Wondernut Farm dairy intern/caretaker

Contact information
Farm Address:

Big Oak Flat , California , 59859

Primary Contact: Carrie Piesen
Secondary Contact:

Primary Phone:
    Number: 732-512-7739
    Email: carrie@wondernutfarm.com

Secondary Phone




Internship information
General Farm Description: "Wondernut Farm is an upstart, entirely off-grid working farm-stead located on 38 acres in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, just west of Yosemite National Park. Now entering our fourth year in operation, we're striving to create a resilient, fertile living space, while also educating, building community, and serving as a small scale agricultural business incubator. <br><br> With a semi-revolving cast of assorted characters, we've established a sheep and goat micro-dairy (and its preliminary fencing, milking, and handling systems), developed a pastured heritage pig breeding operation, constructed an assortment of funky sleeping and storage structures using largely found materials, cultivated 2/3 of an acre of fruits and veggies for our hungry selves, planted 90 fruit and nut trees on home-constructed bioswales, installed initial PV solar electrical and gravity fed water systems, cleared 10 acres of pasture land using pigs, sheep, goats and saws, and generally had a blast doing it all. Conditions here are somewhat primitive but becoming more civilized by the day. Over the next few seasons and years we plan to construct a commercial kitchen with various food preparation spaces and cellars, continue to experiment with alternative building techniques, develop a fodder system and integrated methane digester, and keep streamlining our animal systems. Our curre nt farm population consists of 37 goats, 22 sheep, 25 pigs, 12 chickens, 3 cats, 2 livestock guardian dogs, and depending on the day, anywhere from 3 to 15 humans. "

CRAFT Member Farm? No

Internship Starts: 7/15/2017
Internship Ends: 3/15/2018
Number of Internship Available: 1
Application Deadline: 7/31/2017
Minimum Length of Stay: 7 months+

Internship Details:

“We're looking for the right candidate to work alongside our dairy manager for 6 weeks, learning the ins and outs of the sheep and goat show, before she leaves to work abroad for the winter. Then, from late August through February, the intern-turned-caretaker will oversee daily animal chores and be responsible for the general health and welfare of our growing herd of spirited ruminants. Daily chores include feeding, hand milking, moving and maintaining electric fences and rotating the animals on pasture, and continuing to implement our milk sales program. The caretaker will also be responsible for breeding several of the girls, monitoring and addressing health concerns of individual animals as necessary, and dealing with miscellaneous small plumbing or carpentry repairs. He or she may occasionally be responsible for the twice daily feeding of our pigs, though this task will be shared with other farm inhabitants. On average chores should take 3-4 hours a day, but often will take more, depending on fencing, health, or other needs as they arise. Once chores are complete, the caretaker can spend the rest of the day participating in as much or little in farm life as he or she wishes. Opportunities for projects abound, either autonomously or working closely with others: helping in the garden or in the kitchen (cooking, cheesemaking, fermenting, etc), on various construction tasks, and/or relaxing and working on projects of their own. Other farm-dwellers will be available for support with physical tasks and occasionally might be able to cover a milking session or evening feeding, but in general the caretaker should expect to be busy for a few hours every morning and at least an hour every evening, 7 days a week.”

Educational Opportunities: "The caretaker will acquire a broad proficiency in small scale sheep and goat dairying, ruminant health and nutrition, and understanding and implementing holistic, management intensive rotational pasture and grazing concepts. Depending on enthusiasm and interest, he or she will face open-ended opportunities to expand horizons on organic gardening, construction, plumbing/electrical systems, pig breeding, orcharding, cheesemaking, and all things off-grid living."

Skills Desired: "We're looking for a caretaker to begin as an intern by mid-July, and then be ready to take on dairy manager responsibilities from the end of August through the end of February. Prior experience with animal care and husbandry is strongly preferred, and a serious commitment to the health and well-being of the herd and the land is a must. Familiarity with or a strong interest in pasture, dairy, and cheesemaking all serve the applicant well. The ideal candidate is diligent, dynamic, positive, creative, flexible, open, happy, well-adjusted, handy and hard working. Attention to detail and a love of animals is necessary, and since winters here are unpredictable, real fortitude and a willingness to take on possibly challenging conditions will go a long way. Fitness is important, familiarity with tools is useful and a history of having done hard physical work is preferred. Solid communication skills are absolutely required - we'll do our best to be straightforward and open, and expect the sam e. We believe what we're building is quite special, and hope to meet others that share the same fundamental motivations as we do, and who desire to gain as much as possible from the experience of living and working with us. "

Meals: "Omnivores do well here, but anyone who can fend for themselves will do just fine regardless of diet. During the busy season meals are shared, and access to high quality healthy food is improving every day - in addition to our own beautiful milk, cheese and eggs, we occasionally enjoy our home grown meat, and this year's garden has made every meal a feast. Winters are a little quieter, but meals are mostly still shared and anyone spending time keeping the garden happy is free to enjoy the fruits of their labor."

Stipend: "From the end of August through February, the dairy caretaker will be paid a weekly stipend (negotiable with experience), plus free housing and reasonable fruits of the farm (milk, eggs, some pastured pork and vegetables in exchange for helping in the garden and pig feeding)."

Housing: "Winters in the Sierra foothills are erratic and could be perfectly balmy or rainy and cold for weeks or months on end. Our kitchen and living room spaces are all outside under roof, and because the dairy facilities are outside as well, there will be plenty of days when hands and teats are chilly. That said, each winter has been more comfortable than the last, and the newly constructed caretaker cabin is a comfy and stunning vantage point for watching the seasons change and the grass turn green. Mobile internet service is sketchy but available (Verizon has the best network)."

Preferred method of Contact: email