Triangle P Cattle CompanyRanching Apprenticeship in Mescalero, New Mexico
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Meet the Apprentice
Triangle P Cattle Company
The apprentice will also have opportunities to learn important skills for self-sufficient living including handling, training and shoeing horses, harnessing and driving draft horse teams, milking cows, butchering livestock, leatherworking, building fences and corrals, welding, maintaining water systems, repairing vehicles, and myriad other things.
Triangle P offers this apprenticeship to mentor young ranchers in range-based management practices, preparing them to manage ranches profitably, without a heavy dependence on fossil fuels, vehicles and other equipment, or supplemental feed. Emphasis is placed on the development of strong stockmanship skills and the ability to understand and manage cattle and rangeland resources carefully and efficiently.
Jeff Gossage, Triangle P Mescalero Ranch Manager, was raised in Colorado Springs, CO and was exposed to ranching at an early age. At age 20, he decided to make ranching his career and took an apprenticeship with Duke Phillips at the Chico Basin Ranch near Colorado Spring. For twenty years now Jeff has woked on large-scale ranches in Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado.
Carla Gossage is originally from Germany and has lived on ranches with Jeff since 2009. Carla had begun a career in Germany when she decide to make a life change and move to Colorado as an intern at the Medano-Zapata Ranch. She adapted to ranch life quickly, becoming a good horseman, as well as learning all aspects of ranch work and lifestyle.
Jeff and Carla are excited to join Triangle P and make New Mexico their home. They enjoy teaching others their trade as well as continuing their own lifelong education in ranching. They are fun to be around and love what they do.
Sam Ryerson, Managing Partner of Triangle P, grew up in Massachusetts and since 2005 has worked on ranches from Montana to Argentina. He is a 2010 graduate of Quivira’s apprenticeship program where he apprentices on the San Juan Ranch, and has been in Arizona and New Mexico since then. He has managed livestock successfully through years of droughts, wildfires and floods on private lands, pasture leases and Federal grazing permits. He is on the board of the Quivira Coalition and is the President of the board of the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance.
Triangle P Cattle Company offers a professional training opportunity for aspiring agrarians committed to a life and career at the intersection of conservation and sustainable agriculture. The apprentice will receive hands-on experience with a range based cattle operation, including intensive pasture management, holistic planning, intentional stockmanship,animal husbandry, herding, land stewardship, cattle marketing, risk management and business planning.
The apprentice will work closely six days a week, either independently or with Jeff and other mentors on a variety of ranching tasks including: daily cattle care: feeding, health monitoring, and pasture movements; handling cattle on horseback; building and maintaining ranch infrastructure (fences, water pipelines, vehicles); pasture planning; planning for nutritional needs of cattle at each stage of grass finishing process; monitoring forage quality and utilization. The apprentice may also work on projects supporting the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Association.
Ideally the apprentice will have experience in:
Working alone and with a crew
Working with animals
Mechanical, carpentry, plumbing and fence repair
Communicating effectively and asking questions
Working hard and staying positive
Ideally the apprentice will be able to:
Communicate goals, expectations and questions
Lift up to 50 lbs
Drive a manual transmission vehicle
Handle and ride horses independently and safely
Live in a remote, sometimes dusty and hot or wet and cold environment with rustic accomodations
Basic riding skills are preferred, and a passion for riding horses and working cattle is required. Basic knowledge of carpentry, mechanical and plumbing skills are preferred.
Enthusiasm and a sincere commitment to sustainable agriculture and food production are important. Applicants with livestock and some ranch experience are preferred. Honesty, a willingness to communicate effectively, and a desire to work hard and learn are required.
This apprenticeship is physically, emotionally, and intellectually challenging. The apprentice will be the only apprentice and one of very few employees in Triangle P, in a very remote location.
If accepted, from March to November of 2018 you will:
- Work outside much of the time, often engaged in monotonous and extremely physical activities.
- Live in a rural place, near a small town with few amenities or neighbors.
- Live in close proximity to your mentors and respect their homes and property.
- Work closely with a small team, day after day.
- Work closely with your mentors daily, adding independent tasks as skills and ability allow.
- Maintain high work quality standards even when working independently.
- Have one day off a week to attend to personal matters during your apprenticeship.
- Receive a stipend of approximately $800 per month.
- Learn a tremendous amount about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, how a sustainable ranch operation works, and build connections and community to last a lifetime.
