Moe Cattle RanchEight-Month Cattle Ranching Apprenticeship in Two Dot, Montana
Moe Ranch LLC is a multigenerational ranch located in the upper Musselshell River valley near Two Dot, MT. We have cow/calf, stocker and haying enterprises.
Meet the mentors
Our ranching philosophy:
We want the land we manage to be biodiverse with a healthy mix of plants, animals and microorganisms and to have healthy water and mineral cycles. We harvest as much energy from the sun as possible and seek to have 100 percent cover of our soils with living plant material and litter. Conservation and environmentally sound management practices have always been a priority for us. We fenced out riparian areas, converted 75 acres of poorer quality hay ground into wetlands, invested in wind energy and invested in irrigation infrastructure improvements that reduce erosion as just a few examples of innovative conservation practices implemented over the years. For the past five years we have made a big push to carry that ethic further and integrate regenerative practices into our operation wherever possible. We have eliminated our conventional small grain farming enterprise and started using warm and cool season cover crops to renovate our lower producing hay fields. We use no till practices wherever possible in lieu of conventional tillage. We use managed intensive grazing where possible and have converted several of our irrigated hay fields into grazing cells for running yearlings or pairs. We are currently enrolled in the Ranch Management Consultants Executive Link program which has proved to be an invaluable asset in moving our ranch toward our vision.
We have a long history of hiring, training and mentoring entry level employees. Sharing our knowledge and our way of life is part of our vision for the ranch. We are hoping to hire an apprentice who is passionate about regenerative agriculture and who will challenge us to grow and learn while we share our knowledge and experience. Agriculture is a profession that requires a broader knowledge base than any profession I know of. It requires self-directed learning, adaptability, innovation and humility to be successful. I am truly excited to share my passion and knowledge of ranching regeneratively with someone who has the courage to make a beginning in this profession.
Skills we would like to have in an apprentice:
- Some experience and comfort around cattle or other livestock would be helpful but is not required. We have trained several employees who had no experience with cattle. Some of them have become expert stock handlers.
- Some experience with machinery and large vehicles would be helpful as well but is not required.
- Some familiarity with Holistic Management or Ranching for Profit concepts would be ideal. Familiarity with Managed Intensive Grazing concepts would be ideal but not required.
Skills an apprentice will learn:
Cow Calf Enterprise: Duties and skills an apprentice can expect to be exposed to when working with the cow herd include:
- Calving and other spring time activities- learning to recognize and handle basic dystocia’s, learning to recognize and treat basic calf and cow illness, stockmanship- turning out new pairs, moving large bunches of new pairs, working cows and calves through the corrals at branding.
- During the summer- grazing planning and range monitoring, conventional barb wire fence repair and maintenance, moving large bunches of pairs through our rotational grazing system, maintaining and monitoring livestock water systems.
- During the fall- working cows and calves through the corrals using low stress stock handling techniques at preconditioning and pregnancy testing time.
- We have newly constructed corrals at our home ranch and our leased ranches designed with low stress stock handling and human and cattle safety in mind.
- Shane is a licensed veterinarian so an apprentice with an interest in animal health and husbandry could expect a lot of exposure and help in learning to design vaccine programs, intervening with dystocia and sickness, etc.
Yearling/Stocker Enterprise: Duties and skills an apprentice can expect to be exposed to when working with the yearling enterprise include:
- Developing and implementing grazing planning using permanent and temporary electric fencing and conventional fencing. Designing and installing hi tensile permanent electric fence grazing cells and water systems. We are in the process of improving our grazing infrastructure at home and an apprentice can expect to have an active role in that process if desired.
- Recognizing and treating illness in stocker cattle.
- Low stress cattle handling- with daily moves. There will be lots of opportunity to get experience training yearling cattle to be easy and fun to work with.
- Range monitoring.
Haying and Farming Enterprise: The purpose of our farming enterprise is to produce high quality forage for our cattle, whether the cows harvest it themselves or we harvest it and put it in a bale for wintertime feeding. Duties and skills an apprentice can expect to be exposed to when working in the farming and haying enterprise.
- Irrigation: both flood and pivot irrigation and a basic understanding of how water rights in Montana work.
- Harvest of hay using wildlife friendly management practices.
- Equipment operation and maintenance. We have a relatively new and safe fleet of haying equipment and farming equipment and we are committed to caring for it properly and operating it safely.
- Farming- we have mostly gone to no till farming practices but occasionally still use conventional tillage when appropriate or when no till techniques can’t meet our objectives.
- Planning and planting cocktail cover crop mixes- we use both warm season and cool season cover crops as a tool to improve soil health and to increase productivity on our less productive farm ground.
Working On The Business Stuff: Working on the business (WOTB) is an essential part of our operation. WOTB time is the time we dedicate to economic and financial planning. It is also time that we spend making our ranch a better place to work, play and live by developing better systems for our owners and employees to work within.
- An apprentice can expect that we will share our knowledge of economic and financial projections, building and following a budget, share our knowledge and experience with writing and following employment agreements, and other WOTB essentials.
