Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Cow Tech

A writer friend sent me an ad from the USPS, showing a rancher out in the field checking the status of his package on his mobile phone. She was highly amused at the idea. And then I had to go and burst her bubble because, yep, we walk around with a phone stuck to us like everyone else. Comes in pretty damn handy when you're a couple miles from the house and bury the tractor in a deep and steep dry wash you couldn't see because of the snow. And if that package happens to be the replacement whatchamajig for the hay baler that has us at a standstill, you can bet your boots we'll be checking to see when it's gonna get here.

Beyond communication and "Um, need a little help here", there are literally hundreds of applications for cell phones on farms and ranches. Computerized irrigation systems send alerts to a farmer's phone, letting him know if there are malfunctions, or if water levels need to be increased or decreased in particular parts of a field. We have an app that lets us enter data on newborn calves out in the field and creates a spreadsheet that tracks cow performance from year to year. And of course there are the podcasts and audiobooks that keep me from losing my sanity somewhere around load #127 of round bales.

But nothing since the invention of pickup trucks has revolutionized the rodeo industry like the cell phone. No more standing in a phone booth outside the cafe in Lavina, Montana, dialing and dialing and re-dialing, trying to get through on the always-busy line to the rodeo entry office. And now when they put you up in Thursday evening's performance when you're already scheduled to be at a rodeo 500 miles away, you can actually track down the people who are on the program for Friday night to try to find someone who'll trade you places. Plus, when you're at the Pendleton Roundup and you can't locate your traveling partner, instead of hiking all over the rodeo grounds to run him down, you just fire off a text that says, "Put down the drink, get out of the Let er Buck room and meet me at the rig in half an hour or I'm leaving without you."


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