Contact informationFarm Address:
Durango , Colorado ,
Primary Contact: "Monica Pless, New Agrarian Program Director, Quivira Coalition"
Secondary Contact: Becca James
Internship informationGeneral Farm Description: "Dan and Becca James run a very progressive dairy and cheesemaking operation that departs in significant ways from conventional production. They operate seasonally, milk cows once a day, leave the calves with the mothers for ten weeks, and feed absolutely no grain to the cows. Ecological concerns and animal welfare are top priorities. Connecting people to their food source and producing nutritious, ethical and delicious food are at the core of what Dan and Becca do. </br></br> The nature of dairy and cheese-making is that a daily routine comprised of specific duties must be completed in a timely manner, without exception. Early mornings, late nights, and long days are often part of this routine. Cheese has to be made every other day so the bulk milk tank doesn't overflow. The intensity of this routine is balanced by down-time in the winter when the cows and Dan and Becca rest. Making most of their milk into cheese allows for this downtime while providing a product that is saleable throughout the winter. The cows calve in the spring as animals in nature do thus aligning with their philosophy of operating as close to nature as possible. </br></br> Their operation goes "beyond organic" in its management methods. They make decisions holistically, taking into account the impact of each decision on the land, air, water, wildlife, livestock, soil, microorganisms, local community, and the farmers' quality of life. Their Jersey cows are raised without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hormones or antibiotics; by following the cow's natural milking season, the James' gain more time to focus on their family in the winter months, thereby enhancing their quality of life. This kind of thinking pushes the James Ranch beyond sustainable agriculture into the realm of regenerative agriculture that actually builds soil, ecosystems, communities, and opportunities. "
CRAFT Member Farm? Yes
Internship Starts: 3/7/2019
Internship Ends: 11/15/2019
Number of Internship Available: 1
Application Deadline: 1/1/2019
Minimum Length of Stay: 8 months
“The apprentice will work and learn during the intense time of the year (March-November), and so will need to come prepared to work hard and see the immediate and rewarding results of their efforts. Although the apprentice will get to know Becca and spend time learning from her, the bulk of apprentice learning will occur while working with Dan and Tarryn. This eight-month apprenticeship has been offered through an ongoing partnership between James Ranch Artisan Cheese and the Quivira Coalition New Agrarian Program since 2010.
The apprentice will receive hands-on experience in dairy management and cheesemaking, as well as other activities required on a diversified farm.
This person will work closely six days a week with Dan, Tarryn and Henry milking cows, moving the herd, making cheese, and maintaining the cheesemaking and aging facilities. In addition, a number of other activities may be incorporated into the day, depending on the apprentice's interests: care of laying hens, pasture management, bookkeeping, herd health, care of pigs, irrigation, chicken/turkey butchering (late summer). Time off during these months is limited. Fall is a slower time of year, with more time for visiting family, attending workshops, etc…
This is a full-time, intensive education and professional training program requiring fifty to sixty hours a week, sometimes more and sometimes less. One of the joys as well as the challenges of farming is living and working with the rhythm of the seasons, and the work schedule follows the demands of season, weather, and animal needs. As an example, in the height of the season the schedule looks like this:
Sunday: milk cows and make cheese all day.</br>
Monday: general ranch/cheese-room maintenance work, or possibly a day off.</br>
Tuesday: milk cows and make cheese all day.</br>
Wednesday: same as Monday.</br>
Thursday: milk cows and make cheese all day.</br>
Friday: milk cows, bottle herd-share milk, time for projects (June-September: Telluride Farmers' Market 7:00 am to 7:30 pm).</br>
Saturday: Durango Farmers' Market in the morning, with some rest-time following. Livestock care in the afternoon.
Enthusiasm and a sincere commitment to sustainable agriculture and food production are more important than experience, though experience with large animals and dairy is a plus. Due to the limited time available (eight months isn't that long to learn everything about cheese and dairy!), apprentices only get a small taste of the other James Ranch family enterprises. We understand that many of our applicants are interested in someday running a diversified farming operation of their own, but we want to be sure that all potential apprentices are excited about the FOCUSED nature of this training opportunity with James Ranch Artisan Cheese.
Time off: One day off per week provides a healthy break for the apprentice. There may be times when a day off is not possible, but other times (especially in the fall) when two days off per week might make more sense. The work pattern follows that of nature; when everything is busy and producing and growing, farmers do the same. When nature begins to slow down, there is a natural decline in activity. Some apprentices save up days off so they can take several consecutive days to go visit family or attend a class or workshop, when the ranch/dairy schedule can accommodate this time away.
Visitors: Durango has a large tourist draw. As a temporary resident, the apprentice may experience that draw through requests for visits from friends and family. 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 Dan and Becca.
Pets: It will not be possible for apprentices to have any pets with them during the apprenticeship. Apprentice housing is directly above the ranch store and cheese room, and it needs to be maintained as a place where the public feels welcome and safe.
All the fun stuff: No smoking or drugs on the ranch. James Ranch is a completely non-smoking environment. No partying in the apprentice housing.
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.
Ranch Vehicles: All 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.
Living in Durango, Colorado: The James Ranch is about ten miles north of Durango, Colorado. Durango is a dynamic town with lots of culture, coffee shops, a farmers market, good restaurants, several micro-breweries, and a community that loves outdoor activities. Apprentices are encouraged to become involved in the community, work and ranch-life permitting; past apprentices have loved the balance of the quietness of the ranch, and the bustling town of Durango.
In the Animas Valley, at 6700 feet, summers are warm, often with monsoon rains in July and August. The daily summer highs are between 80 and 90 degrees, with lows in the 40s and 50s. Spring and fall can involve snow, freezing temperatures, and periodic wind.”
Educational Opportunities: "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, complete courses through Holistic Management international on whole farm and ranch planning, biological monitoring, financial Management and Business planning and marketing. Apprentices will also attend the annual Quivira Conference, hosted with Holistic Management International and the American Grassfed Association, in November. "
Skills Desired: "Enthusiasm and a sincere commitment to sustainable agriculture and food production are more important than experience, though experience with large animals and dairy is a plus. Due to the limited time available (eight months isn't that long to learn everything about cheese and dairy!), apprentices only get a small taste of the other James Ranch family enterprises. We understand that many of our applicants are interested in someday running a diversified farming operation of their own, but we want to be sure that all potential apprentices are excited about the FOCUSED nature of this training opportunity with James Ranch Artisan Cheese. "
Meals: "Apprentices will be responsible for taking care of their own food budget, but the James Ranch will make some contributions of meat, cheese, milk, eggs, and some veggies that are produced on the ranch."
Stipend: "The monthly stipend is determined each year, based on available funding; it is typically around $700 take-home pay. This is paid bi-weekly, 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 share a beautiful two-bedroom apartment on the ranch, located above the ranch store and cheese room. He or she is expected to maintain a clean space. All utilities are included in housing at no additional cost to the apprentice, though the apprentice is expected to be conscientious about energy use. "
Preferred method of Contact: email or online application at Quivira Coalition website