Richards land and CattleSheep & Cattle Ranching Apprenticeship in Oregon House, California
Richards Ranch is located in Oregon House, Ca along the Yuba River and about 1.5 hours from Sacramento, Ca. The ranch is 6500 acres of rangeland and used to graze our 500+ cows, 30+ hogs and small sheep herd. Their sister company Richards Grassfed Beef is where they send finished animals for processing and then distribution to butcher shops, restaurants and families throughout the greater Sacramento and San Francisco Bay Area.
richards land and cattle & richards grassfed beef
The Richards Ranch was purchased in 1941 by Thomas H. Richards Sr. Until recently, they always ran as a cow calf operation as well as small registered Hereford and Murray Grey programs. In 2010, Carrie and her siblings started to market the ranch’s grass-finished beef and soon realized there was a market. At the time, they were finishing about 5 head a year. They have since grown significantly to approximately 90 head per year from the Richards Ranch and are prioritizing soil health because in the end, the healthier your soil is, the healthier your cattle are, the healthier you are.
The Richards Ranch team has worked closely in the past two years to pivot the ranch to a more regenerative system and are already seeing an improvement in the land & animal health. The ranch is American Grassfed Association certified and has a yearly audit to make sure we are taking the best care of our land and animals.
They have recently finished the Savory Institute Holistic Management training and have pivoted the operation completely to improving soil health & holistic management, which they have learned quickly means moving the cattle more, in bigger groups and documenting the failures and successes of their program. A key component of the Savory program is the Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV), an empirical and scalable soil and landscape assessment methodology that tracks positive outcomes in biodiversity, soil health, and ecosystem function, such as water infiltration and carbon absorption.
They have installed monitoring points for the Land to Market program through the Savory Institute as well as through Point Blue & the NRCS. Their apprentice will have hands-on experience with creating their plan to improve their soil health, wildlife, grass diversity & livestock production. They will also see the finished product & learn how cattle flow through the entire system (husbandry, tracking, grazing, finishing, harvesting, butchering, marketing, distribution and shipping) with the end goal being to produce the most nutrient dense food possible for their customers.
When working at Richards Ranch you will be working directly with Carrie Richards, and her husband Daniel Prelip.
Carrie & Daniel: Carrie and Daniel moved to the ranch 5 years ago and have two children, Lincoln, 10, and Lucy, 8. After finishing the Savory Institute’s Holistic Grazing school Carrie and the Richards Ranch team have pivoted the operation to embracing the holistic way of ranching. They are excited to see how it will improve the land and operation as a whole. Carrie’s role is overseeing the Ranch and Marketing Operations for the Beef company. As an owner of the Ranch and Beef company Carrie will have her hand in a little bit of everything. Working with Carrie will give you insight on the full transition from soil to supper, and what it takes to get there. Carrie and Daniel moved from the bay area to manage the ranch and are so happy to have their kids growing up in the dirt and enjoying the delicious food we produce.
Attributes desired in an apprentice
The apprentice will be required to:
- Have a positive attitude
- Survive in a dusty hot environment, fall/winter temperatures in the (20 to 50 degrees) and spring/summer in the (60 to 100 degrees) range.
- Drive a pickup truck or ATV, standard transmission
- Adjust & adapt on the fly
- Live in a rural area
- Work with a team, or individually
Ideally the apprentice will have at least 2 seasons of experience in some of the following:
- Working with beef cattle, pigs, sheep or other livestock
- Driving a tractor
- Basic knowledge of home repair/carpentry skills
What will an apprentice do at richards land & cattle?
