New Agrarian Voices

Learn about the impressions and experiences of each year's cohort of apprentices in their own words.





Jules Bost, APPRENTICE, Schultz Ranch

How did you get interested in agriculture? And what are you hoping to gain from your apprenticeship?
May 2024

I became interested in agriculture before I knew what to call it. Perhaps from all those hours roaming in the woods with my brothers climbing trees, running through fields, picking flowers, playing in the creek, eating from the garden, and foraging wild onions, mushrooms, black berries, and even slugs. We watched any living thing we could find, laying down with our eyes inches from these crawling things or looking through our binoculars at the creatures that would come out if we were still enough. We understood in our own way, the way they moved, acted, communicated, ate, and fit into the ecosystem. Without clearly knowing it then, all I wanted was to be a part of this by caring for all of nature. I wanted to always be awed by the miracle of living things, the feel of the soil in my hands, the smell of the sun on dewy grass, the sound of the animals and birds moving around me.

Our neighbors started a clean meats farm when I was 11 and I couldn’t get enough of it. I was there whenever I could be, catching a ride or riding my bike. It’s hard to explain the draw to that place because it resulted from far more than just one thing. For how do you fit such unconfined feelings into a word? There is one word that might do it justice because of what many people feel when they hear it. “Home”. At least the way I hear and feel that word, it is chocked full with emotions, smells, sights, sounds… the lot. Many people have a spot that this word fits so well: the childhood house, grandma’s kitchen, the family garden, or maybe the reading nook. These places, this “home”, they aren’t special just because of the material thing. You know what I’m talking about. Perhaps you are even transported there now and recall so much more. “The farm”, as everyone dubbed it, was like this for so many people. It was the variety of animals known and cared for, the cows grazing in the rolling hills, the pigs rooting through the woods, the sheep bounding free through the fields, and the chickens sifting through the grass. But it wasn’t just that, it was also the loving people who became like family, the kids like brothers and sisters, the welcoming farmhouse with the front door always open, the wrap-around porch with a swing, the bright and chaotic dinner table, the tire swing tied to that big oak tree on the hill, and the laughter along with our shenanigans. It was home. And then there was the hard and sweaty, but so rewarding work. Everyone doing their part; seeing what needed to be done and doing it with joy. Hauling heaving loads, moving animals, building and taking down fences, shoveling out manure, weeding the garden, processing chickens, teaching farm camp, long days selling meat, and cleaning freezers. All this was done in community, the good and the bad shared. Often after spending a hard summer day working, we would pile in the truck and head to the river to float down it or get milkshakes. Looking back to those days I still remember clearly the satisfying ache of my muscles, laughing around the dinner table, watching the sun cast gold all around as it went down, and sleeping so deeply. There is something special about investing in the land, raising animals, growing vegetables, and producing meat. It was home and I belonged. I thrived under the responsibility of caring for the animals and helping the farm run. Once I knew what it felt like to produce something with my own hands, through by own sweat and hard work, there was no going back. I learn so much there. Not just how to farm and steward nature well but also work ethic, determination, patience, love, and the need for laughter. In the same way, agriculture isn’t just one thing for me. It’s a lifestyle. A lifestyle I fell in love with from a young age.

I went on to learn tropical sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry in Florida; study international ag and community development at university; practice and teach how to farm while in the Sahara Desert; and learn and perform basic veterinary skills in villages in India. As you know, I am now an apprentice in Montana on a cattle ranch honing my skills, learning regenerative methods, expanding my knowledge, developing new skill sets, and I hope I’m making another “home”. I’m learning to appreciate and love new smells, sights, and sounds. I’m not sure I will ever forget the smell of newborn calf poop on my jeans, day old placenta, the burning of a brand, and warm sage brush in the tires of the ranger. When I leave here, I hope to be able to use the knowledge I learned about regenerative agriculture and soil health to benefit the land and community wherever I end up. My passion for creation doesn’t end here and I hope I can inspire others to this same passion and lifestyle. 

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