Now if you thought about the Oregon legislature you might not immediately think about the debate on Daylight Savings time versus Standard Time. But currently that is a discussion being held in Salem. And you also might not think it’s a “hot topic” but it is proving that people have some very strong opinions about what the time on the clock reads when the sun comes up. And I also fall under that category as someone who does care one way or the other.
- It’s not because “I feel tired” two days a year (let’s be honest I have three kids, I am tired all the time)
- It’s not just because I like my late summer evenings (I’m usually in a field until dark anyway)
- It’s not because I personally am a farmer (because as many of you will say in your heads while I’m writing this…”You’re a farmer don’t you just work when it’s light no matter what the time says?!”)
The bills currently moving through the House and the Senate address changing Oregon’s time to year round Daylight Savings time. Which is the time that we are currently on as we “sprung forward” into spring. Currently we are only on Standard Time about four months out of the year, November through mid-March. So why the heck would I be against this? For two reasons.
- My kids safety to school in the dark on a bus for 30 minutes.
- Our employees and their work out in the fields during those months.
So reason number one is a pretty personal one. Our son Hoot will be in all day kindergarten next year and will jump on the bus at the farm around 7:15 and arrive at school at 7:45am. During those four months, that entire trip will be in pitch blackness. Not to mention some of the days the view out the school window would also be dark until almost an hour into the actual school day. And I get that even if we didn’t change he would have days where it wasn’t super bright and sunny while he rode into town for school, but it would be for way less days than if we changed to Daylight Savings through those winter months.
And reason number two…I’m an employer. So as the “farmer” yes my husband and I work often without looking at the clock. But when it comes to the folks who work for us, that’s a different story. Our employees are asked to work 7 days a week often 14-16 hours days all summer. And you know what that does for family time in the summer? It rarely exists. So these winter months are their time to have a set schedule at work. To get off at a reasonable hour, often at the same time as their families so they can have a good quality of life at home. This is important to us. But if we change to DST year round, our employees won’t have the time outside in the orchards pruning. This time will be cut short by an hour, or I will have to ask them to work until 6pm all winter, cutting into that family time. If I don’t have them work until 6pm we will lose about 2-3 weeks of outside time per employee. When it comes to pruning, we are often in the orchards until nuts are forming on the branches, so basically until the time comes when it will do more harm than good to get the job done. I have real concerns over how much time we loose doing our jobs outside during the winter.
And this goes beyond pruning. We also rogue out weeds, spot spray, mouse bait by hand in the fields, all during these winter months.
So there you go, that is why some of us farmers are against this change. And believe me if Washington and California decide to change, that puts us sort of (or literally) in the middle of a time zone, and I understand that we would more than likely be forced to follow suit. But I also think that we need to be conscience of the changes that this will bring to those of us who do work outside year round. There aren’t many of us, but what we bring to this state, not to mention the dinner table, might make some stop to think about it.
I know there are strong feelings on this topic, stronger than I ever would have thought. But feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!