Hay Creek RanchIntensive rotational grazing cattle operation focused on regenerating soil, honing genetics, and educating the community
Hay Creek Ranch LLC is a cow/calf operation based just southeast of Denver, Colorado. It is made up of 12 properties leased from various types of entities. Jamie Hull and his full-time employee Ben Perez use strategic intensive rotational grazing with cattle on each leased property and have focused their management on genetic selection to avoid the use to vaccines, dewormers, or any winter supplemental feed. They have strategically culled large percentages of their herd in years past to achieve cows that “act like deer and elk” in terms of hardiness. The ranch achieves income from several channels: selling seedstock (bulls and cows), selling commercially, and processing beef for direct-to-consumer sales, something that Jamie would love an apprentice to help with.
Since the ranch is made up of different leases, it is a cross-section of different types of terrain, ecological habitats, and forages. This part of Colorado can be diverse ecologically, with grasslands, caprock, shrublands, conifer forests, and riparian areas. They also utilize several types of water infrastructure and fencing, which will expose an apprentice to a diversity of methods for moving and watering cattle.
One of the leased properties, Prairie Canyon Ranch, which is owned by Douglas County, has many restored historic buildings that are now used for event space. Jamie and Douglas County work together to host events for regional landowners about responsible pasture management, since the ranch borders the sprawling residential properties expanding from Denver. This education piece can be an opportunity for the apprentice to gain experience in outreach and communication skills.
Hay Creek Ranch utilizes a suite of tools to bring life back to the properties it manages. This includes intensive rotational grazing, spraying compost teas, and sowing cover crops. Their management has eliminated the need for chemical inputs or hay feeding.
Jamie Hull and Ben Perez
The apprentice at Hay Creek Ranch will work with the primary mentor, Jamie Hull, and his full-time ranch hand Ben Perez.
Jamie grew up in an Air Force family with members who had been involved in agriculture, but Jamie never lived on a ranch growing up. He has a degree in Physics and loves sciences and engineering. This led to a career he still maintains in land development and construction. He started ranching in 2008 and has grown to love regenerative agriculture. He prides himself in having an open mind and a love for learning. Between his job, ranching, and wife and five children, Jamie likes to stay busy.
Ben Perez started with the ranch part-time in November of 2018 and went full-time in June of 2019. Ben loves this job because of the ability to be outdoors and be around livestock. Ben has experience as a wildland firefighter and sawyer and now trains horses on the side. Care of the livestock is his passion. “I always strive to be the best caregiver I can be and a great steward of the land. Grazing management/soil life and its direct correlation to animal health excites me and I would love to pass my knowledge on to anyone that is also interested and passionate about it. I always look forward to meeting new people and passing on my knowledge and I hope to maintain good relationships and learn new things together so we can each be the best we can possibly be!”
What will an apprentice do?
A list of work duties would include but not be limited to:
- Grazing planning, range assessment, and livestock moves for cattle
- Calving assistance
- Filling water troughs, checking cattle, building polywire and other types of fences, branding, sorting, hauling cattle
- If interested, apprentice can work on building a website and developing marketing for the ranch
- Community education at workshops hosted at Prairie Canyon Ranch
What skills and traits are required in an apprentice?
- Good attitude
- Open mind, willingness to learn, curiosity
- Active lifestyle- some days will include miles of walking for fence construction
- Character driven
- Energy and vigor
What skills and traits are desired in an apprentice?
- Able to ride a horse
- IT/website design skills
- Able to drive side-by-side, ATV, and vehicles with manual transmission (can teach if need be)
Nuts & Bolts
Start and End Dates: Ideal start date is mid-April and end date mid-November
Length of Apprenticeship: 7-8 months
Stipend: The stipend for this position is $1000/month. The stipend may or may not cover monthly expenses for the apprentice based on his or her needs and lifestyle. The position does not allow time for a second job, so the apprentice should consider his or her budgetary needs before applying to this position.
Housing: Apprentice housing is a 2 bedroom/1 bathroom living space in the downstairs of a cabin at Prairie Canyon Ranch Headquarters. Ben and his wife live in the unit upstairs. There is a kitchen and dining area.
Laundry: A washer and dryer are included in the housing.
Internet availability: WiFi is not available in the house, but cell service is great and it’s possible to set up a Hot Spot. Apprentices can use wifi at facilities 10 minutes away.
Time off: One day off a week. This can be flexible but will probably be Sunday.
Visitors policy: Apprentice will be allowed to have visitors however we do not allow extended periods of stay (more than three days). We can be flexible with extenuating circumstances.
Food: Apprentices are expected to handle and cook their own food.
Pets: Pets are generally not allowed. Perhaps small pets like indoor cats might be okay, but mentor will approve on a case-by-case basis.
Tobacco and alcohol use: Tobacco and alcohol use in moderation are permitted on site.
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. Hay Creek Ranch LLC 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
COVID-19 policy: There are no requirements regarding Covid-19.
Ranch vehicles: Apprentice will use ranch vehicles for work, such as trucks, ATVs, and side-by-sides (4×4). Some may have manual transmission.
Personal vehicle: A personal vehicle is highly recommended for apprentice independence on their time off but is not required for the apprenticeship.
Additional items an apprentice should bring: Apprentices are welcome to bring their own linens, towels, and gear needed for work. This may include durable footwear, appropriate winter wear, and gloves.
Living in Franktown, CO: This ranch is a little unique in that apprentices will have fairly quick access to town. Apprentice housing is 7 miles away from a town with restaurants and smaller stores, and 10 miles from larger grocery stores. Cell service is great everywhere and during off-time, the apprentice can explore many local hikes and city attractions.
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.
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