Rick Landesberg | Gallery

The Bleating Edge

Yoked goat, Haiti, 2006

In 2006, I was invited to Haiti to research a book commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, which serves the 300,000 people of the rural Artibonite Valley. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, beset by AIDS, tuberculosis and hunger, and the Artibonite Valley is the poorest region in Haiti. Most of the people live without electricity or running water, and yet despite news reports we receive of violence in Haiti, I found them to be exceptionally warm and dignified.

Walking through a village, my host and I came across this goat with an eccentric device around its neck. Clunky but effective, the wood yoke prevented the freely wandering animal from walking through the openings in fences (made from the cactus-like brambles that are visible behind it) and into yards and houses. As is so often the case with indigenous design, the yoke’s unexpected form and simple logic caught me by surprise.

Posted in: Photography, Product Design

Comments [4]

The international symbol of anarchy being used to augment fences built by the Man. Oh the ignominy!
Matthew Platte

Too bad it's not a pentagram.
Eddie Jacobson

Serving as a US Peace Corps Volunteer (2007-2009) in The Gambia, West Africa I was often disturbed by the fact that free-range cattle, goats, and sheep would destroy our attempts to make kitchen-gardens and tree nurseries. No matter how impenetrable one tried to make fences of brambles, thorny trees, and sticks, the ruminates caused massive destruction. Mid-way through my service I traveled to nearby Guinea where I saw many creatures yoked as shown above and was excited by the possibilities. Unfortunately, upon returning to The Gambia, I was unable to convince the community members to engage in these safeguards. Too often, those responsible for restraining their livestock were unresponsive to the needs of their fellow community members.
Matthew Traucht

While in Ireland last year, we observed a common practice of tying two goats together--we assumed for the same purpose. Usually a collar on each goat was connected by a chain. It was not nearly as visually interesting as this!
Maureen Scanlon

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