Many years ago, I lived in a Baltimore row house for a short time. In an effort to save some money, a few friends and I rented a recently renovated three-bedroom home in a historic neighborhood. The first floor contained a kitchen, living room and guest bathroom that we would all share, the second floor had two bedrooms and a large bathroom and the third floor was advertised as a “loft”. It was quite large but, unfortunately, the only way to get up to it was via a spiral staircase.
It was impossible to move a standard mattress into the space so I, honestly, thought that I was a genius when I decided to haul a waterbed one board at a time, up that dangerous staircase to be assembled and filled from a garden hose pulled in through a window. Once it was filled we determined that it, probably, was far too heavy for the old rafters and cross-beams to support the weight. The entire time that I lived there, my roommates went to bed each night wondering if they would wake up wet the next morning.
Eventually, long after I’d moved away, waterbeds became a quaint and uncomfortable remembrance of a time gone by.
Now waterbeds appear to be making a comeback, but not for use as traditional bedroom furniture. They’re being bought for cows! A new trend in American cattle-raising is leading some farmers to spend thousands of dollars on “aquatic sleeping arrangements” for their cows. Apparently, waterbeds reduce sores and infections that cows sometimes get because traditional beds of grass, straw or wood chips trap moisture and grow bacteria. And, while waterbeds are notoriously uncomfortable for human backs, they are said to be idea for cows’ joints.
Farmers are hopeful that the new bovine sleep systems will not only be environmentally friendly but will also be economical because they won’t need to be replaced or refreshed like traditional bedding. While the industry claims that it’s too soon to tell if the new arrangements will increase milk production, it’s safe to say that the cows are sleeping more comfortably. And, as Oregon farmer Ben Van Loon told a local news station, “Happier cows, happier milk”!
Seriously? Cows have been sleeping on the ground for centuries and we’ve yet to hear one complain. Sure, we want dairy cows to be treated humanely but I know first-hand just how difficult it can be to get your money’s worth from a waterbed.
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