Indreland Ranch8 Month Cattle Ranching Apprenticeship in Big Timber, Montana
Indreland Angus originated in 1977. That makes forty-three years in the registered Angus business. Our production philosophy is that cows must consistently excel at converting our basic grass resource to beef. Our Mission is to provide genetics and services that help cattle producers attain more freedom and profitability in their business and life.
Meet the mentors
Indreland Ranch is holistically managed and operated to produce healthy nutrition and environment for people, livestock and wildlife. This is accomplished by resilience to economic and environmental factors and by providing opportunities and profit to all involved. It is managed and operated by a team of motivated, goal oriented and open-minded individuals that work together in a respectful manner.
The ranch is located 13 miles north of Big Timber, MT on Hwy 191, just east of the scenic Crazy Mountains. The operation consists of a mixture of deeded and private leased ground, all of which is operated as if we owned it with the primary objective being to regenerate the landscape, building soil health and increasing biodiversity to complement Mother Nature’s system. The livestock consists of about 300 registered Angus cows with most heifer calves retained for breeding and 80+ bulls retained for our annual bull sale in early December. The bulls are sold at 18 months of age.
Regenerative Ranching philosophy:
Our ranch is run with a regenerative mindset: How can we make things grow vs. how do we kill things? We practice management intensive grazing with a lot of electric fencing required. Being forage based, our cattle run on very little hay year round. Our soil is the key to our success, so decisions are made with that in mind.
What will an apprentice do?
Since our operation is forage based, our main priority is to manage pastures/grazing and to implement those plans. This means fencing of all types (maintenance and new/temporary electric fence) and livestock handling and movement. Equipment maintenance occurs all year long as well.
In the spring, we prepare for the flood irrigation season. Calving starts about May 1 and is done before the end of June. Each calf needs a birthweight recorded, eartagged and a blood sample taken to verify parentage with DNA. We calve out on the open range with limited facilities.
Being a seedstock operation, there are many things that are required that would not be on a typical cow/calf operation.
Summer is mostly irrigating and managing grazing with an occasional trip to the lake. We do not put up our own hay.
Fall brings preparing for our bull sale as well as weaning calves and preg checking the cows. We also are mindful of our forage inventory as we prepare for winter grazing.
Attributes desired in an apprentice
There is no prerequisite to be from a farm or ranch background. Everything one needs to learn can be taught here. However, the following characteristics are desirable in an apprentice.
- Strong desire to understand and experience the good, the bad, and the ugly of operating a forage-based livestock operation.
- Must have the “WT” – the “Want To.” This goes hand and hand with a positive attitude.
- Compassionate and kind to animals and people
- Being present when present
- Willing and able to perform moderate, and sometimes hard, physical labor, work long days when needed and work in sometimes difficult weather conditions – from hot and dry to wet and muddy, sometimes cold with snow.
- Engaged enough to ask questions, think on your feet, act from your observations and contribute to our operation.
- An apprentice with the willingness to learn to properly drive with primarily manual transmissions, ATVs and tractors and with enough understanding and awareness of their surroundings and conditions to operate in the best interest of people, livestock, pets and the equipment can do well here.
- Our apprentice should be physically fit and able to hike several miles some days in steep, rugged country, sometimes carrying fence posts, wire or other loads some distances. They must be strong enough to lift, carry and stack 50-pound bags of salt and mineral. Ranch work often entails repetitive lifting, stooping and bending. and sometimes running, ducking and dodging.
- If you are curious about hydrology as it relates to water flows, volumes, distribution and absorption plus its relationship to the landscape, this is the apprenticeship for you! That is the basic knowledge you will acquire as you vigorously develop your shoveling skills during flood irrigation. Once you have learned those basic skills, you will have the knowledge and ability to manage many types of water systems. If the agricultural use of water doesn’t interest you, at a minimum you will have the knowledge to read the water to help your fly-fishing skills!
- All of this with enthusiasm!
Required attributes and skills for an apprentice:
- A sense of humor – every day is not fun, and humor is an essential tool to get past the tough days
- Enthusiasm for our Mission and Vision
- Good observational skills
- Attention to detail is very important in all areas: equipment, vehicles, tools, livestock, etc.
