Are you old enough to remember Chicago? No, not the play or the movie. I’m talking about the 70’s band with the peppy brass section. I’m not a big fan of brass sections (sorry, Gustav Mahler) but twice a year, this song fixes itself into my head and becomes only one on a long list of irritations caused by Daylight Savings Time and its evil autumn twin who popped up when we jogged an hour backwards last weekend.
I don’t know why Ben Franklin had an obsession for messing with other people’s schedules. In addition to lecturing us about “early to bed and early to rise”, he is attributed with the not-so-bright idea of Daylight Savings Time, which Lyndon Johnson federally mandated into our lives in the U.S. in 1966.
Ben’s fondness for adages apparently did not extend to the one about “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. And Johnson had apparently never heard of “leave well enough alone”. Daylight Savings Time was supposed to be about saving energy, but studies conducted after hold-out state Indiana (my beloved home state…always proud to be last) succumbed in 2006 proved that concept to be a fallacy.
According to the study, instituting Daylight Savings Time actually cost the state an extra $8.6 million annually.
The cost to most of us is better measured in that “whaaa?” state of bewilderment that can last a few days, or, in my case, until “Spring Forward” weekend in April when an additional layer of confusion ensues. I’m not getting old, it’s just years worth of time changes that have addled my brain.
But for others, the deleterious effects of the time change go beyond brain fog. More car accidents. A 10% uptick in heart attacks. Lower productivity.
Thank goodness for chickens. They don’t wear watches. Their body clocks greet the seasons sensibly: clucking begins at first morning light and however far they have foraged come late afternoon, they will have put themselves away in the coop by the time the sun dips low in the western sky. And to them, everything has a season. After a three-month molt break, Coco has begun to grace us again with her lovely celadon eggs.
Some people’s hens begin laying within a few weeks of their annual molts, but my ladies don’t like to be rushed. Pippa molted mid-summer and still cannot be bothered to lay an egg. And Luna has laid an egg exactly never.
In general, hens lay in the fall and winter months when there are fewer hours of daylight to stimulate the hen’s reproductive cues. Commercial operations and determined flock keepers override the birds’ natural rhythms by providing artificial light to boost egg production.
The short run benefit of artificial light means more eggs for winter breakfasts. The long run downside is that many flock keepers believe it is bad for the hens’ overall health. Kind of like Daylight Savings Time, right?
The web site Quartz (an off-shoot of The Atlantic, I believe) has advanced a proposal for ending the use of Daylight Savings Time and compressing the United States’ time zones from three to two.
In the article, author Allison Schrager makes the rather horrifying observation that
“Americans’ schedules are determined by television more than daylight. That suggests in effect, Americans already live on two time zones.”
My head, already spinning from the recent time change, positively begins to reel when trying to consider that our clocks might one day be formatted to align with Two And A Half Men or The Real Housewives of…Anywhere. But I suppose they might argue that it makes as much sense as Daylight Savings Time.
I wonder what the chickens would think?