Goat Milking: from animal to object

SamanthaSweeting_milkingBramble  Last Tuesday, I milked Bramble the goat. She is still breastfeeding Hazel, her 7 week old kid, but as she is a rare breed Golden Guernsey raised for high milk yield, she produces a surplus. This excess milk needs to be drained daily for her comfort. It is a curious activity.

SamanthaSweeting_goatmilkSamanthaSweeting_GoatMilkStand2SamanthaSweeting_UdderWipesSamanthaSweeting_DemeterBrambleHazel

Unpasteurised goat milk has a host of health giving properties. For a start, it’s composition is relatively close to human milk. This in particular interests me.

800px-Romulus-RemusSome years ago, I milked a sheep, spraying the frothy liquid straight into my mouth like a warm milkshake. And now, drinking Bramble’s milk, I am reminded of that moment. I hear the sound of the mechanical milk pump beating out its pulse. But I am older and the  hot milk hits me with a pang of emotion; comforting and claustrophobic. Joyful and melancholic. Its richness overwhelms me.

The bulk of my research over the past 7 years has been concerned with inter-species dialogues and nurture; there is a lot I can write about milk. For the moment, however, I want to direct my focus to the milk stand.

SamanthaSweeting_GoatMilkStand1

 

 

 

Today, I started researching goat milking stands and found a world of architectural oddities.

1 Melissa_Thomas-210 CCStand9 DIY-Wood-Goat-Milking-Stand11 14559_A 3 061-176-01-im1 4 milkstand-004-12 Goat_Milking_Stand_2OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 6 04-18-09023copy7 milkstand 8 goat-milking-stand10 foldstd

Friedrich Nagler in  World of Interiors April 2013 Photographs by Jan BaldwinThey make me think of Friedrich Nagler‘s little animal sculptures, made with reclaimed bits of metal, nuts, bolts, old taps, and so on.

I imagine a Jan Svankmajer stop-motion animation, where the milking stands come to life, running around the stable, eating hay and bleating.

Taken aside and photographed as objects of interest, they take on a gravitas unbelied by their banal utilitarian design. The inanimate object replaces the animal.

1.SamanthaSweeting_ZSLpony  2._SamanthaSweeeting_RockingHorse

1. Taken in the playground at ZSL London Zoo.
2. My childhood miniature rocking horse.