The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fern's Radio Communications Story

Hello, Fern here. I am borrowing Frank's introductory line for my one and only radio post.

I wanted to give a little different perspective about radio communications. Gentlemen, this will be good information for you. I hope to give you the perspective of a wife and a woman. Ladies, this post is really for you. Frank and I have very different interest levels, knowledge and interaction with our radio equipment. Like he has said in a couple of his posts, I need to be able to turn it on, key the microphone, and talk. I need to be able to talk to him just about anywhere I am. He is my knight in shining armor and I need to be able to call him from anywhere if I am a damsel in distress, or I just want to tell him how beautiful the sunrise is, or if there are beautiful flowers and tomatoes in the garden. I just need to always be able to get in touch with him if the need arises.

Let me back up a bit. Frank recently did a post about OPSEC communications which I thought was very valuable. I wanted folks to see how our use of radios has grown into an every day habit. It hasn't always been this way. In fact, it hasn't been very long at all since we began understanding and implementing radio communications as part of a very necessary piece of our daily operational security. So, I want to share with you my take on how I have come to depend upon, trust in, and need to have a radio with me anytime we are apart. Even if I am just out in the garden or in the barn, I have a radio with me all the time. And to monitor any communication I may wish to send, Frank listens to our Alinco base station in the shack, or his handheld.

You see, when we got to the point that we knew our move from Alaska was going to entail two vehicles with two U-Haul trailers and we wouldn't be able to talk to each other for about 12 days, I knew that just wouldn't do. We spend the vast majority of our time together and talk a lot. We were making one of the biggest moves of our lives, and I wanted to be able to talk to my husband. So, being the man he is, he came up with a great solution. He got us two handheld radios that would easily allow us to talk between vehicles. Yea! It made all the difference in the world to me, and it also introduced us to the world of radio.

Some time after we arrived, probably after we got our goat herd and I was spending more time in the barn, we started using them some around the farm. At first, honestly, I thought they were a pain to keep up with. I
remember feeling like they were in the way, awkward to carry, and I just didn't like it. I also found talking on them to be odd, and I didn't like that either. I didn't like knowing that others could listen to our conversations. But as time went by, there were several times they came in very handy. Like the time I went out to check on one of our first does and found she was having babies out in the pasture. I tried to call Frank on the radio, but the battery was just about dead and the only thing it would transmit was a beep. But he knew it was me and that I needed him. This saved me the trip back to the house, and I was able to start moving the goats into the barn. And in a very short period of time, there he was to help me.

I can't tell you when we realized how much these radios could increase our daily communications and security around the farm. I just gradually began to find more comfortable ways to carry them. Then, after we began using the commercial radios, I started using a microphone on mine. I find it easier to hear what Frank is saying when I have it clipped to the top of my shirt. I also find it easier to just key the mic instead of having to take the radio off of the loop on my work jeans or out of my coat pocket. I like the ease of the microphone much better. Frank doesn't. That's okay. We have each found a way that works well, is comfortable, and is effective.

Ladies, one of the main reasons I have come to appreciate the use of these radios is because Frank can be assured of my safety and I know that I can call him if I need something. We live off the beaten track and I like to
be out and about on our place. We have developed certain phrases we use when I arrive at the barn to milk the goats and another one when I leave there. We have also picked out a phrase to use in case something is very wrong and the other needs to come immediately, whether we are at home or on the road. We have practiced not using names and specific words identifying locations, not even using the words barn, house, etc. Every so often, we will slip and still identify a person or place. You would be surprised how much you have to train yourself to talk in a different way when you are putting information out on the airwaves where anyone can hear you. And the need for that practice is why you need to be set up and using whatever radios work for you long before a real, long term emergency occurs. If you wait until you really need them, it will be too late.

A while back, Frank and I both got our ham radio licenses. He has told everyone the only reason I did that was for him, and that is true. It is an interest he has and is something we felt we needed to do so he would be able to listen and communicate around the neighborhood, around the country and around the world in case of a disaster or collapse. We truly feel this ability will increase our
safety and security when and if that time comes. And we truly believe it is coming. We went to a few classes to learn something about the ham tests. Frank has taught me much about frequencies, different types of radios and some about antennas. We discuss things frequently, but I do not have anywhere near the knowledge he does, nor do I want to learn any more than I need to know. To pass the General test, I took over 100 practice tests and basically memorized the test. I have only talked on the repeater to other hams a handful of times, less than 10, since receiving my license. I have no desire to be involved in the 'ham' world at all. My only reason for being involved in radio at all is to communicate with my husband, who is my protector.

So, ladies, I encourage you to become involved in finding a means of being able to communicate with your family should all 'normal' means of communication become unavailable. Radio, in some form or fashion, will be available. To find out more about what may suit your situation, you will have to go and read Frank's Radio Communication posts. There is no way I can explain or teach you any of that. I have found over time that I have come to depend upon being able to talk to Frank, either here at home, or out on the road. He has given me this precious gift. Ask your husband for this same gift. It could be a matter of life and death.

Until next time - Fern

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