturday, more ministry vets arrived and confirmed that all the cattle on the farm would have to be slaughtered.

Jessica and Laura were allowed a special pass to leave the farm while the gruesome business was carried out. It was while they were away that Mrs Cleminson discovered the diary.

Dad Stephen Cleminson, 43, said: "Jessica has always written her feelings down, she is that kind of little girl.

"My wife found the diary under the bed after we heard we had been infected.

"It was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever seen and very hard to read.

"It is only when you see these things through the eyes of a child that you realise how terrible they really are.

"Jessica is inconsolable at the moment, Caroline meant everything to her. She is struggling to understand why all this had to happen."

The Cleminsons had 162 Charolais, Limousin and Freisian cattle and 18 pigs on their farm.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 18, 2001
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