Shane Moe: Moe Ranch is a family owned and operated livestock and farming/haying business. The owners are Richard and Alicia Moe (2ndgeneration) and Shane and Jane Moe (3rdgeneration). Shane and Jane have two children, Maya (18) and Audun (12) that are sometimes involved in the ranching operation. We usually have one or two part time or seasonal employees. Shane and Jane moved home to the ranch in 2011 after Shane sold his veterinary practice in Deer Lodge, MT. Shane is the CEO, CFO and head of the livestock division for Moe Ranch. Shane serves as a board member on the Musselshell Watershed Coalition and also serves on the FSA county committee. Jane is active on the ranch when needed during our busy times of year and helps with strategic planning on the ranch. She is a fulltime employee at the local hospital where she is part of the leadership team.
Richard Moe: Richard is the second generation to work on the ranch. He purchased the ranch from his father Audun in the 80’s. He developed a custom haying business and a backgrounding enterprise before getting back in to the cow calf enterprise in the 90’s. He is an expert mechanic and machinery operator and has mentored many young employees over the years. He heads the farm division. He and Alicia own Cream of the West, a hot cereal company in Harlowton. Richard and Alicia are easing in to retirement. Both take a role in strategic planning on the ranch.
Start Date: March 15, 2020
Length of Apprenticeship: 8 months
General expected work hours: The typical work week is from 7:30 to 4:00 Monday through Friday and 7:30 to 12:00 on Saturdays.
Stipend: $1,200/month. We will consider a stipend for appropriate continuing education opportunities and would consider a fair amount of paid time off. The apprentice will be put on the payroll as a W-2 employee with workers compensation insurance provided by the ranch and administrative and working conditions in full compliance with local labor laws.
Housing: We are in the process of working on appropriate housing, details will be forthcoming. We will have a decent clean private space for intern housing by spring 2020, it will probably be a small cabin or something similar. We do not have internet service where the housing will be located but there is good cell service and an apprentice could use the wi-fi at our home for downloads and or computer time or get a hot spot.
Internet and cell service: We do not have internet service where the housing will be located but there is good cell service and an apprentice could use the wi-fi at our home after work or in the mornings for downloads and or computer time or get a hot spot.
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.
Time off: Saturday afternoons and Sundays off. We also would provide seven days of paid time off at the beginning of the employment. If the apprentice preferred to have a weekday off, I could accommodate as long as they were able to perform their duties with minimal supervision on Sundays.
Visitors & Family policy: Visitors are welcome as long as having them on the ranch does not interfere with the apprentice’s duties. Visitors are welcome to participate in ranch activities with approval from ranch management. Spouses or partners would be welcome to live on the ranch as long as it does not interfere with the apprentice’s duties.
Food: We will provide ranch raised beef to an intern and will consider a stipend for groceries depending on what salary we agree on. Plan on being invited over for dinner and socializing with our family occasionally and when we entertain.
Pets: The ranch is not opposed to pets but it would have to be on a case by case basis. Anyone wanting to bring a working dog would have to demonstrate that the dog has sufficient training and experience to be in control at all times. We do not use horses to move cattle.
All the fun stuff: Smoking in the buildings or anywhere/anytime fire danger is a risk on the ranch is prohibited. If they apprentice wants to smoke in an area where there is zero fire risk, it is fine.
Health Insurance: The farming 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: We will provide vehicles for work use. A valid driver’s license and a clean driving record for use of work vehicles is required.
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.
Laundry: There is a washer and dryer in the shop office located near the housing. There is also a laundromat in Harlowton.
Additional items an apprentice should bring (i.e. bedding, towels, etc): The housing will be furnished with basic cooking supplies and furniture unless the apprentice would prefer to provide their own. The apprentice would be expected to provide their own bedding, towels etc. The apprentice should expect to provide their own work clothes: we recommend insulated coveralls, heavy coat, warm gloves and muck boots for winter, spring and fall. We will provide some of the specialized gear they will need (ie irrigation boots, helmet for use on the 4 wheelers if they want one, etc).
Living at the Moe Ranch: We believe in work life balance. We are in a beautiful part of the world and we try to enjoy it when we can. There are times of the year when we can’t live up to that commitment (mostly during calving season and the occasional time when haying gets the best of us) but by and large we try to limit the work week to 5 ½ days a week or less. We are 20 miles from Harlowton, Montana. Harlowton has a grocery store, hospital, several denominations of churches, a library and there is a brewery in town. The Harlo Music Project started a music festival that brings some decent bands to town three times a summer. White Sulphur Springs is 40 miles away with hot springs, some good restaurants and a three-day music festival every summer. The Musselshell River is literally in the backyard for someone that wanted to fish after work and the Little Belt Mountains, Castle Mountains and Crazy Mountains are all within a 30-minute drive. We would allow hunting on our property for white tail deer if someone was interested.
Applications are now closed
Check back October 2020 to apply for a 2021 apprenticeship at Moe Ranch.
Brady Lux, APPRENTICE
“The more I have learned the more I have discovered new things that I still need to learn. I am still looking for the right path towards becoming an agricultural land manager and I hope this apprenticeship is the next step toward finding it. Often the best way to understand how to do something successfully is to watch someone who is doing it. More so than specific physical skills, I came into this apprenticeship hoping to see how someone puts all the little pieces together. There is so much diversity and complexity in an agricultural system and I think understanding how to balance all of the diverse and sometimes conflicting priorities together in a way that is successful is such an art. I think being exposed to good systems of decision making and prioritization will give me the tools to build a successful management system sometime in the future. ” – Excerpt from the New Agrarian Voices Blog
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