J Bar L Ranch

8 month cattle ranching operation in Centennial, MT

The Ranch

Nestled within the Centennial Valley, the J Bar L Ranch encompasses 20,000 acres of deeded and leased land. That’s 5,000 acres more than the entire island of Manhattan. A holistically-managed cattle ranch, the J Bar L is dedicated to continuing the valley’s historic ranching tradition while stewarding the Centennial’s stunning and complex rangeland ecosystem. Depending on the cattle’s grazing rotations, you may or may not see the cattle during your stay. However, you are sure to witness some of the numerous wildlife that call this valley home.

Regenerative Practices

We are seeking to move the ranch into a self-sustainable system, opposed to a self-destructive one that is reliant on our in-put and manipulation to stay afloat. Everything that we do has to sustain and nurture in increase in life and biodiversity (including a large variety of wildlife from wolves, beavers, grizzly bears, coyotes and more). We look for ways to use fewer in-puts for the sake of defending against, and more ways to align with natural processes that sustain us all. We graze our cattle on open range year round, moving them as herd units across the ranch. We do not use pour-ons, chemical sprays or fertilizers, nor do we use artificial growth hormones or implants. We are currently experimenting with how to lift our water table and stop irrigating all together through a combination of strategic grazing management and beaver and riparian area restoration. We are also experimenting with bale grazing, and short duration grazing in the winter to reduce compaction and increase microbial activity in the soil. Finally we are participating in a soil carbon project, to sequester and then sell carbon credits. 

 

Check out J Bar L Ranch’s Instagram

 

The Mentors

Andrew & Hilary Anderson

Please check back soon for detailed bios. 

The Apprentice

What will an apprentice do?

Our apprentice would work on our ranch in all the different aspects of the operation. Duties would include assisting with a variety of work pertaining to land and livestock health, performance, improvement, resilience.

Jobs would include but not be limited to:  

  1. Herding, handling and moving cattle by horseback and foot (a little work by ATV)
  2. Implementing our grazing plan and monitoring (soil, range, animal performance)
  3. Assist in tracking and recording pasture use, death loss, etc. 
  4. Identify and assist in treating sick or injured animals 
  5. Fencing:  maintenance, set up and take down (perm and temp fence systems)
  6. Assisting in production events such as vaccinating, brandings, ultrasounding, weaning
  7. All round ranch jobs like putting out mineral, checking water, running generators and other small engines, small engine up keep, hauling livestock or horses, general up keep/clean up around corrals and the ranch  
  8. Assist in work related to our grassfed beef program (working directly with this group of animals, sorting, hauling, as well as assisting in direct to consumer sales of our beef)
  9. Assist in conservation related projects across the ranch (might include gathering data, monitoring, tracking wildlife, collaborating with agencies and managers, etc.)

What skills and traits are required in an apprentice?

 

  • creative, responsible, mature, enthusiastic, positive attitude, pleasant to be around, team player,  willing, flexible, open minded with a strong desire to learn and improve

  • From a skills stand point, if our apprentice is going to work by horseback, they MUST be experienced horse people. It is simply too dangerous to put a beginner into a big, rugged mountain situation. We are not equipped to teach beginner or even intermediate horsemanship. Our apprentice must be experienced OUTSIDE of an arena and have some experience riding young, green horses. If they cannot ride well, they will be much more limited in job and experience options with us. As long as they can ride, and WANT to keep learning, we can teach the other skills. However, Depending on the skills and interests they come with, we can absolutely consider co-creating a job that applies their strengths and interest even if that does not include horse work. 

  • They also should be able to hike several miles in the mountains on a daily basis) or again, their job and experience options will simply be more limited. 

What skills and traits are desired in an apprentice?

 

  • experience driving trucks (with manual transmission)
  • experience operating ATVs
  • some experience working in the back country or mountains (it is best that the apprentice not be too overwhelmed by big country that is far from town)
  • experience hauling trailers
  • experience using or running various types of technology (computer programs, good at navigating tech challenges, has an eye for how tech can improve efficiency in the business) 

Nuts & Bolts

 

Start Date: March through November 

Length of Apprenticeship: 8 months

Stipend: $1000/month

General work hours: 

Housing: Housing is most likely shared in spring and early summer. The apprentice would have a private bedroom in a shared house. Depending on the apprentice’s job, in mid summer they would move to a “cow camp” setting in a private camper trailer. Once cattle are moved out of the mountains they would return to a shared housing situation.

