New Agrarian Voices

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

Dylan Jones, APPRENTICE, Sol Ranch, NM

TAKE A PEEK INTO THE DAILY LIFE OF AN APPRENTICE BY READING THEIR RESPONSES TO THESE QUESTIONS.

 

What is something you do every day? I wake up on the right side of the dirt, surrounded by beautiful country.

What items do you always take with you to your work day? My NCBA Red Book, chapstick, and a good sombrero.

What does a typical day look like? Is there a general rhythm even if days fluctuate? My day begins with coffee and breakfast, and sometimes that’s about as consistent as it gets, but if there’s limited blurts, and variables at play, I start about 7 AM and end about 5 PM. I accomplish what I can, and what I can’t, I don’t.

What is your favorite place on the ranch? Thus far it’s a tie between the Mogote pasture and the sunsets from the Alamito headquarters. 

How are you getting to know the community around you? Through the spring works, brandings, and general neighboring, I’ve been getting to know our neighbors and friends of the ranch, as well as picking up some seasonal horse shoeing work. 

What is a skill you have learned that you now feel confident in? I would have to say fixing fence: it’s a never-ending task, but without it, you may as well throw your breeding program, grazing plan, and neighbor relations out the window. 

What is something about your job that challenges you? The slow learning process of knowing when to ride up, when to hold up, and when to shut up.

What is something that has surprised you about the experience so far? How wonderful gentle cattle are to handle, and how handy a cake feeder can be. 

What are you looking forward to in the rest of the season? More time horseback, pushing critters around, and hopefully; an eventual in person NAP Apprentice get-together.

REFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH

I first felt the call to agriculture just out of high school. I was fully caught in the woes of the current socio-economic systems and environmental concerns with no intentions of going to a university, and just enough personal direction to think I could save the world; so I took a few classes at the local junior college to give myself the academic and metaphorical tools to be the next social and environmental messiah. I was swiftly reminded that I don’t learn in a classroom and felt a pull to get out and learn through working in agriculture, because while there’s a lot more problems out there that I can’t tackle, working on and stewarding a piece of land is a lot more productive than complaining about the sky falling.

After working on primarily vegetable and smaller diversified organic, and biodynamic operations for the past 4 years or so, it was affirmed for me that I feel called more towards livestock and forage production, and less towards production vegetables. I just don’t have the right temperament for weeding endlessly, and melancholically watching your plants disappear to pests both vertebrate and invertebrate. I felt the call towards following the dream of being a cowboy, or more specifically; I felt like furthering my agricultural education by learning what it takes to create an edible, nutritious protein from a landscape that’s otherwise (for the most part) inedible and not suitable for row crops, all while furthering the sustainability of your operation and benefitting the natural ecology of your landscape through building natural resilience and using living power and minimal inputs.

Through my apprenticeship at Sol Ranch, I hope to gain an understanding of what it takes to make that happen; I hope to gain a deeper knowledge of the biological systems of the ranch, the planning, the horsemanship and low stress stockmanship, the fencing, the number crunching, and everything else that goes into getting delicious grassfed and finished beef from conception to plate. It has been a privilege to be here and work here thus far, and I look forward towards the days to come, and the unfolding of the season.

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