It is official, I am on calving and lambing time. You can forget about daylight savings or standard time, the real time change in my world is sometime in January when we start lambing.
Really it isn’t just lambing, it is a culmination of all the various holidays from Thanksgiving to Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the disruptions in my normally very regimented schedule. (If you believe I keep a regimented schedule, I have some Northeast Kansas beachfront property for you.) But while I may not be scheduled I am a creature of habit.
The calving and lambing time thing isn’t just about when it gets to be daylight or dark. That is part of it. When you are going out at the crack of dawn to check critters, it does disrupt the normal body clock. Couple that with making yourself stay up late to make the final night check, and the old circadian rhythm takes a beating.
I always stay up to watch the 10 o’clock news, but it becomes a real struggle this time of the year. I do have to admit that there is something relaxing about the walk down to the lambing barn and ewe pens when it is calm, clear and quiet at night. I am just glad I see that tranquility only once a year.
No, the real problem with calving and lambing time is when it comes to which day of the week and even what day of the month it is. When my schedule is normal I know that Sunday is church day, Wednesday is column writing day and Jennifer is home Saturday and Sunday. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are just filler days in between those marker days.
Then starting in November, come the holidays when Jennifer is home on non-weekend days and I have trouble remembering if it is Monday or Saturday. Thanksgiving really throws me off because it is like two weekends back to back.
Then comes the Christmas season and the kids come back from college. Don’t get me wrong, I really look forward to them being home but that really throws my routine into a tailspin. Christmas and New Year’s finish off any semblance normality in my schedule.
Starting the new year, I really have no idea of what day of the week it is. It could be a Thursday or maybe its Saturday. At that point at least I know when Sunday is because we have not messed up any of them by not going to church.
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For most people the routine sets back in when the calendar turns to January. With the hiccup of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the calendar is pretty mundane and boring.
Not for me.
Throw in the American Farm Bureau annual meeting where I am gone from Friday to Wednesday, wiping out a weekend and most importantly a Sunday, and my idea of time is gone.
I have no idea what day of the week it is. Often I then come home to lambing going hard, and not only do I have no idea what day of the week it is, I don’t know what time of the day it is either.
Fortunately, the calendar is pretty much devoid of holidays from mid-January to April. I guess there is spring break, but that will only be an issue for a couple more years and then that will be gone for us. However, in my world I have Farm Bureau meetings that dot my calendar through the month, and just when I think I am getting a grip on what day of the week or time of the day it is, wham, I am gone on a Wednesday and my routine is in a tailspin.
Honestly, I am grateful for all the distractions. I can’t imagine getting through January, February and March by going through the same old, drab routine day after day. It is nice to have things on the calendar to look forward to, to break up the monotony.
Sometimes it works to my benefit, too. Today I thought I needed to get a lamb to the locker plant in the morning and Dad to a doctor appointment in the afternoon. Come to find out that the lamb is due to the butcher tomorrow morning and my schedule isn’t as tight as I thought (well, until tomorrow morning).
Sometimes not having any idea what day it is can lead to little victories. More often it results in a last-minute reminder popping up on my phone and throwing my day into chaos.
I am sure I am not the only one with this problem. I remember giving Dad a hard time when he didn’t know what day of the week it was. At the time I had a town job and you better believe I knew when the days off were. Now I only know what my phone tells me, and often I am surprised when Jennifer doesn’t go to work.
So, for the next couple of months if you could remind me what day of the week and month it is I would appreciate it. Don’t worry about the year. I have that down. It’s 2021, right?
Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension educator for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.