Wristband cell phones, cell phone bracelets and wristband communicators are something Gene Roddenberry might have dreamed up when he developed the original Star Trek TV series in the early 1960s. Decidedly “treky,” these gadgets are just another extrapolation of ongoing improvements and advancements in cell and communication technology that can help us in our lives and on our farms.
This new technology is quite different from the hand signals my Dad used when we were kids growing up and helping in the fields. I recall one early November morning when Dad woke me out of a deep sleep at 4 a.m. to take him to the field to move tractors, trucks and wagons around so he could start combining on frozen ground before it thawed at dawn and became unnavigable. We drove to the field and Dad got out of the pickup to start the combine. After he got the machine warmed up, he made some kind of unusual motion with his hands. I thought he wanted me to go to the other end of the field and wait for him.
About 30 minutes later, when Dad tapped on the window of the pickup a little out of breath, I realized that he wanted me to follow the combine and pick him up. When I didn’t show, he walked from the other end of the field to find me. Oops.
A few years later we purchased CB radios for all of the farm vehicles and implements. A normal conversation might go something like this:
“Breaker, breaker 1-9, how ‘bout that Camel Curt,” Dad would say over the home base radio. (My CB handle was Camel. Don’t ask.)
“10-4, I gotcha Harry-O, what’s up?” I replied from the tractor and baler in the field. (Dad’s handle was Harry-O, after the popular TV investigator back in the day.)
“Do you need anything right now?” Dad would ask.
“Yup, if you could bring the loader out to pick up a bale that blew apart here, that would be good,” I would answer. “But watch for the County Mounty with his cherries on along the blacktop by the bridge, Harry-O. He’s got an 18-wheeler pulled over, so stay clear.”
“I’ll probably wait a bit at the home-20 for that to clear out before I head to the field,” Dad would say.
“10-4. See you in a short.”
As time passed, CB radio waves became so crowded that we picked up skip from around the country when the weather was right. It became difficult to actually communicate when you needed to, so we went to the bag phone. Cell coverage in our area was very sketchy at first, so we kept magnetic antennas attached to all the vehicles, tractors and trucks, and carried our bag phones with us wherever we went.
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So, the cell phones and tablets of today that can run our grain bin aeration systems and center pivots, as well as the new Dick Tracy, James Bond or Star Trek tech-like wristband communicators are quite a leap from the old hand signals. I suppose they are generally more reliable too. Now all I need is a phaser and a transporter. Beam me up, Scottie!
Here is this week's discussion question. What new tech tool is most useful on your farm for improving communication? You can leave your observations and thoughts right here.