- Being a good communicator
- Willingness to try new things and learn as part of being a lifelong learner
- Valid Drivers License and Clean Driving Record
Roger Indreland Roger, 59, grew up on the home ranch, and started his herd of Registered Angus Cattle in 1977 as a sophomore in high school. He attended Montana State University and graduated with a degree in Farm & Ranch Management. After that he and Betsy worked together in construction, travelling on the west coast of the US and Canada. They returned to the ranch full time in the late 1990s. One of their most impactful educational experiences was attending the Ranching for Profit school in 2012 and again in 2017. They are involved with the RFP alumni program called Executive Link.
Betsy Indreland Betsy, 55, grew up in the Big Timber area, but not on a ranch. She attended University of Montana then Montana State University where she graduated with a degree in Business with a Marketing emphasis. She joined the agricultural world when she and Roger were wed in 1986.
They have two daughters, Anne, 27, and Kate, 22. Anne lives on the ranch with Schyler and their son, Brooks (6). She works on the ranch as needed but is pursuing her passion for cutting horses. Kate is attending college at the University of Montana in Missoula and is a member of the Army ROTC.
The ranch had two Quivira apprentices in 2020. One apprentice will overlap with a new apprentice for a short period of time. We also do have a couple part-time employees.
They have been working closely for several years with Agro-ecologist, Nicole Masters of Integrity Soils from New Zealand. She has been known to park her living quarters trailer on our lawn and has become part of the family! It is likely that the apprentice will have the opportunity to learn from her as well!
We also host several tours and soil health events at our ranch. The apprentice would be expected to be a part of those. In the last couple of years we have hosted a Grasslands/Carbon Sequestration Project kick-off event, a group of ranchers from Chile, a group of WWF staff from around the globe and several other ranch tours.
In addition to our oversight and management, we retain an Advisory Board consisting of Dallas Mount, owner of Ranch Management consultants (Ranching for Profit-WY), Burke Teichert, Strategic management consultant (UT), Nicole Masters, Integrity Soils (NZ) and Katie Rein, DVM, Crazy Mountain Vet Services (MT). We will be having a meeting in May or June. The apprentice would have the opportunity to join in on the ranch tour with these professionals and hear their recommendations.
What will an apprentice learn?
- Low Stress Livestock Handling
- Care of a worm farm and harvest of vermicast
- Soil amendment applications
- Adaptive Grazing techniques using electric fence
- Flood Irrigation
- Working with cow dogs
- Identify some of your personal strengths and weaknesses and possibly identify some potential long-term career opportunities in agriculture.
- The basic observations of Mother Nature’s systems and how we can manage to enhance those systems using livestock grazing and irrigation.
Start Date: around April 1, 2021
Number of apprentices: 2
Length of Apprenticeship: 8 months minimum, 12 months preferred
Stipend: $1,000/month paid monthly. The apprentice will be put on the payroll as a W-2 employee with workers compensation insurance provided by the ranch. Administrative and working conditions will be in full compliance with local labor laws.
Housing: A small, comfortable furnished living quarters within a barn/shop. It is expected that the area will be kept clean and organized and efforts made to conserve energy and minimize waste.
Internet: Internet is available at the main ranch house. A “hot spot” would be a good idea for internet at the apprentice’s living quarter.
Cell phone: Best provider on the ranch is Verizon.
Laundry: A washer and dryer at the main ranch house are available for your use. The living quarters has sheets and towels. The apprentice is expected to maintain a clean and orderly home environment and help with groundskeeping and keeping the general appearance tidy.
Expected work hours: Eight to ten hours per day with one hour for lunch and some Saturdays and most Sundays off with the exception of tending to the necessary chores and irrigation. We can be quite flexible with days off as Roger, Betsy or another employee can fill in for the required tasks for each day, however, expect no less than 45 hours per week.
Visitors: Guests are generally welcome but must not be disruptive to the work schedule.
