Badger Creek Ranch

Eight-Month Cattle Ranching Apprenticeship in South Central Colorado

Badger Creek Ranch is a working cattle and guest ranch in the Badger Creek Basin, at about 9,000 feet elevation. Badger Creek is a model of sustainability and connection to the land.  We live on the land with our animals and practice regenerative agriculture, a philosophy based on the integration of human goals and the understanding of the long-term impact of our activities on the environment and on other species.  We use holistic management in our decision making and planning in order to improve the health of the land for future generations.

Meet the mentors


Badger Creek Ranch

Badger Creek Ranch collaborates with Arrowpoint Cattle Company to graze and finish grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Cow calf pairs are moved to high elevation grazing at Badger Creek Ranch during the summer while the two year olds finish out on the lush grass of the valley.  This a well-rounded learning opportunity; working cattle, planned grazing in different environments, stockmanship, horsemanship and educating guests that visit Badger Creek Ranch in the summer, to name a few.

Badger Creek Ranch manages cattle through Holistic Management on horseback, using Natural Horsemanship techniques. Guests ride with ranch managers to move cattle, check fences, monitor land and assist with ranch needs according to their riding ability. While the apprentice will be focused on livestock and agriculture, they will help lead guests when appropriate. Apprentices should be comfortable riding on rough terrain. 

The apprentice will be focused on caring for livestock, including the cattle that are grazed there in the summer, along with chickens, pigs, and horses. Badger Creek welcomes up to six guests at a time, and focuses on incorporating grassfed beef and other ranch products into family-style meals, opening conversations with guests about regenerative agriculture, and hosting soil health workshops to help teach other landowners and ranchers about erosion control techniques.

The Mentors

Natalie and Brian Allio along with Dave and Chrissy McFarren started Badger Creek Ranch several years ago with a combined vision for regenerative agriculture, education, reconnection with nature, and the production of healthy, humanely raised food.

All members of the team wear many hats and work together to balance the needs of land, livestock, and guests.

Natalie has completed Holistic Management International’s training in Whole Ranch/Farm Planning and Whole Ranch/Farm Land Management, and is on track to become a certified HMI educator.  Natalie coordinates daily activities on the ranch, as well as community outreach and education.

Brian takes primary responsibility for sales and marketing in the guest operation.  He is also a great cook and skilled at managing the kitchen.

Chrissy is knowledgeable in holistic farm and ranching practices and oversees the purchase, care, pasture rotation, and processing of our pastured pork and poultry.

Natalie, Brian and Chrissy work together to coordinate horse and cattle pasture rotation, herd health and nutrition, and horsemanship/stockmanship training.

Dave is our Web master, bookkeeper and accountant.  He also repairs and maintains the many engines (large and small) on the ranch, as well as our off grid solar power system

The Badger Creek Ranch team is excited to offer this experience to a 2019 New Agrarian Apprentice. This opportunity is best suited to someone who has a basic knowledge of ranching and wishes to learn, improve, and specialize their skill set.


This apprentice will work closely six days a week with Natalie, Brian, Dave or Chrissy at the ranch.  This is a great opportunity for an apprentice with a positive attitude and a great work ethic who wants to learn while doing about grass-fed beef and pasture raised pork and poultry by: maintaining/repairing perimeter fence, building temporary electrical fences, herding/moving cattle through rotational grazing plan and assisting with marketing grass fed/pasture raised products.  They will get experience with livestock management, land monitoring, horsemanship and stockmanship. Other activities may be incorporated into the day, depending on the apprentice’s interests.  The apprenticeship at Badger Creek Ranch is well-suited to applicants who enjoy engaging with people, educating guests and are ready to be “on” all the time.

This is a full-time, intensive education and professional training program requiring fifty to sixty hours a week, sometimes more and sometimes less. One of the joys as well as the challenges of farming is living and working with the rhythm of the seasons, and the work schedule follows the demands of the season, weather, and animal needs.

Enthusiasm and a sincere commitment to sustainable agriculture and food production are more important than experience, though riding competency is needed and experience with other livestock is a plus. Depending on availability and apprentice interested, exposure and experience in some of the other enterprises may be possible.

Stipend: The monthly stipend is determined each year, based on available funding; it is typically around $700/month take-home pay, paid bi-weekly. This amount is negotiable based on experience. The apprentice will stay in a room at the ranch headquarters.  All utilities are included in housing at no additional cost to the apprentice, though the apprentice is expected to be conscientious about energy use since the ranch is off-grid.  The apprentice is expected to keep their living quarters clean and in good shape.

Quivira Coalition Activities: This apprenticeship is offered through Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Program.  The full cohort of apprentices on regenerative ranches and farms across the west will attend an April orientation, participate in supplemental education provided in partnership with Holistic Management International, and attend the annual Quivira Conference, hosted with Holistic Management International and the American Grassfed Association, in November.  Apprentices are also required to write several reports during their apprenticeship; these reports will go through the NAP Coordinator at Quivira, and be posted on the Quivira website. 

