Wondernut Farm dairy intern/caretaker position available
Wondernut Farm is located on 38 off-grid acres in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, just west of Yosemite National Park. While in the initial stages of development and using an “everything at once” approach, we’re developing a moderately mechanized food and energy production system with intentions of creating a resilient, fertile living space, while also striving to educate, build community, and foster very small scale economic development. Now in our third year on the ground, we've established a 30+ head sheep and goat 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, 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.
We're looking for the right candidate to begin as an intern in mid-August, working alongside our dairy manager learning the ins and outs of the sheep and goat dairy. Then, while the manager works abroad from late September until early March, the intern-turned-dairy 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 (between 8 and 11 ewes and does), moving and maintaining electric fences and rotating the animals on pasture. 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.
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 same. Our dairy manager will provide as much support as possible through email and phone, but will be working remotely and won't always be available. 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.
From the end of September through February, the dairy caretaker will be paid a weekly stipend (negotiable with experience) plus free housing and reasonable fruits of the farm (milk, with some pastured pork and vegetables in exchange for helping in the garden and pig feeding).
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.
Farm or Business Name: Wondernut Farm
Location: 9301 Priest Coulterville Road, Big Oak Flat, [object HTMLSelectElement], 95305