One of the pleasure I get as a stock photographer is the way it takes me to places that I would never ordinarily dream of being, and the way it lets me meet people who I would never normally meet. This week was just one such occasion when I got to meet Charlie and his lady friends. I had a request from one of the stock image libraries I work with for “farmer in a milking shed with cows” and I must confess it was not something I had on file so the only answer was to go out and shoot some new images, but where do you start and who is going to put up with a photographer being a pain in the arse when he is trying to just get on with his daily grind.
This is where local knowledge and contacts pay off, and I was able to get to a farm where they milk at a ‘sensible’ hour (from my point of view) to cope with school visits etc. charlie told me that he normally starts his working day at 3.30 a.m. ready for the first milking, but luckily for me he does a second milking of his 100+ herd of Holsteins early afternoon, and I could slot in neatly to that timetable without causing any major hassle.
The cows know the routine precisely, and were waiting at the gate to be let in bang on time, walking to their allotted places with udders swinging and no sounds of protest. Charlie went about his work in the methodical way that a man does when he has stuck to the same routine for years, working 11 days out of every fourteen. First cleansing and then examining before attaching the automatic milking ‘teats’ to begin the chain that brings me my daily pinta (or litre as it now has to be called!)
At the appropriate time the teats fell away (occasionally helped by a rear hoof) and the next fifteen were lead in to replace their colleagues who ambled back to the grazing which will produce the next mornings glass full of the white stuff.
Sadly, because of the fear of animal rights activists, I cannot identify where I was working (or maybe they are afraid of a queue of other photographers!) but I am very grateful to Charlie (and his boss Graham) for putting up with me and letting me get the shots I needed, and I suppose I better thank Charlies ladies as well. Charlie was the sort of down-to-earth guy who I could quite happily sit and have a pint with any day, so if you are up for it Charlie give me a ring and the drinks are on me!