Food: Ground Beef and occasionally other cuts from the ranch will be provided. Gardening is encouraged. There would be whole raw milk as long as you are willing to manage the milk cow! Also, eggs as available.
Pets: We have working dogs and barn cats that are an integral asset and we cannot risk temporary introduction of other pets.
All the fun stuff: Ranch housing and enclosed work spaces are all smoke free. Legal and appropriate alcohol use is OK … almost always outside scheduled work hours. We have a one and done DUI policy and being at work under the influence of any intoxicant is grounds for immediate termination. Possession of any illegal substance will also be grounds for immediate termination. We cannot tolerate compromising the safety of others on the ranch.
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 farm 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 and equipment: We will train you to operate vehicles and equipment on the ranch including pickups, pulling trailers, operating 4 wheelers, tractors, loaders and stationary equipment. If you have experience, the training period will be short, if not, we will help you achieve our desired level of competence.
Personal vehicle: While apprentices will not be asked to use a personal vehicle for work purposes, the apprentice will appreciate 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 for an apprentice to bring: We are on the east slope of the Crazy Mountains in the Chinook Zone. Temperatures can change dramatically during the course of the day so layered clothing is a great idea so you can adjust for comfort as the day progresses. Sturdy footwear, muck boots, hats, sunscreen and gloves all see a lot of use. We provide irrigation boots and your first pair of fencing gloves. Cell phone coverage on the ranch is generally good and we text and call each other as necessary.
COVID-19 Policy: Indreland Ranch expects any apprentice to use common sense when in public including wearing a mask when it is required by businesses and/or local and state regulations. We also expect our apprentice to practice social distancing as much as possible when in public. With the assistance of Quivira, we will monitor the COVID situation in our community and may ask the apprentice to take additional precautions depending on current transmission rates.
Living at the Indreland Ranch: The Indreland Ranch is located approximately 13 miles north of Big Timber, Montana, 75 miles from Bozeman and 100 miles from the largest city in the state, Billings. Big Timber has a mid-size grocery store, a new natural food store, and a variety of small businesses including a few good restaurants and bars, clothing store with quality work gear, hardware store, auto parts store, and a brew pub. Livingston is about 50 miles from the ranch and is a bigger small town with a large chain grocery store. Bozeman is the fastest growing city in Montana and has a very trendy Main Street with a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries and theaters. There are frequent live music performances. Bozeman is also home to Montana State University.
We are close to Yellowstone National Park, the Beartooth Absaroka Wilderness, and abundant public lands for fishing, hunting, hiking, backpacking and camping. You can be at the Trailhead of Big Timber canyon in the Crazy Mountains in about ½ hour. From there, it is a short walk to the falls. We are also members of the nearby Glasston Lake boat club and try to frequent the lake for water skiing and a BBQ on hot summer afternoons. There are several small ponds and streams on the ranch that can be used for kayaking, canoeing, fishing and swimming. Besides the occasional elk, black bear, mountain lion and bobcat, there is an abundance of wildlife living on the ranch including deer, antelope, coyotes, fox, badgers, snakes, skunks, racoons, gophers, rodents of all types, many bird species, pollinator insects, earthworms and the associated microscopic soil biology alive and well under our feet. We strive to observe this system and learn from it!
We are fortunate to live in a community that has several like-minded ranchers! A number of these ranches are hoping to have an apprentice, so there should be a group of apprentices in this general area.
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.
Tyler Vandermark, Apprentice
“I have always been ideologically opposed to the current corporate commercial agriculture paradigm and therefore never seriously considered a career in agriculture. I could not in good conscience contribute to the erosion of our planet and demise of small family farms. However, I realized that by entering the field of agriculture I could do all of the things that I loved while actively working to shift the mindset of today’s producers, resulting in a positive impact on the industry. I had found purpose in my life and felt a fire in my gut like I had never felt before. This realization led me to switch academic gears and finish with a degree in animal science where I gained working scientific knowledge and insight into the form of agriculture which I wished to change.” – Excerpt from the New Agrarian Voices Blog
New Agrarian News
Get information on apprenticeships, jobs, and other opportunities.
Become a member
its the best way to support resilience on western working landscapes.