The apprenticeship at Richards Land and Cattle will run November 1-June 30. Starting in November the ranch will start receiving the 300 mother cows from Northern California. The pace in November-December is quick and exciting. Once the animals arrive the apprentice will work alongside the mentors at first, and will start moving cattle towards the back of the ranch, feeding them and checking them daily. In early January/February the ranch will receive 100+ finishers (1000 lbs heifers and steers) that will finish on the front of the property on a separate grazing plan than the mother cows. In April, the entire mother cow herd will be rounded up for vaccinations, fly tags, preg test and sorting for when the grass season hits full force in April. The mother cows will ship to their summer grazing pasture in the first week of May. The remaining finishers will stay on property through June and will harvest as they are finished. Cattle moves slow down to 2-5 day moves in June and July when the weather gets hot. At the same time the apprentice will be monitoring the sheep herd who will be lambing in the spring. The ranch is applying for a targeted grazing contract through the NRCS which may bring in 100+ ewes from April-July – TBD. Hogs will be fed daily and moved to pasture weekly in the winter and monthly in the summer. The hog grazing is used to disturb the soil in heavily wooded areas. Late summer and early fall when the weather cools down it’s time to take on projects like firewood, winterizing, fixing roads, pipelines and moving hay for the winter. Although our apprenticeship ends in June, the mentors are looking for someone for a year round position, the option to stay through the summer could be available if our apprentice chooses to and both apprentice and mentors feel it is a good fit.
If accepted, from November 2022 to June of 2023 you will:
*Duties we most hope the apprentice will develop autonomy with are in bold
- Work outside much of the time, often engaged in physical activities
- Become autonomous with checking sheep, hogs and cattle on a regular basis, doctoring, processing sheep and cattle (vaccinating, docking, branding, tagging, etc.)
- Managing ranch infrastructure maintenance, repair, and installations – help with fencing, water troughs and lines, corrals and outbuildings.
- Visual monitoring of pasture condition to determine grazing moves, helping set-up and take down temporary electric fence, moving livestock, hauling water
- Maintain high work quality standards even when working independently
- Assist with care of guard dogs and stock dogs and chickens
- Assist with bookkeeping and/or maintaining ranch records
- Work closely with your mentors daily, adding independent tasks as skills and ability allow.
- Other ranch projects and ranch-related events as appropriate.
- Have one day off a week to attend to personal matters during your apprenticeship.
- Learn a tremendous amount about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, how a small-scale sustainable agriculture operation works, and if a career in agriculture is really for you.
Start and End date: November 1 – June 30
Length of apprenticeship: 8 months
Expected work hours: 8 Hour days, 5 days a week. With the occasional 10-12 hour day when working cattle, sheep or pigs. Saturdays are usually about 4 hours.
Stipend: monthly stipend begins at $1100 and may raise depending on experience and as an apprentice becomes autonomous. This is paid once a month, and can be directly deposited to your bank. The position does not allow time for a second job, but there are opportunities for extra money to be earned on the ranch. We host farm dinners and may have other work available outside of ranch duties where the apprentice can earn extra money.
Housing: We have a small home at the headquarters available for 1-2 people. It has one bedroom and one bathroom, and if need be the family room could be turned into a second bedroom. The house is partially furnished, has a landline, water, internet, carport, wood stove, covered porch and a window air conditioning unit. The utilities are all included – though we do ask that you be conscientious of your energy use. We like to keep our housing as tidy as possible and like to emphasize that we expect our apprentice to clean their house once a week and keep the front porch and carport free of personal items. We host events and like to keep the ranch headquarters as clean as possible.
Communications: Internet connection: The houses have decent internet connectivity and a wireless connection. The ranch is spotty with all cell phone service.
Quivira Coalition Activities: This apprenticeship is offered through Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Program, but follows a different schedule from the majority of other apprenticeship opportunities. The apprentice is expected to attend the annual Regenerate Conference, hosted with Holistic Management International and the American Grassfed Association. This year the conference will take place in Denver, Colorado, November 2–4, 2022. The apprentice will have access to supplemental education calls that were conducted and recorded by Quivira earlier in 2021 and 2022. Apprentices are also required to write several short reports during their apprenticeship. These reports will go through the NAP Coordinator at Quivira and be posted on the Quivira website.
Time off: The apprentice will have one fixed day off a week. If an apprentice needs additional days for specific activities, he or she should let the mentors know as soon as possible. Be aware that the ranch and the herd dictate workflow over the course of the apprenticeship.
