The Home Ranch is located in Northwest Colorado in the town of Clark, 18 miles north of Steamboat Springs. Clark is a small ranching community that is surrounded by national forest land. At the Home Ranch we strive to do things correctly and well, but we like to say we are on the journey of figuring out exactly how that is. We look forward to sharing with an apprentice how we aim for happy and healthy livestock, land, and people within our operation.
The Home Ranch itself is a 500 acre ranch in Clark, however the Home Ranch also owns another 1,000 acre ranch a couple miles down the road, and has a couple lease properties we graze cows on in the Clark area. Our cow/calf herd spends most of the summer grazing in the Routt National forest, which borders the Home Ranch. Our yearlings and cow/calf herd graze through the ranches, and forest, in pastures often divided up by electric fence. We also have a large property on the Utah border, near Dinosaur, a couple hour drive from Home Ranch. We often go out there to help with branding, or large gathers, or with fence catch up – usually just a day or two at a time, but it will be valuable to see another property (a large one) and how things operate differently there.
The Home Ranch has a land and livestock program, a beef business, and a performance horse program, so you will get exposed to it all! We have several teams keeping the various departments and properties functioning, so at the ranch you will learn how agriculture and livestock, property maintenance, and horse programs all intersect, and take good communication to run efficiently.
The Home Ranch is owned by a family. One daughter and her family live on the ranch full time. The parents live on the ranch seasonally and their other daughter and family are frequent visitors. When they are on the ranch, they often bring visitors, in which case we lead horseback rides, or take out fishing trips for the day. Hospitality is an important skill to develop in the ranching world these days, since often you will be interacting with outside guests for events or visits on the private land space. The Home Ranch is a great place to develop those skills. The appearance of the ranch is also a high priority. Keeping facilities and equipment clean and organized, lawns mowed, etc. can be just as important as livestock care and pasture management. The ranch itself has been undergoing renovations, so there are often construction crews on site as building renovations and landscaping projects are getting completed, so it often feels busy with activity.
- We plan our grazing to allow for longer rest periods.
- We rotationally graze with electric fence.
- We check and move cows on our larger unfenceable areas often (forest permit), to minimize negative impact to water sources or any one area.
- We monitor by checking pastures while grazing, and then periodically afterwards – to take note of improvements that could have been made.
- We track our grazing to plan for the next year and to avoid overstocking.
Michael Moon and Layna Jansen
Layna Jansen will be one of the main mentors, along with a new cattle manager to be hired in winter 2022, and Michael Moon. Michael Moon is the general manager of the Home Ranch. He worked in Clark 20 years ago, and then came back to the Home Ranch nine years ago as the GM. You will definitely move cows with Michael, and have some great talks about management and holistic thinking from his extensive experience in the ranching world – but a lot of the day-to-day will be spent with Layna and the new cattle manager. They will oversee daily agricultural operations on the ranch, as well as ranch projects, grazing planning, cow moves, and our beef program.
Layna started working at the Home Ranch nine years ago as a wrangler leading guest horseback rides. Now she coordinates grazing for the ranch properties, and the beef program, as well as coordinating ag/cow needs with the performance horse program.
We also have a handful of other wonderful, knowledgeable staff that would love to work with you too for certain jobs, if the work they are doing appeals to you, like our maintenance manager or our horse barn manager.
What will an apprentice do?
Working with Layna might look like setting up an electric fence to move our horse herd to a new grazing area, or sorting off fresh yearlings for our performance horse program, or helping haul horses or cows around. We might be taking pasture inventory at one of our ranch properties down the road, before boxing and shipping out beef. If your day is spent with Fritz you would start it learning hay meadow flood irrigation from him, and might also do a project in the skid steer or tractor clearing trails or ditches or building new hard fences. Or you both might ride out on horses and move the yearling herd to a fresh pasture, before taking some of the owner’s guests down to the river and teaching them how to fly fish. Other tasks might include horse packing salt to the forest, hiking up a trail to chainsaw down trees, subbing in before a busy guest weekend to mow or weed wack, scraping corrals, or organizing electric and hard fence supplies.
What skills and traits are required in an apprentice?
- Good working in a team
- Helpful if a comfortable rider
- Observant and willing to ask questions about our system
- Positive attitude when longer/later work days come up
- Physically comfortable walking/hiking, carrying heavy things, and moving throughout the day.
- Able to engage with team members, guests, etc with a positive attitude, and enjoy it! This is more often a busy/bustling property than a quiet one. So while there will be plenty of moments of peace and quiet, it more often than not isn’t, here. If your ideal position is majority quiet solo time, we probably aren’t the right place.
Skills that An Apprentice would expect to acquire:
- Safe use of equipment on the ranch, including trucks, trailers, atv’s, and tractors.
- The care and feeding of cattle and horses.
- Fencing basics on hard fences and building temporary electric fences.
- How to assess the pasture for condition and quality and when to move livestock in or out of each pasture.
- How to irrigate a hay field and maintain our irrigation ditches.
- How to move and sort and load cows, on foot and horseback.
- Understanding the basics of a beef business, if interested.
