Shut eye (best of)
Los Osos, Calif.
My mother told me never to talk to strange men and I should have listened to her. But when a university professor and I got into a discussion and he told me that I could make more money by weaning my calves at home I made the mistake of listening to him. From experience I can tell you that professor never had to listen to 100 cows bawling their brains out right next to his bedroom window. That is the reason that auction markets were invented … to reduce noise pollution by putting a great deal of distance between bawling cows and their snot-nosed babies.
Studies by the Occupational Safety and Health Association have shown that the noise made by a cow calling for her just-weaned calf is the equivalent of listening to a heavy metal band for three hours with headphones on. Exposure to just one cow and calf for more than 3 minutes can lead to impaired hearing loss and extreme sleep deprivation. The noise is exceeded only by the sound made by jets and trucks that pass through your average inexpensive motel room and the instructional sounds made by your wife when you are driving.
Needless to say, it was not a Silent Spring around my house. The only good thing about the constant sound of the bawling cows and their babies was that it drowned out the incessant barking of my dog, which has always been a source of EARitation to me.
My problem is that I am a light sleeper. All day long I can tune out all kinds of sounds, just ask my wife. But the minute I hit the mattress I hear everything, even if I have to get a glass and hold it against the motel room wall.
I have purchased all the new high tech products just to get some sleep. I have tried everything from ear plugs to a gadget called a Barker Breaker. It was supposed to stop my dog from barking all night and it only cost $29.98. The Barker Breaker works on the shock principal. All I had to do every time my dog went “arf, arf,” was to hit a button in my bedroom and a small charge of electricity would float through the air sending a message to my dog to, “SHUT UP.” That was the theory anyway. My dog responded immediately with blood curdling howls that woke everyone in the county.
So you can see that weaning my calves was a big mistake. The problem was that on one ranch we leased, the weaning pen was on the north side of the house and the cow pasture was on the south. My bed was directly in the middle of the sound waves. For three days and three nights the bawling bovines kept me awake. Finally on the fourth night the cows turned down the volume for brief periods as they decided to get on with their lives.
Finally, I thought I could get some sleep but just about the time I dozed off the dog started barking. And when her jaws finally got tired a new sound was rattling the room. You see, for three nights I had been waking up my wife every 30 minutes to ask her if she was asleep. And when my wife gets real tired she develops her only disgusting habit. She snores. Admittedly it is not a jet engine kind of snore, more like a Sunday sermon kind of snore. But it is still enough to keep me awake.
And so I laid there playing my usual game. By moving around a lot and making real weird noises I managed to wake her up in hopes of getting back to sleep before she did. But this seldom works. I was getting more and more desperate and then an idea hit me. (Or maybe it was one of my wife’s errant arms.)
I wondered if the Barker Breaker would work on my wife? ❖