Mike has nearly completed the selective logging job for the top of the hill and it has been my job to repair and replace the barb wire fence that runs the ridge next to his skid road.
During the spring and summer months, the cows do not bother to walk the steep hillside since there is so much feed available on the lower areas of the farm. During the fall and early winter, the herd has been known to travel the woods for browsing. It is important to get the fence repaired before the wandering herd finds the areas that have grown over, were smashed during the windstorms of last winter, or were wiped out from elk running through them.
Thank goodness for the John Deere Gator. With the 300 feet change in elevation between the bottom of the river to the top of the hillside, the physical climb would be nearly impossible with all the equipment needed to fix the wire fencing along the ridge. Lugging fence posts, chainsaws, clippers, rolls of wire, clips, staples and lunchboxes fill the storage bed of the gator during our jaunts up the hill.
On days when all the equipment has been hauled up and it is already at the fence line, the trek up the hill can be done by walking. This is a necessity when the ground is too wet to allow the Gator up the steep switchbacks, but once to the ridge a rest is needed before I can begin the work on the fence.
As my right hand helper and I were headed to the fenceline one morning where we had finished working the day before, the sound of the Gator startled a herd of elk. They took off quickly and headed toward this fence line. When we got to this spot we noticed the elk had wiped out the section fence that we had worked so hard to repair during our last session.
3 posts were flattened and 2 wires of the fence were broken. Before we could continue on down the fenceline, we had to fix what our elk herd had destroyed.