So you wanna be a Cowboy?

Operating a ranch, even with four-wheelers and other machinery, is an awful lot of work.  Kinda like housecleaning, the job is never done.  And one of the messiest chores is fixing a water gap.

This is a section of fence that stretches over a stream or creek.  Cattle must be prevented from leaving the property and entering a neighbor's pasture, and they will test a fence for an opening out.  The problem with a water gap is that any appreciable rain or runoff will swell the creek and wipe out that section of fence.  And it's not just water but also debris such as brush, branches and logs.

The water level becomes an issue, for the length to cross with barbed wire and for the depth to wade through.  And the gumbo mud can be slick as an eel.

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Last Sunday I helped brother Brian fix a couple water gaps.  Among the worn-out gloves, snagged clothes, stumbling and fighting the wire, I learned a bit about fencing.

Fixing fence and water gaps is an exercise in thinking and planning.  What will we do to fix this section?  What materials are needed?  How and where do I cross this creek?  What will I need on the other side?  How do we cross a wire over a creek?

Credit: Travis Lee
Credit: Travis Lee
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Sometimes the only way is to walk/wade it across.  One strand at a time.

What makes this specific job so thankless?  The next major rainstorm will destroy all the handiwork.  Brian had mentioned this particular water gap he built earlier that he had been rather pleased with the result.  Then over three inches of rain fell recently, moving whole logs...

Credit: Travis Lee
Credit: Travis Lee
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Don't try to clean this up with your hands.  Why?  Rattler could be in there.

So for all the new residents to rural Montana, Welcome.  Put away the Hollywood, put on the waders and the leather gloves, expect the ticks and flies, and go to work.

Don't worry, there will be some horseplay too.

Credit: Travis Lee
Credit: Travis Lee
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Montana Northern Lights Pictures

LOOK: Majestic Land for Sale in Montana

Approximately 50 acres of land are for sale in the Little Belt Mountains. Take a look at the spectacular landscape that is nearly untouched. The property is for sale from Lynn Kenyon with Live In Montana Real Esate.

Gallery Credit: Ashley

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