Schultz Ranch8 Month Cattle Ranching Apprenticeship near Grass Range, Montana
We are a fourth-generation cattle ranch. We are a cow/calf operation, selling steers in the fall, wintering the heifers, and marketing them at various times throughout the year. The Schultz Ranch uses rotational grazing and low stress cattle movement throughout the year and works with numerous government agencies to monitor bird species, herbaceous species and percent cover. Our ranch goals center around improving our operation by increasing the use of electric fences in order to use rotational grazing to improve soil health, increasing direct beef sales of our grass-fed and finished beef and maintaining and increasing ranch profitability to make our operation more sustainable for our children.
Meet the mentors
The ranch was founded in 1910 by Nick Schultz’s Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother, Great-Uncles, and Grandfather. We are the 4th generation working it with the 5th generation being raised here. Our three young sons are an integral part of our daily operations, we do lots of things as a family and we include each other in many facets of our operation. We are excited to have an individual that wants to be here and learn from our family.
Regenerative Ranching Philosophy:
We use rotational grazing and low stress cattle movement throughout the year. We work with government agencies monitoring bird species, herbaceous species and percent cover. Our goals center around the word improvement:
1) Improved grazing efficiency through electric fence utilization and water development (leading to better water infiltration and soil health),
2) Improving on the Red Angus genetics of the cow/calf program through artificial insemination
3) Increased direct beef sales of our grass-fed beef
4) Maintain/increase ranch profitability to make our operation more sustainable for our children.
I would describe our work rhythm a little jazzy with a whole bunch of western two step and a touch of old fashioned waltz.
What will an apprentice do?
Throughout the year, we focus on marketing grass fed beef, there is lots of flexibility in that job. All of it is very dependent on the break-even costs for cattle. We attend various meetings involving government agencies and local producer groups for educational purposes.
Desired and required attributes and skills for a Schultz apprentice:
The successful candidate should be willing to work on electric fence, be comfortable in large machinery, handle horses, and most importantly be patient with children. We can work through most any issue as long as honesty and effort are applied to the situation. The applicant does not need to be proficient in the aforementioned skills, but there must be a willingness to learn. The individual should be a self starter that requires minimal supervision. My family has been running cattle for a while and we have a passion to improve the herd and care for them the best we can. Every cow deserves 100% of our effort. In our community, it takes years to create a good reputation and minutes to create a bad reputation. We pride ourselves in being good neighbors and honest. We expect the same with anyone that works with us.
Nick and Marti Schultz: Family is important to us, and anyone that works here becomes an extension of our family. Our sons have a tendency to take to our “helping hand” as the 5 year old says, so being tolerant of the kids is a must! We work together as a family often and take the extra time it sometimes requires to get everyone involved in a project.
We would like to mentor an apprentice because my wife and I enjoy it. We enjoy the “youthful exuberance” that young adults bring to the ranch. I usually enjoy the question ”Why?” That question helps me maintain a good reason to do the things we do, to question the things I do out of habit or tradition, and it keeps me thinking how to work outside the normal paradigm. I have been training young adults for fifteen years now. I hired and trained young adults for three years while I worked for the Bureau of Land Management and I have hired seasonal help since I took over the ranch from my parents twelve years ago.
We have had young people work with us from New York state, Maine, Michigan, and Iowa.
Nuts & Bolts
Start Date: Ideally, March 1, 2021
Length of Apprenticeship: 6-8 months
General expected work hours: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m with an hour off for lunch – Monday through Saturday. There are days you will be expected to start work early and work past 6 pm. Once we start a project, sometimes we need to finish it on the same day. We are flexible which day you take off if you need to conduct business in town. Most everything in Lewistown, Grass Range, and Winnett are closed on Sunday and Saturday.
Stipend: $80/day with potential raises as the apprentice gains experience and skills. 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 have a bunkhouse available. We expect the house to be kept tidy and left as clean as it was when you arrived! Your last paycheck will not be handed over prior to the house inspection. If it is left dirty, one day’s pay will be withheld.