Working for the Home Ranch will develop horsemanship skills, such as moving and sorting cows horseback, and packing to drop mineral or clear trails in the forest. You will also learn about building electric fences and improving hard fences as we continue to develop good rotational grazing practices on our properties. Pasture inventory rides and grazing planning will occur often, so you will learn how we decide to move through pasture rotations, and why. Working with different department team members, such as the maintenance crew and landscaping crew on various projects will show how fairly large, diverse operations delegate tasks but coordinate often, to keep the ranch properties running efficiently. Occasionally helping guide horseback rides or fishing trips will help develop your hospitality skills. You also will be exposed to the process of grass finishing, and the selling of beef.
Nuts & Bolts
Start Date: Ideal start date is April 15th, 2023 and the ideal end date November 15th, 2023. Dates are somewhat flexible.
Length of Apprenticeship: 7 months, however we do try to be as flexible as we can with whatever time constraints that you may have.
Stipend: Pay is calculated at $15/hour and a 40 hour week. Housing costs $400/month. Stipend, minus taxes and housing, will be paid at the end of each month.
General work hours: We begin our days at 8am (unless an earlier start is needed for a job). Often it will start with horse/feeding chores or helping muck stalls, before moving into irrigating, and then either a ranch property project, or an electric fence build day, or a ride out to move cows. The days are varied as it goes with ranching, and the priority is always the animals. We aim for the day to wrap up around 4:30pm, but it sometimes goes later. In the spring it is often all hands on deck getting fences checked and up after the snowy winters, and then summer is more project time and checking forest cows, before moving into fall cattle working days.
Housing: Housing is provided in a modest ranch cabin a couple minute drive or 10 minute walk from ranch headquarters. The cabin has a kitchenette. Washer and dryer are provided in the housing area. You would have neighbors in other cabins around you, but you will have the cabin to yourself. While the amount of staff each year varies slightly, you will have several neighbors around living in the cabins next door. (There are about five housing units in that area of various sizes). Usually the staff are people in their 20’s or low 30’s helping with landscaping, fencing, etc. on the ranch. The house will have furniture and a small amount of kitchen supplies. However, plan on bringing or stocking with some kitchen supplies that are important to you. There are also great thrift stores (Lift-Up in Steamboat Springs) that you could check out to stock your kitchen/house with more items.
Laundry: Available in the housing area.
Internet availability: WiFi is available in the housing area… but better quality in certain areas/houses. Ranch offices have wifi, as well as the Clark store (0.5 miles from Ranch) as back up.
Cell Service: Service is good. Verizon and AT&T are the best providers.
Time off: Saturday and Sunday will be the off days. Occasionally as it goes with ranch work, and on a ranch property that often has guests, there will be tasks that can’t be put off for the weekend, or all hands on deck needed for a busy guest weekend. However we can try to make up that time off another day if the week allows. If you ever were to want a 3 day weekend for a trip away, we can definitely do our best to accommodate. We want you to explore the area!
Visitors: Apprentice will be allowed to have visitors, however try to plan it with your mentor just in case there are important ranch jobs going on that are not conducive to hosting time.
Food: No meals provided (30 minute lunch break during work day for you to return to your housing and cook/eat). Beef cuts can be purchased for an employee discount.
Pets: Well behaved dogs are allowed. (Must be able to follow you without leash and not harass livestock).
Horse Use: We do our cow moves on horseback, so while we can definitely teach and work on horsemanship while you are here, it would be helpful if you are a comfortable rider. We have plenty of horses to cater to varying ability levels.
All the fun stuff: Tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis use in moderation are permitted at your housing area/in your off time.
Guns: Requires permission from GM, Michael Moon. Permission granted on a case by case basis. Must be properly and safely stored.
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. We carry Workman’s Compensation to cover injuries incurred on the job.
Ranch Vehicles: Apprentice will use ranch vehicles for work, to include trucks and side-by-side vehicles.
Personal Vehicle: A personal vehicle is highly recommended for apprentice independence on their time off and to get to town for free time activities/errands.
Additional items an apprentice should bring: Good footwear. You will ride horses, so investing in a pair of riding boots will be great, in addition to hiking boots or more comfortable work shoes. Work gloves for fencing etc are also important to have. Also, a good pocket knife. Clark always cools off in the evenings, so you’ll want a few good jackets and sweaters, but the days most of the summer are in the 70’s and 80’s with strong sun. Bring sunscreen and good sunglasses! If you have certain kitchen/house items you like we recommend bringing them. Bedding is provided, but bring your own if you like. Bring your own towels.
Living at the Home Ranch:
- Grocery shopping: There is a Safeway, City Market, and Walmart in Steamboat Springs. A 30 minute drive from the ranch.
- Dining: There are a few places to eat in Clark, a 5-20 minute drive from the ranch. Otherwise Steamboat Springs, 30 minute drive, has plenty of dining options.
- Entertainment: Steamboat Springs has plenty of music and events going on. In Clark there is dinner music at one of the restaurants each week. There will be a handful of other summer staff members working on the ranch, who often do evening activities together. Clark also has awesome hiking, biking, fishing and boating!
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.