Visitors: The apprentice may also want to express their enthusiasm for the program by inviting friends and family to visit. We ask that the apprentice use wisdom and judgment to balance the apprenticeship demands with time available for guests. Apprentices will be asked to discuss visitors in advance with mentors.
Food: Our apprentice will receive as much beef, lamb, eggs and vegetables from the garden as they please. We do some lunches together with the whole team during the week and a weekly dinner together, but for the most part apprentices are responsible for their meals.
Pets: We have 4 dogs living on the ranch. If the apprentice has a working dog, we ask they bring the dog for the in person interview to see if they are going to be part of the team. We are open to apprentices with a working horse, but would need to have a guideline on care for the horse and discuss how the horse will fit into the program.
Drugs and alcohol: No smoking or drugs on the ranch. Partying is not allowed; having a beer or a glass of wine after work is just fine. The apprentice may not bring a personal firearm on the property.
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. Richards 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.
Ranch Vehicles: Many of the ranch vehicles are standard transmission. The apprentice will be expected to competently operate these vehicles. Apprentices must have a valid driver’s license.
Personal Vehicle: There are no instances (or very few) when the apprentice would be required to use his/her own vehicle around the ranch. In order to run personal errands and travel on days off, however, the apprentice will need the flexibility of his or her own vehicle.
Laundry: There is a washer and dryer on the premises. The apprentice may use it at any time, but be conscious of water use and others belongings.
Are there specific challenges on the operation that the apprentice could help find possible solutions to address?: We have very little irrigated pasture so our goal is to finish all our beef by July 1. This can be tough on minimal rain years, and is a constant battle we have with nature. Our apprentice will learn a great deal about ranching in a rangeland type of area with minimal water and a very short growing season.
Items an apprentice should bring: The apprentice housing comes with all kitchen utensils and bedding but the apprentice may bring any personal items from home.
Living in Oregon House, CA: The Richards Ranch is located in the rural town of Oregon House, Ca. There is a grocery store/gas station, two small restaurants and a post office nearby. It is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes from Sacramento, and 45 minutes from either Marysville/Yuba City,Ca or Grass Valley/Nevada City,Ca. It is a very quiet area and is surrounded by small ranches and wineries. The climate during the apprenticeship starts off with cool days 40-60s in November-February, then gets quite hot in the summer, May – June in the 80s and 100s. In the time of the apprenticeship, there will be lots of very heavy rain throughout the winter (hopefully!), so the apprentice should bring reliable rain clothing and boots. The elevation ranges from 500-2500 feet and is mostly covered with Oak trees, grasses and some pine trees in the high elevations. The northern border of the ranch borders the Yuba River & Lake Englebright.
“Being in my early thirties and entering a new field with such a dynamic and wide ranging spread of applicable knowledge provided a seemingly never ending torrent of information to absorb – when I was starting late and behind the curve. I wanted the mastery of an old ranch hand and the expertise of a seasoned land steward. We have global crises to address! How can I absorb faster? If I play podcasts while I’m sleeping will knowledge seep into my brain for recall later?.” – Excerpt from the New Agrarian Voices Blog
“During the course of the season, I am looking forward to being exposed to all aspects of care for the cattle, sheep and pigs, and to become familiar with the main concerns and day-to-day (care) of these animals. I hope to come away with an understanding of how to implement rotational grazing to foster more ecological diversity and improve the resilience of the land. Eventually, I hope to manage an operation combining perennial food crops and rotationally grazed animals, and I believe I will have a solid foundation for that future once I complete the New Agrarian Program.” – Excerpt from the New Agrarian Voices Blog
“After spending two years working as a harvest cellar hand in California’s (and Australia’s) wine industry, I soon realized that the agricultural product I was dedicating my time to producing was more of a luxury than a necessity, and that perhaps in order to address the broader geopolitical, socioeconomic and environmental issues surrounding farming it was intrinsic to switch my path over to growing food.”-Excerpt from New Agrarian Voices Blog
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