1. Presumably, Joyce would beat Natalie with that cane she’s holding. No idea why . . . maybe those are Joyce’s cows that Natalie is attempting to milk, thereby stealing the milk? That’s all I have to offer (for once).

  2. If milking were a competitive business the each diary maid would have a quota to meet and compete with each other to surpass. Joyce is rather cut-throat and engages what she refers to as the “cane of pain” with which she’ll beat any one who tries to milk in her region

  3. Cows like routine. They want to be milked at the same times each day, by the same person I figure Joyce is a sister or cousin or something, a bully of the first water, who enjoys making Natalie beg for mercy.

  4. I have seen automated milking stations on TV. The cows go in when they want to be milked and the system takes care of the situation. No humans involved for the most part.

  5. I see no evidence of any milking going on, however, the one maid can’t seem to get off her cell phone to mind the cows like she’s supposed to — we have the same problem with the lifeguards at our building’s pool…

  6. Not only is there no milking going on, Natalie has a woven basket, not a bucket. For that matter, Joyce’s “cane” is probably a goad (a pointy stick used to drive cattle or other livestock). The actual title of the piece is “Resting in the Field.”

    As for a joke, I suppose the idea is that Joyce doesn’t appreciate Natalie’s lollygagging and is about to turn her stick (which she used to drive the cattle out to this section of pasture for grazing) to drive Natalie back to the barn to finish the milking, There isn’t much detail in Joyce’s face, but you can read her expression as rather dour.

    I’m not sure why these two apparently Dutch women are in a rolling field with Ayrshire cattle. A flat pasture with Holstein-Friesian cattle would seem more fitting. Or if they are British, I’m not sure why they are wearing Dutch wooden shoes. So I guess that makes this either “Cattle I don’t Understand” or “Clogs I Don’t Understand.”

  7. Ah… French wooden shoes. And given the name of the artist, that makes perfect sense. And it turns out that there are two French breeds of dairy cattle that resemble Ayrshires: the Montbéliarde and the Abondance.

  8. There’s no milking going on because the seated milkmaid has been unable to lead any cows to the barn. who knew there was somebody playing defense?

  9. Yes, “sabots”. I had heard that the word “sabotage” stemmed from French workers throwing sabots into machinery, but the etymologies in the dictionaries don’t support that. It is related to sabots, but has to do with walking noisily or something along those lines.

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