Living on farm time

I have to agree with the Facebook memes I have been seeing lately. One of them is an image of a Native American saying how only the government would cut off one end of a blanket, sew it to the other end, and declare the creation of a longer blanket.   Another popular post is a mock movie trailer, a dramatic depiction of an apocalyptic event—the twice-yearly turning of the clocks.


I hate changing the clocks forward and back every spring and fall. It’s such an annoyance, and serves no real purpose that I can see.  There may have been some point to it back in the 1970s when it was widely adopted in response to the energy crisis, but even that seems like a bit of a stretch to me.  And even if it were a valid reason then, I wonder if it remains so.

According to Wikipedia, Daylight Saving Time has been “historically [favored by] retailing, sports, and tourism interests.”

According to the empty bellies that look to me for sustenance, it is not favored by animals. On the morning after we fall back an hour, my dog is ready for her customary 5:30 A.M. breakfast when our clocks read just 4:30. And the goat that was ready to be milked at eight will not appreciate having to wait an extra hour for her udder to be emptied and her grain dish filled.

If The Mister and I were purely homesteaders, living solely on the land, it wouldn’t matter to us that the clocks were changing, any more than it matters to our animals.   We could change them, or not, and just carry on with feeding our animals and doing farm chores according to daylight. We’d wake at first light and feed the dog while the wood stove is heating up and the coffee is brewing, head for the barn for milking after our morning walk, and do evening chores at dusk.

If we were both strictly work-outside-the-home people, with indoor clocks to punch and a home life filled with electric lights and electronic devices, the time change probably wouldn’t affect us one way or the other then, either.   We used to live like that, and the adjustment was minimal.

It’s the combination of the two that gets us all bollixed up.  Having one foot in the world that runs on the rhythms of natural light and the other in the world of human-made timepieces, we sometimes get pulled in opposite directions. The Mister works at his full-time job and spends time on the farm as well. I stay home, but I still need to plan my day around reasonable suppertimes and spouse support.

For the next few weeks, homestead chores will change significantly. For the first time since September, it will be light enough in the mornings that The Mister can run out and spring the chickens from their houses before he leaves for work, like he does all summer.   But that will last only for a few weeks. Darkness descends upon both ends of the workday quickly this time of year.

Meanwhile, his days of participating in evening chores are over. Except for weekends, he won’t lay eyes on a goat until sometime in February.

I’ll have to shake up my morning routine a bit.   When The Mister pulls out of the driveway at quarter past six, it will be time for me to swing into action. No more luxurious lounging around with a cup of coffee and reading the paper online until it gets light out. I won’t want to keep the goat waiting too much past her customary time. The rule of having animals is that their needs always come first, so if there comes a choice between her or me being inconvenienced, she wins.

In the meantime, we will manage to get all of our clocks reset and will try to get our brains in sync with the real time too. I expect to walk around for a few days in a state of confusion, wondering what time it is really, and how that compares to what time the animals think it is, and whether it is lighter or darker at this very moment than it was at this time yesterday.

One thing I am not confused about is the length of the day. No matter what the clock says when the sun comes up or night falls, the amount of hours in between is ruled by a force greater than the numbers on a timepiece.  The government can slice off an hour on one end and add it to the other and call it a longer day if they want to, but those of us paying attention to goats and Facebook know better.

Kathy Bernier

About Kathy Bernier

Backyard farming since 2007--raising our own, saving up for hard times, rejecting consumerism, and hugging the land.