Coulter Family Ranch8 month regenerative cattle & sheep ranching apprenticeship near Brussett, Montana
The Farm & Ranch
The Coulter Family Ranch (CFR) was homesteaded by the Coulter Family in 1914 and used to primarily be a farm, but was planted into perennials in 2016. We have a managed grazing system for the cattle and sheep, with daily moves some times of the year and up to two weeks at other times. We have drought plans, grazing plans, and natural disaster plans. An independent consultant has eight monitoring transects set up on the ranch to help measure land health. We continually strive to improve our grazing, animal husbandry, business skills, and interpersonal connections.
The main enterprise is a stocker operation that retains ownership in the finishing phase. The cattle are enrolled in one or several programs including GAP 1, GAP 4, and Verified All Natural. We also have hair ewes and a lamb backgrounding enterprise. At times we raise poultry as well. Lambs are sold in the commodity market, and most beef is sold into value-added programs including Country Natural Beef and GAP/All-Natural Verified custom-feeding operations in Oregon, Idaho, and Kansas.
People, Planet, and Profit are the three drivers of the ranch’s goal and vision creation. Our goal is to be professional holistic land managers and profit managers, and to create opportunities for all people connected to CFR.
This ranch used to be primarily a farm, but we have worked to restore the cropland back to native range and perennials. We have a managed grazing system for the cattle and sheep. During some times of the year will do daily moves, and other times up to 2 weeks. We have drought plans, grazing plans, fire/hail/hopper plans. We have hired an independent consultant to conduct ecological monitoring on the ranch and we have 8 monitoring transects to measure improvements in land health.
Casey & Lacey Coulter
Casey has operated the ranch for over a decade and is married to Lacey, a speech therapist. She helps with the ranch as much as possible and is involved in all ownership decisions. And they have three young children: Garrett, Poppy, and Daisy. Casey was raised 12 miles north of the current ranch location and his parents still operate a ranch there, and CFR is his grandparent’s operation. He attended Montana State University and graduated in 2004, and spent time ranching in Silver Star Montana and then working as an agricultural loan officer before moving back to the ranch. Lacey is from North Dakota and joined the operation in 2012. She attended Ft. Hays State in western Kansas and worked in Kansas until 2011.
What will an apprentice do?
There will be a lot of electric fencing and education about fencing, livestock husbandry, stockmanship, and forage management. We also want the apprentice to participate in our “Working on the Business” meetings and from there, they can be as involved as they want on financial and strategic planning discussions.
What skills and traits are required in an apprentice?
- Valid Driver’s License
- Open minded with a willingness to learn and not afraid to share ideas
- Sense of Humor is a must
What skills and traits are desired in an apprentice?
Our vision for an apprentice is to have them share a part of our vision, work side-by-side with us on the operation’s land and livestock management and be as involved as they feel comfortable on the business management. We want an apprentice who can grasp our overall vision and understands how the work outdoors is a part of that vision. More detailed skills desired would be horseback and/or ATV skills, general mechanic skills, and electric fence skills. The apprentice must have the ability to work alone at times.
Nuts & Bolts
Start Date: March 2023
Length of Apprenticeship: 8-9 months (could be longer if it is a good fit)
Stipend: $1500 with opportunity for advancement
General work hours: Monday through Saturday from 7am-5pm with an hour off for lunch.
Housing: An updated 3 bedroom, 2 bath trailer home with sheets/cooking utensils/pots/pans etc.
Laundry: In apprentice housing
Internet availability: In apprentice housing.
Cell Phone Provider: There is Verizon cell service at the house and at high spots around the ranch.
Time off: The schedule is flexible and project-oriented, but Sundays will typically be the day off.
Visitors policy: Visitors are fine as long as their stay doesn’t negatively affect normal operations and pets are disclosed and do not chase livestock.
Food: Beef, lamb, pork, and chicken will be available to the apprentice.
Pets: Allowed, there are already 2-4 cats living around the trailer house, so dogs must be controlled so as to not chase or kill cats, chickens, or livestock. A gelding could also be negotiated.
Horses: The apprentice will be expected to ride and would preferably have some experience with horses and riding.
Tobacco, alcohol & cannabis use: All is allowed but smoking (both tobacco and cannabis) and drinking are not permitted during work hours and the apprentice must not be under the influence while at work.
Guns: Allowed but the apprentice must be skilled in firearm safety and use and guns must be secured when not in use.
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.
Vehicles: Apprentice will drive ranch vehicles during work hours. While apprentices will not be asked to use a personal vehicle for work purposes, the apprentice will need the flexibility of his or her own vehicle on their days off in order to run personal errands such as purchasing groceries and for travel.
Additional items apprentice should bring: Gear for all weather, sun protection and snow/rain protection.
Living at Coulter Family Farms: Jordan, Montana is the closest town with a population of 350 people, with all of the basic amenities including places to eat and drink, a grocery store, hotels, a dental and health clinic and gas stations. Community events include high school sports and a local fair. Winnett is 75 miles away and is another small community with a group of young, like-minded people. Social activities include brandings, cattle workings, and trips to other ranches. Billings, the largest city in Montana, is 180 miles away and has the closest airport.
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 a late March or early April orientation, participate in supplemental education provided by Quivira Coalition, attend in-person land health workshops 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.