Sunday, January 27, 2013

MY TRACTOR AND JAMMER



I am not sure if the word jammer is only a regional term, but when I talk about my tractor and jammer with people from other parts of the country, they have no idea what I am talking about (much less people from other parts of the world). In fact, even many people from right around here do not know what a jammer is.
Just for the fun of it, I googled the word jammer. I learned that there is evidently some swimwear known as jammers, there is a type of keyboard called a jammer, and it is a device used for jamming radio signals (besides having several other definitions). However, in all of these definitions, there is no Northern Wisconsin jammer. Actually, this may not be so surprising, since a jammer is from the technology of my father’s generation. It is a technology that I still use.
A Northern Wisconsin jammer is used for working in the woods. It is a winch and boom setup that is mounted to the back of a tractor or small caterpillar. Mine is mounted on a tractor. On my last blog post I told you that I consider myself a pretend farmer. Well, this winter I am also kind of pretend logger. These are things that I have missed while we were living overseas and I am having fun this year getting back into the life here, while hopefully making a little bit of an income. My tractor and jammer are part of it all.
The operation is simple and basic, although a little dangerous. After felling the tree with a chainsaw and cutting the tree into eight foot lengths, I then pull the cable from the winch, walk out to each log, and hook it with the log tongs. I then walk back to the tractor to activate the winch, which is done by pulling on a rope. The winch is made out of an old brake drum from a pickup truck. It pulls the log in from where it is lying and then lifts it on to the trailer. There is still hard labor involved, but not the back-breaking labor of much earlier days.
The Happy Logger in Action
When my father was a young man, back in the middle part of the last century, every logger wanted a jammer. Even when I was growing up and myself a young man, the tractor and jammer was normal method of logging in our part of the country.
No more. Today most woods workers use skidders, forwarders and processors. The latest innovation in logging technology is the processor. With the processor, the machine operator never leaves his seat in the heated cab. The machine grabs the standing tree with huge and powerful pincers while a saw emerges underneath and saws the tree at the stump. Then the pincers lays the whole tree down, feeds it through some knives to cut off the branches, and saws it into lengths.
As the machine saws the tree into lengths, a display of the board feet in the log appears on a monitor in the cab, also registering total board feet for the day. I suppose it can also be set to tally up the total for the entire job. As one machine operator told me, “It’s the most fun video game I have ever played.”

Technology marches constantly onward; some might say inextricably onward. Technological advances have become so much a part of our cultural existence that it is increasingly difficult to disentangle ourselves from them. Should one be inclined to do so, it is becoming nearly impossible to retreat into what we see as “simpler times.”
There is much that could be said on this subject, but it is not my purpose here to speak against technology. Nor is it is not my wish that everyone would use a tractor and jammer in the woods like I do. If they did, there would be some lumberjack logging with horses or oxen who would think that no one should be using those newfangled jammers.
It seems to me that to speak against technological advances would be to deny the human spirit, which was, after all, created in the image of God. There is something within us that causes us to want to constantly improve things and find ways to make our lives better, whether it is better logging equipment or any other forms of technology.
So far…so good.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the matter. When we, as a human race, rebelled against the Lordship of our Creator God, our natural inclination to do good turned to a natural inclination to evil. This is what I have referred to in other places as The Great Rebellion, and it has affected absolutely every aspect of our existence, including our use of technology.
Some would say that technology is neutral, neither good nor bad. They would say that it all depends on how it is applied.


Although we also enjoyed living in the tropics of Latin
America all of those years, I must say that working in
the woods on days like this is something that I missed
I see that point, but I think a more realistic view is that technology, like everything else in our human nature, has been affected by the great rebellion. Technology is not exactly neutral, because if left to its own devices; it will naturally and eventually lead to destruction. Technology may have at one time been naturally beneficial, but as an effect of our rebellion against our God, it has fallen from its lofty position. Like our own spirits, it needs to be redeemed.
Redeeming something involves bringing it back to its original purpose. This includes our natural desire at trying to improve and make our lives better. Without redemption, things that we do to try and make our lives better will eventually work against us.
The Happy Logger
God has another plan. When God created man, we read that He put man in the Garden of Eden to “cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). These are two words that indicate stewardship. They show that God’s purpose for giving us the ability and the desire to keep making improvements is for the care of His creation. When we use our skills to fulfill the mandate given to us by God, we find that we are also the beneficiaries.
I like my tractor and jammer, but there is no virtue in using yesterday’s technology. The virtue comes from using the technology that we have to do the work of God. We are the gardeners of creation.

2 comments:

  1. In reading this blog about technology the tower of babel came to mind. Do you think this story is in reference to technology? It seems that with technology comes an ever increasing blurring of the right reason, faith, by a desire to make a name for ourselves. It is sometimes hard to see the benefits of ever advancing technology; ever increasing distractions from spritiual growth. What do you think of the following statement "As technology grows, our ability to listen fades." That being said, I guess the avialability of the internet on a laptop is what allowed me to see this and bring out my bible to look a little deeper into the story of the tower of babel. On the flip side though my other option for the afternoon was to go on a walk in the woods. Thanks for contributing information to the internet that is a little more usefull than celebrity gossip. Have a good day.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have always been a little astounded at what God said concerning the tower of Babel; “Now nothing that they purpose to do will be impossible for them.”

    In this post, I talked about redeeming our technological inclination. I think that you are correct in saying that at Babel, we see technology advancing fueled simply by the pride of man (an unredeemed technology).

    What God said concerning this is scary. I wrote an article about this subject when Dolly the sheep of Scotland was first cloned, and the discussion began to arise concerning the possibility of cloning a human. There are some things that we should not do, even if we have the ability.

    Maybe we all need to just take more walks in the woods.

    ReplyDelete