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COUNTY AGENT GUY

Time troubles

October 13, 2017
By JERRY NELSON , Farm News

Our society is about to undergo a seismic shift. This transformation will affect every man, woman and child and will cause untold amounts of anguish.

No, I'm not talking about the latest iPhone updates. What I mean is the annual autumnal end of Daylight Saving Time.

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin, founding father and prominent Parisian party animal, awoke at the crack of noon with a thundering hangover. Glancing around at his disheveled digs, he noticed that the previous night's activities had reduced a large number of his candles into waxen stalactites.

Ben ruminated upon how much wax had gone up in smoke the night before. He dashed off a satirical piece about this topic and one of his pals published it in a Paris newspaper.

Years later, some folks who had no sense of humor came into power. They didn't see that Ben's tongue had been in his cheek and took his comedic musings as received wisdom.

What began as a joke became Daylight Saving Time. It was as if a CEO had watched hours of "Roadrunner" cartoons and decided to hire Wile E. Coyote as the Vice President of Strategic Planning for Procuring Supersonic Land-based Avians.

One Sunday morning many years ago, my wife and I decided to go to church. We hustled through our morning chores, put on our Sunday duds and drove into town. When we arrived, we were shocked to discover that the church's parking lot was completely empty. Had we lost track of our days? Was it actually Monday?

Nope. It dawned on us that Daylight Saving Time had ended at 2:00 that morning, a landmark event that we had missed while we slept. This was embarrassing, but at least we got our choice of pews.

Changing your clocks during the "spring forward" and "fall back" periods can be a pain in the patoot. In the B.D. era - Before Digital - adjusting a clock meant finding a small peg hidden somewhere on the gizmo and turning the peg until the clock's hands spun around to the desired position. Sadly, this simple yet dependable system was rendered obsolete by the arrival of the digital age.

Altering the time on a clock became the sort of thing that could only be done by someone who holds a Ph.D. in nuclear physics. A digital clock's buttons have to be pressed in a very specific order. Make a mistake and you have to start over. Or maybe you'll launch an intercontinental ballistic missile. Nobody really knows.

Yes, digital clocks come with instruction manuals. But after struggling to read their indecipherable engineer-speak, these manuals generally become liners for gerbil cages.

My wife and I had the good fortune of having kids who were born at the dawn of the digital age. By the time they were four, our boys had mastered all things digital. Their tiny fingers could accomplish in mere seconds something that would have induced hair-ripping levels of frustration for their parents.

When I was dairy farming, people often asked how I switched my cows to Daylight Saving Time and back again. I explained that adjusting the herd's milking times was an operation that had to be conducted with the utmost care. Cows are creatures of habit; they abhor abrupt changes.

The best method, I told folks, was to hang a large clock high on a barn wall where all the cows could see it. If you have Holsteins, you will need to use an analog clock. I've heard that Jerseys are fine with digital clocks as long as its numbers are a bright cherry red.

Every day, I would change the clock's time by a few minutes. Cows, being prey animals, are naturally suspicious of anything unusual. I had no choice but to use stealth.

I would erect a ladder near the clock and pretend that I was cleaning its face or changing a light bulb. When none of the cows were looking, I would sneak the minute hand forward a couple of notches.

Setting the time back in the autumn was comparatively easy. I simply had to use a little sleight of hand to unplug the clock as I walked past its electrical outlet. I would then plug it back in a few minutes later.

These techniques enabled me to reset my herd's milking times in only a few weeks. The cows remained blissfully ignorant of the changes, so I was happy too. I'm just lucky that they didn't have access to an independent time source such as cell phones or the jig would have been up.

One final note: if you would believe a whopper about Holsteins watching clocks, you probably shouldn't be a CEO.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

 
 

 

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