Two Dot Land & Livestock

8 month cattle ranching apprenticeship near Harlowton, MT

The Ranch

Twodot Land & Livestock (TDLL) is a 5th generation family owned ranch ten miles south of Harlowton, MT.  The American Fork, a perennial stream, flows through the center of the ranch lined with cottonwoods and willows and is fed by numerous springs that originate on the ranch.  The 12,000 acres is primarily flat or gently rolling with about 1,200 acres of breaky scattered timber country on the south end.  The ranch is well suited for a year-round grazing livestock operation given adequate winter shelter, lots of live water, and chinooks that blow the snow free.  Annual precipitation averages approximately 13” and the bulk of that is received April, May, and June, perfect for reliable high quality cool-season growth.

TDLL runs around 1,000 SAU’s year round.  We rely on a diverse revenue stream to try to add flexibility to our stocking rate and maximize profit per acre: custom grazing pairs and yearlings; an owned cow/calf herd and heifer development program; retaining yearlings; in the past on a larger scale finishing 2yo grass fats and more recently doing that on a smaller direct to consumer level; fishing & hunting enterprises; and ventures into smaller scale multi-species grazing with goats, sheep, and chickens.  For 2021, we’d be calving out about 500 pairs starting in late April, running a group of about 100 replacement heifers, and custom grazing a group of 120 yearling bulls for a seed stock producer.  We use horses for a majority of our cattle work and most all other work is done on ATV’s.


Under the Big Sky episode:


Regenerative Practices & Ranching Philosophy

We practice Holistic Management and Intensive Planned Grazing. Our goal is to address root problems not symptoms by focusing on whole systems thinking and adding resiliency to the ranch’s financial, ecological, and social resource bases. From a grazing standpoint, we graze year round with a small stockpile of hay for bad stretches of winter.  The ranch is divided up into 70 permanent pastures and we utilize temporary electric fence to further subdivide those into smaller paddocks.  Depending on time of year and class of livestock, most grazes are between 1-7 days with stock densities ranging from 5 SAU’s/acre to 200 SAU’s/acre.  We use Land EKG transects to monitor range and soil health.  We also practice Low Stress Livestock Handling as taught by Bud Williams, and believe strongly that cattle are amazing, humbling teachers.

The Mentors

Stuart & Kathleen co-manage TDLL for the Jones family, with Zach Jones (5th Generation) as a General Manager.  Apprentices will deal predominantly with Stuart & Kathleen.  Stuart takes the lead on the livestock side of things, while Kathleen heads up the land management and financial side of things.  Both of us got our starts in ranching thru internships and apprenticeships, and because of that greatly value the opportunity to provide the same opportunities we had to other people.  We also greatly value learning from people who come into ranching from different backgrounds and offer unique skills, perspectives, and bring new energy to the operation. 

Stuart: is from Helena, MT and grew up backpacking, hunting & fishing in MT before heading off to the University of Chicago to get a BA in Biology in 2008.  He started ranching 9 years ago thru a 3 month internship at the Chico Basin Ranch in Colorado.  There he fell in love with the work and lifestyle of ranching.  The need to be mediocre at skills across the board from mechanicing to horsemanship to monotonous manual labor and the need to continually be learning more about all those skills.

Kathleen: Kathleen is from Leonia, NJ originally just over the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan.  While she loves where she’s from, she always knew her desire to be on bigger landscapes rather than in bigger cities would take her to different places.  After graduating from Skidmore College with a BA in Environmental Studies in 2009, that desire and her love for horses got her started working as a wrangler on a guest/working-ranch in Wyoming in the summers and doing conservation work in the Southwest in the offseason.  From those experiences, she learned of Holistic Management which combined her love for conservation and working with livestock.  She shifted from her seasonal work life to full-time ranching at the Chico Basin Ranch as well, where we met.  We have been working/ranching together for the last 9 years now, married for 3, and just welcomed a baby boy into our family on October 7th, 2020.

The Apprentice

What will an apprentice do?

The apprentice’s responsibilities revolve around day-to-day operations on TDLL. You will work in collaboration with TDLL managers. Core responsibilities include:

  • Cattle: Assist in managing up to 4 herds thru our intensive grazing system.
    • Prioritize the health and well-being of the cattle under our care: treat them as our co-workers.
    • Utilize low-stress livestock handling techniques and see every interaction with our cattle as an opportunity to improve our stockmanship.
    • Monitor cattle performance: observe cattle behavior and temperament, note changes in manure and BCS.
    • Monitor cattle health: doctor cattle when necessary and keep diligent records.
    • Assist in feeding hay when necessary: balance with grazing options, record consumption, and observe cattle performance to monitor/replan feeding program
    • Supply mineral/salt and record consumption.


  • Fencing: Intensive grazing requires intensive fencing.
    • Put up and take down temporary electric fence.
    • Build new permanent electric fence.
    • Check and fix existing fences—electric and hard.
    • Grazing: Be knowledgeable and engaged in the ranch’s Holistic Grazing Plans.
    • Help monitor and record grazing observations: % utilization, species palatability, actual vs planned harvests, rate of regrowth, amount of litter.
    • Be actively involved in adjusting grazing duration and density based on cattle and grass observations.
    • Take part in grass assessments and grazing re-plans throughout the season.