Stipend: The monthly stipend will be paid at the end of each month, and can be directly deposited to your bank. The stipend may or may not cover monthly expenses for the apprentice based on his or her needs and lifestyle. The position does not allow time for a second job, so the apprentice should consider his or her budgetary needs before applying to this position.
Housing: The apprentice will live in a trailer at the ranch headquarters. Utilities are included in housing and are not additional expenses for the apprentice – though we do ask that you be conscientious of your energy use. Housing cannot easily accommodate a partner or spouse. Apprentices wanting to bring pets or work animals should talk with the mentors ahead of time.
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.
Food: The apprentice will receive partial board in the form of access to the ranch’s beef, milk from the dairy cow, eggs from the hens and produce from the garden, when available. The apprentice will be responsible for his or her own meals.
Quivira Coalition Activities: The apprentice is required to attend the annual Quivira Coalition conference, held each November in Albuquerque, NM; conference and hotel fees are covered by the Quivira Coalition. In addition to the conference, the apprentice will participate in an Holistic Management International webinar series geared Whole Farm/Ranch Planning Series. 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.
NO Smoking or Drugs: No smoking or drugs on ranch, range, vehicles, housing – the ranch is a completely non-smoking, no-drug environment.
NO Partying: No partying. Having a beer/glass of wine or two after work is just fine.
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 ranch carries workers compensation insurance 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: All of the ranch vehicles are standard transmission. Apprentices will need to know how to drive stick-shift. Previous experience with backing up trailers is not required, but greatly appreciated.
Personal Vehicle: While there are no instances (or very few) when an apprentice would be asked to use a personal vehicle around the ranch, the apprentice will need the flexibility of his or her own vehicle in order to run personal errands such as purchasing groceries and travel on days off. The road to ranch headquarters can be very rough, especially in wet weather, and often requires a high clearance, four wheel drive vehicle.
Living in rural New Mexico: Triangle P’s base of operations is an hour drive from Ruidoso, where the nearest grocery store is. Ruidoso is a vibrant mountain town with coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries, a ski hill and a horse racetrack. Elevations on the ranch range from 6,000 to 9,000 feet. Winters are generally mild, although in cold snaps temperatures can fall below zero at night. The landscape is made up of big open valley meadows, rocky ridges covered in juniper and oak, and some deeper canyons and higer mountain pastures of pine trees, spruce and Douglas fir.
I grew up in a county where cattle and timber were the primary resources and form of employment, so I’ve been around agriculture most of my life. In college, I began exploring ecology through coursework and agriculture through extracurricular activities, such as urban gardening, volunteering on a variety of farms during breaks, and helping to open a student owned- and operated- cafe and grocery store. Eventually, I developed a passion for applied ecology and ended up majoring in forestry, which I found to be a perfect culmination of applying ecological principles to balance resource production with land health. My interest in mimicking natural disturbance regimes to increase ecological function and land health brought me to Montana, where I pursued a second degree in Forestry, examining how restoration treatments in fire-frequent, dry forests in the Rocky Mountains could balance carbon-storage and resiliency against future fires.
After finishing school I got a job working as a forestry consultant in central Montana. I worked primarily on private ranches and land holdings across the northern Rockies. During my time working as a consultant to ranchers, I began to recognize the need for a broader, more holistic approach to private land management. In much of the Rockies, timberlands and rangelands intersect, and managing each of them separately began to make less and less sense to me. I also began to realize that my role in land management needed to be even more applied, and that my true calling is to be outside, working hard at work worth doing. Ranching fits this bill like a glove. My dream is to someday be able to work with ranches across the northern Rockies, using ecology to manage both range and timber. I would love to be able to take the management methods I learn during my apprenticeship and apply them for years to come. I’ve obviously got a lot to learn before I can do that, but I’m very excited to get started!
I’m thrilled to be working for the good folks at Triangle P this year. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t having the time of my life exploring the many ridges and arroyos of the Mescalero on horseback, struggling to improve my clumsy stockmanship, and roping the dogs far more times than they would like. My days are filled with a constant stream of learning, whether it’s from trial and error; from my fantastic mentors, Jeff, Carla, Nick, Amy, as well as many others; or from my Quivira and HMI coursework. It’s impossible to fit a lifetime’s worth of learning into one year, but if there was a place to do it, it’s definitely here. The philosophies embedded in holistic management are synchronous with my own land management and life perspectives, and I feel so blessed to have found this community. Looking forward to a great year and many more to come!
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