When tractors and ATVs fail, draft horses are the solution for building cell phone towers in the rural areas of Wisconsin.
Sometimes the best answer is the simplest one. That's why when U.S. Cellular needed to build cell phone towers in the tough-to-access areas of rural Wisconsin, they traded in their heavy-duty machinery for the original kind of horsepower: draft horses.
U.S. Cellular faced the challenge of how to get nearly a ton of equipment up through steep wooded hillsides. Trucks got stuck and all-terrain vehicles couldn't handle the challenge. In short, wheels and the steep hillsides just weren't a good fit.
But hooves worked out just fine. Brabant draft horses, owned by Jason Julian of Medford, came to the rescue and were able to pull a wooden wagon loaded with gear. Julian owns eight of the 2,000-pound draft horses and usually uses them for plowing, harvesting, and logging on his 225-acre farm.
Where heavy machinery would make a mess of the ground, the horses' hooves have a much smaller impact. The horses are also versatile, too - whereas a tractor may have trouble navigating tree roots or downed trees, the horses can easily go around or step over such obstacles. They can fit into smaller spaces that a tractor can't. Plus, draft horses are cheaper than buying a tractor, making them an ideal solution for Julian's needs.
But horses have their limits, too. They're living animals, so Julian is careful not to work them on hot, humid days. Sometimes he takes them out in the early morning hours - think 3 a.m. - so that their work is done by 9. And he always makes sure they have time to cool down, eat, and rest.
When the winter weather hits, these horses keep going. They have thick hair that helps to keep them warm, even in the snow. This means that they can help with work, like logging, year-round. In fact, the driver is the one who gets cold long before the horses do.
With so many advantages to using draft horses for farming and work, you would think that the trend would be gaining popularity. In fact, it's the opposite. Younger generations of farmers haven't taken the reins, so to speak, and the use of the draft horse on modern day farms is declining.
But U.S. Cellular realizes how important these horses are. Even with all of today's technology, these horses are essential when building cell phone towers on top of big hills, where the signal is best. They go where machinery can't, proving that technology isn't always the best solution.
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