Hello, My Name is Tess Palmer …
I am apprenticing on the Rafter W Ranch in Simla, Colorado. Using regenerative principles this ranch, run by the Wheeler Family, is producing Grass finished beef, lamb, pastured chicken, and eggs. I arrived at the ranch in mid-March and have already grown attached to the beautiful landscape and the various critters roaming around.
I grew up in California on a ranch in the Bay Area and always felt that ranching was an effective way of preserving open spaces and producing valuable products. I was unsure how to pursue a career as a producer and partially convinced myself it might be a selfish pursuit and that there were plenty of viable careers in the ecological sciences.
Attending Humboldt State I majored in Rangeland Resources, minoring in geospatial analysis. The Range and Soils program at HSU showed me how commingled ranching and land management as a whole is to ecological function and that the doom and gloom of the status quo can and is being challenged successfully all over the world. We visited all sorts of agricultural operations and were able to participate in restoration projects meeting people whose trust in regenerative principles and outside the box thinking was paying off. I felt then that I could never do one thing for the rest of my life and I still feel that way now. I still was not convinced that I had what it took to get into the cattle business for myself. I have great pride in being from California, the West, and feel that the culture and ecological health of its rangelands are a big part of its past, present and future.
I’ve always found that the most reliable, level headed, and trustworthy people for a job are those with a lot of experiences and those who’ve sought out enthusiastic mentors. In pursuit of mentorship I struggled with the idea of hiring on somewhere knowing I lacked the skill to hit the ground running. Thinking on this I knew I had to take a big step and find direction. This is when I learned of the New Agrarian program which felt like a lightbulb-fireworks-I-can’t-believe-this-actually-exists moment.
I feel truly blessed to have connected with the Wheelers through the process and cannot wait to see what the coming months will bring. These last few weeks we have been taking care of chickens and chicks, feeding and rotating cattle through winter pasture and preparing for a busy summer. My goals are to gain experience on the ground in day to day operations of a multi species operation that utilizes high intensity rotational grazing as well as dive into the business and planning side of running a business. Every rancher’s decision making is based on an incredible number of variables, even more so when working with family, utilizing regenerative principles, and planning for drought. Experience is key in sorting through these variables and it is invaluable when problem solving and making decisions that will have rippling effects. I am beyond stoked to be here and look forward to developing an experiential knowledge base for problem solving and decision making that I can back up with action and skill.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE APPEARS HERE: https://quiviracoalition.org/2022-apprentices-13/