Time off: One day off per week provides a healthy break for the apprentice. There may be times when a day off is not possible, but other times (like during the monsoons) when two days off per week might make more sense. The work pattern follows that of nature; when everything is busy and producing and growing, farmers do the same. When nature begins to slow down, there is a natural decline in activity. Some apprentices save up days off so they can take several consecutive days to go visit family or attend a class or workshop, when the ranch schedule can accommodate this time away.

Visitors: Southern Colorado has a large tourist draw. As a temporary resident, the apprentice may experience that draw through requests for visits from friends and family. The apprentice may also want to express their enthusiasm for the program by inviting friends and family to visit. We ask that the apprentice use wisdom and judgment to balance the apprenticeship demands with time available for guests. Apprentices must discuss visitors in advance. 

Food: Meals are prepared and are eaten family style while guests are staying at the ranch. Apprentice will have access to the kitchen to prepare meals when guests are not at the ranch.

Pets: It will not be possible for apprentices to have any pets with them during the apprenticeship. 

All the fun stuff: No smoking or drugs on the ranch.

NO Partying: No partying. Having a beer/glass of wine or two after work is just fine.

Health Insurance: The ranching lifestyle has inherent dangers. While personal health insurance is not required to participate in the apprenticeship program, it is strongly encouraged. The ranch carries Workman’s Compensation to cover injuries incurred on the job. But if the apprentice is injured on his or her day off, gets sick, or has or develops chronic conditions like allergies, these types of issues should be covered by personal health insurance. 

Ranch Vehicles: All of the ranch vehicles are standard transmission. The apprentice will be expected to competently operate these vehicles. Apprentices must have a valid driver’s license. Ranch vehicles can be made available for apprentice personal use, on a case-by-case basis.

Personal Vehicle: It is highly recommended that the apprentice have a personal vehicle, as the ranch is remote and apprentices can feel isolated if they don’t have their own transportation to town on days off, etc. There are no instances (or very few) when the apprentice would be required to use his/her own vehicle around the ranch. In order to run personal errands and travel on days off, however, the apprentice will need the flexibility of his or her own vehicle. 

Services available to the apprentice: The apprentice will have access to the ranch washer and dryer, though they are asked to be conscientious about use as this is a shared resource and the ranch uses off-grid power. Internet is only available at the ranch office. 

Living near Salida, Colorado: Badger Creek Ranch is about an hour from Cañon City and 45 minutes from Salida. Salida is a dynamic town with lots of culture, coffee shops; Cañon City is on the Arkansas River, with lots of rafting and outdoor activities. Apprentices are encouraged to become involved in the community, work and ranch-life permitting. 

The ranch is at high altitude.  The beginning and end of the apprenticeship will be cold, summers are warm, with monsoon rains common in July and August.



Applications are now closed

Check back October 2020 to apply for a 2021 apprenticeship at Badger Creek.

2020 Apprentice


Brenn Scott

There’s a myriad of inspiring material out there today that discusses regenerative agriculture and sustainability in our food systems. There’s dozens of examples of people who have embarked on a similar journey I’m on. But, as a loyal Coloradan, I knew that I needed to learn how to do things specifically in our delicate climate. Regenerative agriculture looks wildly different in regions that have copious rainfall and temperate climates. How could I learn to do that here, in this semi-arid desert where the weather seems to become more and more erratic each year?” – Excerpt from the New Agrarian Voices Blog post

2019 Apprentice


Savannah Robar

Growing up in a suburb outside of Atlanta, my first true agricultural experience began in my high school’s greenhouse – I took a horticulture class for credit and enjoyed it so much I landed an after-school job at a greenhouse called Andi’s Way. The work was as challenging as it was fun, but I didn’t understand how to use it as a framework for building my life around. After graduating with a B.A. in visual communication, the fear of being trapped in a cubicle slowly crept in, and the lack of job offers only confirmed my suspicion that maybe I wasn’t ready to settle into something just yet.

I was lucky enough to have grown up taking riding lessons, and although I never owned a horse of my own and stopped riding consistently before I went to college, I relied on these experiences to (impulsively) land an internship training colts on a South Dakota bison ranch. I remember being so nervous on my first day that I put a bridle on backwards. My self-confidence hit the floor and stayed there for about two weeks before my boss told me, “even if you have no idea what you’re doing, you have to get up there and ride off like you know exactly what you’re doing”. So that’s what I did, and–to an extent–what I’m still doing as I attempt to forge a new career path for myself. One that’s built on gratitude for the land we so fortunately grace; on a desire to actively cultivate connections within our human and nonhuman communities; and one that requires hands-on, intentional work that is so often lost among the rest of the world.

I’m thrilled to continue my growth and learning with the kind, supportive and knowledgeable folks at Badger Creek. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m confident in my own direction as well as the leadership of my mentors to get me there. I can’t wait to see what agricultural prospects await in the coming year!

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