Jennifer Brooks
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We lost an hour this week. The clocks are different now.

You try telling the cows that.

"Cows are a creature of habit. They want the same thing, every day. That's what they thrive on," said Dan Glessing, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau and a dairy farmer who gave 75 cows an unwelcome early wakeup call on Sunday. Daylight saving time had come round again.

As the barn lights flicked on an hour earlier than usual, some of the cows tried to lie down again. They knew milking time and this wasn't it.

Cows have just as much of a mental clock as we do, Glessing said, so a time change "really messes with them."

"They're not sure what's going on," he said. "They're not quite used to getting up this early."

Cows. They're just like us.

Daylight saving time dawned bright and terrible over America this week, bringing with it the usual uptick in heart attacks, strokes, traffic accidents, and think pieces about why we do this to ourselves twice a year.

Dr. Michael Howell, division director of sleep medicine at the University of Minnesota Department of Neurology, watched the time change wreak its biannual havoc this week; compounding the misery of sleep-starved teens, swing-shift workers, parents of young children, and anyone else who doesn't spring bright-eyed out of bed at the crack of dawn.

Every living organism has a biological clock, from cyanobacteria floating in the ocean to the planet's greatest sprinter, Usain Bolt, who could run faster at 4 p.m. than 10 a.m. Messing with the clock on the wall does the biological clock no favors.

The small comfort Howell can offer is that most of our internal clocks will adjust to the new reality this week. Maybe leaving us with a bit more compassion for the millions of our neighbors who suffer chronic sleep disorders.

Even among weary farmers, there's no consensus about keeping or scrapping the time change.

Glessing and the Minnesota Farm Bureau have taken no official policy stance on the issue. Some members appreciate the hour of daylight they gained in the afternoon. Some are too tired to notice.

Last year, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate voted to stop messing with the clocks and put the nation on permanent daylight saving time. The bill never made it through the House, but if the federal government ever scraps the time change, Minnesota has laws on the books to follow suit.

Permanent daylight saving time would mean waiting until nearly 9 a.m. to see the sun rise on the darkest, coldest days of winter. Then again, we'd never see another 4:30 p.m. sunset. Pick your poison.

Most of us had Sunday to rest up and reconcile to the time change. But there are no days off on a dairy farm, so Glessing set the alarm.

Usually he doesn't need one. But when 4:20 a.m. suddenly turned into 5:20 a.m., he needed all the help he could get.

By midweek, he and the herd were adjusting to daylight saving time. Until November, when the clocks change on them again.

"An alarm clock. That's the only thing that helps," he said. "Get yourself up and get after it."