FOOT-and-mouth continued to claim more victims in Weardale and Teesdale this week.

The Tallentire family of Low Lands Farm, near Cockfield, was one. They were taking one day at a time since foot-and-mouth was confirmed at their premises on Sunday.

"We have seen it all around us and have been waiting for it to come," said Mrs Alison Tallentire. "It got to a point when it was when rather than if."

Mrs Tallentire and her husband Keith saw 190 cattle and 430 sheep and lambs culled on Tuesday at the farm started by his grandfather and currently shared with his mother.

"We have been greatly heartened by all the support we have received since the news was confirmed," she added. "They say community spirit is dead, but that is not true. Our phone has never stopped all day with our friends and neighbours, some in the same boat, all offering support and practical help." She also paid tribute to MAFF vets and the army.

The couple, who have farmed there for 12 years, have two children - Oliver aged nine, and Abigail seven. "They are old enough to understand what is going on," said Mrs Tallentire. "They have seen the stories on the news and realise we have become victims."

The couple have two holiday cottages on the site, reached by a tarmacadam road, and they are pleased to have income from those to fall back on once they are given the all-clear to let them. She had nothing but praise for the people who had booked to stay.

"When they keep ringing up I think it is to cancel. But they have been merely telling us they have seen our area on the news and we are in their thoughts. Those who have booked with us are still planning to come, although new bookings have dried up a bit. Everyone has been so kind."

Another farm to be hit was the award-winning Softley Farm at Butterknowle, run by Mr George Thompson and his son, Andrew. His other son John runs several hundred sheep at the neighbouring Lonton Hill farm at Woodland.

Earlier in the year the men were featured in the D&S Times after winning the Durham grassland society silage competition and coming runners-up in the Northern region heat. But success turned to tragedy on Sunday when foot-and-mouth was confirmed, leading to the slaughter of their dairy herd.

Down the road at Buckshead Farm, Evenwood, Brian and Susan Finch have lost 113 cattle and 130 wintered in sheep.

Mrs Finch said they had first noticed signs of foot-and-mouth in the sheep on Sunday and it was confirmed on Monday. Their cattle, although not infected, had had to be slaughtered too as they were deemed to have been in contact with the infected sheep. The animals were burnt on Wednesday.

Mrs Finch was mystified as to how the disease had reached the farm as they had made themselves virtual prisoners since the outbreak began. The family has lost its livelihood and Mrs Finch was not sure what route to take next. They probably would not be able to do their usual contract work during the summer.

She was also distressed that her neighbour, Mr S Harris, whose Evenfield Farm is contiguous to two infected ones, had seen his stock culled even though they were disease-free.

There was further upset for Mr Doug Forster of Low Houselop Farm near Tow Law, whose stock is due to be dug up today after it emerged that their burial in a quarry three weeks ago has put a spring water supply at his farm at risk.

Mr Forster said the Environment Agency had sent a map with an X marking the spot where the cattle were put. "They should never have been buried there in the first place. There are springs all over this land, but nobody can overrule the agency," he added.

Now the 250 cattle and 800 sheep will be taken away and the quarry decontaminated and levelled. "But I can't say enough about the Maff vets and contractors, they have been very compassionate."

In February Mr Forster featured in the D&S Times when he sent 20 of his French Bazadaise bullocks to Harper Adams agricultural college for performance test trials on the breed.

But he will have to re-buy pedigree ones once the crisis is over, as he rears sucklers and the bullocks had gone to be fattened so would be no use to him if he got them back