Milk and honey, Rhonda and Pammy the house cows

The first few days of the camp we stayed at the outstation, where we learnt a bit about Ian and Paola and Karl’s low impact alternative to the usual pastoral operation here in the desert uplands. We saw the stark contrast on the boundary fence-lines; Bimblebox is rich in a diversity of plants and animals, whilst the neighbouring lands appear as impoverished monocultures of introduced buffel grass, a weed in natural ecosystems. After landclearing, the eucalypts regenerate, covering paddocks in a blanket of protective growth that graziers call “woody weeds”. The next line of attack is the so-called blade ploughing, which cuts the lignotubers of the eucalypts below the ground. We followed Sonja as she hand-milked two of the cows for the artists camp, and using a hydrophone we listen in on the intimate sounds of the cow Rhonda’s complex digestive system. The hydrophone is a contact microphone, useful for listening underwater, and on the body it is like a stethoscope, revealing the sounds of heartbeat and digestion. Fluid movements within bodies and landscapes indicate health or disease.  Click the play button to listen.

suckling calf

The house cow suckles her calf before she gives some of her milk to the humans.

Sonya milking
Sonya milking RhondaAlison holds the hydrophone on Rhonda’s belly as she eats lucerne hay, Boyd recording from beyond the rails.

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