Indreland Ranch

8 month cattle ranching apprenticeship near Big Timber, MT

The Ranch

Indreland 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 Practices

Indreland Ranch’s vision is to be a 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.  

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.

We 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 few 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 Dave Pratt, past 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).  Plans are to meet in the upcoming year. The apprentice would have the opportunity to join in on the ranch tour with these professionals and hear their recommendations.

Map of Brussett, Montana
photo of a Band of Sheep on the Coulter Ranch in Montana

The Mentors

Roger & Betsy Indreland

Roger Indreland   Roger 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, traveling 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 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.

We have two daughters, Anne (29) and Kate (24).  Anne, Schyler and their son, Brooks (8) currently live in Texas as she pursues her passion for cutting horses.  Kate recently graduated from the University of Montana and is now Active Duty in the Army, currently at Fort Benning in Georgia.  Both daughters are engaged in the ranch and keep current on ranch happenings.



The Apprentice

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.  

The long busy days of summer are mostly consumed with irrigating and managing grazing.  Water runs 24/7 and we need to keep up with it.  We do not do any haying.  

Fall brings preparing for our bull sale as well as preg checking the cows.  We also are mindful of our forage inventory as we prepare for winter grazing.  Weaning time varies, this year we are planning to wean at the end of January.

What skills and traits are required in an apprentice?

    • Valid Driver’s License & clean driving record
    • Our apprentice should be 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.
    • 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. 
    • An apprentice that can do well here will have the willingness to learn to properly drive with primarily manual transmissions, ATVs and tractors.  This must be done with enough understanding and awareness of their surroundings and conditions to operate in the best interest of people, livestock, pets and the equipment.
    • Sense of Humor is a must
    • Enthusiasm and willingness to learn!

What skills and traits are 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
    • Engaged enough to ask questions, think on your feet, act from your observations and contribute to our operation.
    • 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!
    • A sense of humor – not every day is fun, and humor is an essential tool to get past the tough days
    • Enthusiasm for our Mission and Vision
    • Honesty and openness
    • 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 
  • All of this with enthusiasm!
Photo of Casey coulter with cows

Nuts & Bolts

Indreland Ranch will be taking 1-2 apprentices

Start Date: Start date of mid-March through mid-December (Our annual bull sale is in early December.  We would like the apprentice to stay through that week after the sale.)

Length of Apprenticeship: 10 months

Stipend: $1200 / month (Paid $600 every 2 weeks)  Note: there is potential at our ranch for advancement and/or full time employment after the apprenticeship

General work hours: 8am-5pm, six days a week (1 hour for lunch)  Weekly planning meetings are held first thing Monday morning.

Housing: A house at the ranch headquarters to be shared by the 2 apprentices.  Each will have their own bedroom and bathroom with shared kitchen and living area. It is expected that the area will be kept clean and organized and efforts made to conserve energy, minimize waste and recycle when possible. The house is furnished and 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.

Laundry: A washer and dryer in the basement of the house are available for your use.  The house is furnished and has sheets and towels. 

Internet availability: Internet is available at our house. A “hot spot” would be a good idea for internet at the apprentices’ house.  

Cell Phone Provider: Cell phone coverage on the ranch is generally good and we text and call each other as necessary. Verizon is the most reliable carrier in our area.

Time off: 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 48 hours per week.  The apprentice’s work schedule will accommodate attending NAP events and being on NAP calls.  Attendance at other educational events is encouraged as the season of work allows.  Most requests for time off for educational opportunities or personal things can be accommodated with proper prior planning.  

Visitors policy: Guests are generally welcome but must not be disruptive to the work schedule.

 Food: Beef 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, barn cats and chickens that are an integral asset and we cannot risk temporary introduction of other pets.

Horses: Horses are not used on our ranch. 

Tobacco, alcohol & cannabis use: Ranch housing, vehicles 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.

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: 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 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: The apprentice should bring any personal items, bedding, towels and work gear. 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. 

Living at 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 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 2 large chain grocery stores. 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 occasionally on a hot summer afternoon. 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 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.

A photo of Coulter Ranch apprentice housing