Internet and cell service: We have internet available, however, it is up to the applicant to activate the service. There is intermittent cell service depending on the carrier you have. If cell phone use is abused during the work day, you will be asked to leave your personal device behind and you may or may not be given a ranch phone.
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: In general, Saturday or Sunday will be the preferred day off. However, we are flexible which day you take off if you need to conduct business in town. Most everything in Lewistown, Grass Range, and Winnett are closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Visitors & Family policy: Visitors are allowed for two days at a time. Prior discussion about ranch activities and what is convenient for the Schultz family and the ranch business. Housing is for the intern only, there will be no extra people allowed to live with the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship.
Food: We provide lunch every day on work days. The bunkhouse has a full-service kitchen where you can prepare other meals.
Pets: No pets permitted
Tobacco & Alcohol: It is ultimately preferred not to have tobacco around, but will be allowed in limited areas. No smoking is allowed in buildings, or areas where there is a lot of dry grass. We also ask that it be kept out of contact with our children. Alcohol is tolerated after work, unless it becomes a problem with work performance. Drinking is not tolerated while we are working and it will be cause for immediate removal. In addition, marijuana use is not permitted 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: We will provide vehicles for work use. A valid driver’s license and a clean driving record for use of work vehicles is required. Some of the trucks are manual shift so you must know or be willing to learn to drive one.
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 not a washer or dryer in the bunkhouse, but you will have access to use ours when needed. This has never been an issue with prior seasonal employees. Please bring your own detergent that may be kept in the laundry room.
Additional items an apprentice should bring: Bring any personal items you need. The bunkhouse is fully furnished including bedding and towels. The kitchen is also furnished with all dishes, pots/pans, and appliances including toaster, toaster oven, microwave and coffee pot. There is also a TV and DVD player. Both riding and work boots are recommended (can be the same, but lace ups are not suggested for horseback riding). Muck boots are also recommended as is head covering/sun protection. We have saddles and tack for your use, but you’re welcome to bring your own if you have it.
Living at the Schultz Ranch:
We are located between Grass Range (10 miles of gravel) and Winnett (16 miles of kind of gravel). Both are small towns with basic facilities: local grocery stores, churches, gas stations, post offices and bars. Winnett even has an outdoor pool open in the summer! If you’re a musician, a county music lover, or a Two-stepper, Grass Range is mighty proud of their “Jam Session” every third Sunday of the month. We get our mail in Grass Range and you are welcome to receive mail at our PO Box in our care.
We are are 40 miles from Lewistown where there is a chain grocery, banks, movie theater, bowling alley, library, mechanics, tire repair facilities, etc. Lewistown has many community events that you can look into through their Chamber of Commerce page including a large Cowboy Poetry gathering in August, the Chokecherry Festival in early September, and rodeos, headline music, and car derbys at the Central Montana Fair in July.
Billings is 100 miles away (less than a 2 hour drive) where you will find any major shopping opportunities and large venue events at the Rimrock Arena as well as Billings/Logan International Airport.
There are many beautiful drives you can take on your off days. We are only 50 miles from the beautiful Missouri River and Missouri Breaks country. There are ample hiking and fishing opportunities close by or within easy driving distance! There is different landscape each direction you travel from here.
“I am three generations removed from a time when my family owned their own sheep and cattle ranches so my level of experience has been limited up until starting this apprenticeship. However, my desire to learn and be a part of the ranching life style has been a great asset in this life changing endeavor and I am thrilled to be a part of this amazing learning experience. Since arriving at the Schultz Ranch in Grass Range, MT in mid-April, I have had a chance to experience and learn a plethora of knowledge. As the season progresses, I would like to continue adding more skills to my repertoire which will start me off on the right foot as I pursue a career in agriculture.” –Excerpt from the New Agrarian Voices Blog
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