Introducing The CowCam

Uschi, scratching herself on the leg, takes a picture of her udder. Fat Lola, who is mainly interested in eating, keeps her head down, which means the photos she takes are close-ups of grass blades.

Only old Frida shows considerably more artistic talent, because she looks around while chewing her cud and takes in the mountainous Swiss landscape. Her sharp-focused shots are of meadows and Alpine peaks, clouds, valleys and wild flowers.

"Frida is our star photographer," Christoph Sigrist, 59, tells Die Welt. It was seven years ago that the Swiss farmer from the half-canton of Baselland first mounted a self-releasing digital camera in a cowbell through which he'd bored a hole.

What began as a gag grew into a successful art project. Sigrist posted the pictures his cows shot on his website, and he has just published the most interesting shots in an entertaining book called Cowcam.

What do the animals find interesting? The farmer's arrival. Flowers growing beyond the meadow fence. The milking stool. And because cows are sociable, they take many pictures of one another.

Sigrist put his cowcam together himself, using a Mr. Lee Catcam from the United States. It has an individually programmable release mechanism and was originally invented for use by cats. It is the only digital camera that self-releases at intervals that can go for an entire day without a battery change.
Slightly larger than a matchbox, it can take up to 120 pictures per day, one every seven to 10 minutes. Sigrist removes the camera-bells from the animals at night.

After a couple years of equipping his own dairy cows with camera bells, Sigrist found that animals' photo subjects were becoming repetitive. "Cows are creatures of habit," he says. "They have their favorite places where they lie down every day for a snooze."

So he began sending other farmers across Switzerland camera-equipped bells. They in turn hung the bells on their favorite cows and sent the chips back to Sigrist, who found that about every tenth shot was interesting. He has since published some 20,000 cowcam photos, and plans to continue in 2015.

The only shots he can't publish are those the cows take of walkers because doing so would violate privacy rights.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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