Carmelle Druchniak

Myth Busting: Daylight Saving Time

We’re losing an hour of sleep soon, at least for everyone outside Hawaii and Arizona.

Yes, we’ll all set our clocks forward Sunday, March 11–but why? Daylight Saving Time (DST) or “summer time” is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour so that evening daylight lasts an hour longer, while sacrificing normal sunrise times. We then revert to standard time on the first Sunday in November.

The common belief that DST was designed to help farmers is far from factual, say many sources.

Back when it was first implemented, the lost hour of morning light meant crop farmers had less morning light for harvesting. Also, it can be a bit of a headache for dairy farmers.

Dairy farmers strive to keep things as consistent as possible for their cows. Cows are creatures of habit and don’t like change. Even an hour can throw them out of their comfort zone.

Cows like routine. which is why several dairy farms try to gradually change the milking and feeding times for their cows. Instead of an hour in a single day, the cows’ schedule is altered in 30-minute increments over two days.

DST was first proposed by William Willett to the British Parliament in 1907 as a way to take full advantage of the daylight. Germany became the first country to implement it, and the United States adopted DST 10 years later when we entered World War I.

Fans of DST claim the ‘extra’ hour of light at the end of the day makes us more productive, helps us get more Vitamin D, and a myriad of other benefits. It saves energy, say some, but that’s hard to measure. Most benefits are myth, say experts.

So why does everyone think farmers are DTS Fans? According to Tufts University Professor Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Times, farmers raised such fuss against DST, “they became associated into the popular image of daylight-saving and it got inverted on them. It was just bad luck.”

PS — Guess what time we’re on for eight months of the year? Daylight savings time, which means “standard” time is anything but. Go figure!

Carmelle Druchniak

Carmelle Druchniak, part of the Must Be The Milk Team, looks for any excuse to regularly drop in on New England dairy farmers  — and spend quality time with a cow or two.