Laundry: The apprentice housing has a washer and dryer but is shared with other employees. 

Internet availability: It would depend on where the apprentice was living at what time of year, but yes, generally we have access to cell and internet but the apprentice might have to drive to a specific site to get service. Generally, if the apprentice is in a house, there is service. If they are in a camp, they would need to drive to a house for service. 

Cell Phone Service: Best provider is Verizon. 

Time off: 1 ½ days off per week, We generally aim for the same days off per week but varying ranch needs can cause that to change. Flexibility is needed in planning days off. But again, we aim to be as consistent as possible. 

Visitors policy: We try to accomodate visitors but it must be discussed with us prior to the visit. 

Food: Ranch meats will be available to the apprentice as well as produce from my garden. I love to garden and always plant to much and usually get so busy with the ranch that it gets slightly neglected. There will be at least one shared meal a day and plenty of time off to go to town when needed.

Horses:  If the apprentice is working by horseback they must supply at least one of their own horses (and no more than 3) that is fit (mentally and physically) to work in the back country. In addition to their one go-to horse, If they choose to bring a young horse, we will gladly help coach them and their horse in preparation for riding out. We love working with people and their horses! 

Dogs/cats/pets:   employees are welcome to have pets under the following conditions:

  • All pets are well behaved in and around shared living spaces. It is not acceptable for a dog or cat to interfere with quality of life of other employees (i.e. constant barking or chasing, jumping on furniture in a shared house, etc.)
  • All dogs are under strict voice command OR kept on a leash at all times
  • No dogs are left unsupervised that will chase or harass cattle or wildlife at any time
  • No dogs are allowed to be used to work livestock until “okayed” by Hilary and Andrew. 
  • If dogs are used to work cattle, there must be a strong desire to handle dogs according to LSLH principles. If dogs cannot be controlled and/or effective at working according to LSLH then the dogs will not be allowed to work stock. 
  • No dogs that are a threat to humans are allowed on the ranch.
  • No dogs are permitted at HQ in Centennial Valley unless heading out for cattle work. Dogs at HQ must be confined within a vehicle or trailer at ALL times.

Tobacco and alcohol use: No tobacco use is permitted. Legal and appropriate alcohol use is ok outside of work hours.

Guns: Must be discussed prior to employment. 

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.

COVID-19 policy: This seems to be ever evolving. At this time we acknowledge the existence of covid-19 and the serious health threats it posses. Yet we are unclear as to the most reasonable actions to take for the sake of keeping everyone safe. Therefore, we aim to be transparent and respectful of the boundaries asked for by individuals and “check in” about how individuals are feeling. We do not require social distancing or mask wearing among the ranch team. Most of our neighbors are very lax about covid and do not hesitate to shake hands and hug. Therefore, personal boundary setting is a must for individuals. We will respect and support the boundaries needed by the apprentice (acknowledging that we are somewhat limited within a shared housing, shared vehicle and shared work environment). We do ask for a 14 day quarantine should the apprentice travel. We also ask for an overall high level of consciousness and respect shown by wearing a mask and social distancing when in town and general avoidance of congregating outside of the ranch community in off-time. We also everyone to stay home if they are not feeling well and to be transparent about their situation.

Ranch vehicles: The apprentice will be allowed to use ranch vehicles for all ranch work activities. This is a privilege that can be taken away if the apprentice proves inept at taking care of vehicles or being careless while driving around ranch.

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 an apprentice should bring: As many personal items as they can bring the better (so they are most comfortable and at home), but anything they do not have will be provided.

Living at J Bar L: Check back for more info here. 

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.

 

 

 

Applications for 2021 will open on November 1, 2020

If you have any questions about J Bar L, please email NAP Northern Coordinator Alexis Bonogofsky at alexis@quiviracoalition.org

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