  • Help maintain clean and organized work spaces in the shops and barns.
  • Complete routine maintenance checks and servicing of trucks, ATVs, tractors, and other equipment.
  • Help complete long term ranch infrastructure improvement projects.
  • Meet weekly with ranch managers to plan the week’s work schedule and provide updates in our morning check-ins.

What skills and traits are required in an apprentice?

  • Willingness to learn, solid work ethic, positive attitude, and past experience working long hours doing manual labor.

What skills and traits are desired in an apprentice?

  • Past experience with ATV’s, manual trucks and heavy equipment, fencing, livestock, and horses.

Nuts & Bolts


Start Date: Late March/early April

Length of Apprenticeship: 8 months

General expected work hours: 8am – 5pm Mon-Fri, 8am – 12pm Sat, Sundays off. Ranch work requires being flexible with those hours and working longer days/weeks when necessary.  We value time off though, so if it’s been a long few weeks or month, we’ll strive to make sure people get a Fri-Sun to make up for it.  During calving season there tend to be some level of chores to do on weekends so typically we’ll alternate doing chores on the weekends so people can have a Sat-Sun off one week and do chores on Sat-Sun the next.

Stipend: $1,200/month or DOE

Housing: Housing will be provided on the ranch at The Camp. The Camp is a 900 sq ft studio style cabin with full kitchen, wood stove, indoor bathtub/shower, washer/dryer, and outdoor outhouse and shower. It is located about a ¼ mile from the ranch headquarters and sits a few hundred yards from the American Fork cottonwood bottom.  Furnished with table and chairs; couch; queen bed; rugs; dresser; tableware and utensils; pots, pans and other kitchen stuff all provided by TDLL. Note the primary heat is the wood stove and firewood is provided but you need to split/stack it yourself.  Also note that the bathroom is just an outhouse, so when it’s cold outside it can be a chilly trip!  We’ve had some Ranch Hand’s work around that with a bucket in the house but to each their own!  Electricity, internet, and firewood are all provided by the ranch.

Laundry: There is a washer/dryer in The Camp

Internet and cell service: There is internet at The Camp.  They put in fiber optic cable into the ranch 2 years ago, so it’s a good fast connection (capable of streaming videos, Zoom, etc.)

Time off: Half day Saturday and all day Sunday.  7 days of paid time off (includes vacation, personal, and sick days) can be taken during the 8 months.  We value time off and see it as a very important component to a creative and fulfilling work environment and strive to make sure adequate time off/vacation time is provided.  The following Observed Holidays (New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas) are additional paid days off.  However, although we make an effort to decrease works loads around these Holidays, depending on our work schedule the actual day may not be allocated time off.  If the employee works on those Observed Holidays, they are able to count an additional day off of their choosing. Employees are able to substitute a different Holiday for any of the Holidays listed above. 

Visitors & Family policy: Visitors are allowed.

Food: ¼ beef will be provided. Includes ground, steaks, and roasts.

Pets: Pasture is provided for 2 horses.  Outside pets are no problem, inside pets it depends on the situation.  We use dogs to work stock and are open to an Apprentice using theirs, but they must fit within the context of how we want to handle our cattle.

Guns: Bringing guns is fine.  The apprentice would have the ability to fish and hunt on the property.

All the fun stuff: No smoking in ranch buildings, especially The Camp.  No alcohol use on the job.  Outside of that, just don’t be dumb.

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 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.

COVID-19: TDLL expects any apprentice to use common sense when in public including wearing a mask when it is required by businesses and/or local and state regulations. We also expect our apprentice to practice social distancing as much as possible when in public. With the assistance of Quivira, we will monitor the COVID situation in our community and may ask the apprentice to take additional precautions depending on current transmission rates.

Ranch vehicles: The apprentice will be allowed to use ranch vehicles for all ranch work activities. This is a privilege that can be taken away if the apprentice proves inept at taking care of vehicles or being careless while driving around the ranch.

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.

Additional items an apprentice should bring (i.e. bedding, towels, etc):   Personal items and work clothes.

Living at the Two Dot Land & Livestock: The apprentice would live about a ¼ mile from headquarters.  There are 3 different houses at headquarters where the Ranch Managers Stuart & Kathleen live, the ranch owners live part time, and a Guest House that is used a handful of times a year.  It’s a private, quiet, experience.  The apprentice is able to recreate on the ranch and the 5 different mountain ranges within 60 miles provide lots of opportunities too.  The biggest challenge our Ranch Hand’s usually face is creating a social life for themselves.  Harlowton, a 15 min drive, has a brewery, a gym, a couple bars, and a restaurant but overall is a pretty quiet town for a younger person.  Apprentices are included in some of our social life, but with a couple month old baby in tow, you can imagine that has its limits.  Point being, living on TDLL takes someone who is independent, enjoys time by themselves, values outdoor recreation over city amenities, and is ok without much of a social scene outside of what they create on their own.

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.


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