Internship Blog Entry
During my time here at the University of Montana I have developed a passion for agriculture. Stemming from this passion I wanted to do an internship that followed this passion while still meeting the requirements for the course. I was fortunate enough to acquire an internship with Oxbow Cattle Company down in the Bitterroot ran by Bart and Wendy Morris.
The beginning of my internship was not what one would expect. After only meeting with Bart 2 times I was asked to watch his entire operation while living at his home for 13 days by myself. During this time I had many activities to take care of. In the mornings and nights I had to feed horses a helping of hay and slop mix while checking to see if the geothermal well was still functioning properly. During the afternoon of each day I had to feed 140 cows. The way that I fed cows was with giant 1400lb hay bales of the back of a flatbed truck using a hydro bed. The hydro bed would lift and lower the hay for me then I would drive the truck forward having the hay unroll behind the truck.
During my time spent watching Oxbow I was also entrusted with the task of getting cows ready to go to the processor in Superior Montana. This process involved sorting the cows in a sorting coral down at Miller Creek where the cows are kept. After sorting the cows and bringing the cows to the pasture at Bart’s home I had the task of making sure the cows were taken to the processor. This involved helping a friend of Bart’s load the cows in a cattle trailer which is much easier with two people. Another task I had to complete when watching Oxbow was filling beef orders. A date and time was left for me as to when the customer was coming to pick up their orders. My job was to take boxed orders from the chest freezer and make sure that they were received by the customers.
Recently in my internship I have been building electric fence with Bart to wean the calves from their mothers. To do this we sorted and organized all of the equipment for building electric fences. After loading up all of the supplies we took them to Miller Creek and started setting the fence. This involves setting posts and plastic pieces to existing fencing to allow for the poly line to run along the fence without grounding out by contract with the existing fence.
By working alongside Bart I have learned many things already. I have learned how to interact with horses and cows in a different way than I have before. I have also learned more about the idea of stockmanship and its importance in the world of ranching. Working with my hands I have learned how to build different things like fences and enclosures. Using tools and operating equipment came easy for me even before this internship but I have found by doing these tasks on a regular basis that I have gotten even more efficient at them. I think the most interesting thing I have gotten to lean and do so far is operate the hydro bed while feeding cows.
When relating ranching to wilderness and civilization it is easy to see the close relation between the two. When we are doing anything on the ranch Bart is always showing me the reason we do things a particular way. By running livestock where we do and how we do as well as the way we build things and where we building things is all about strengthening the relationship between ranching and the natural world around us. Besides raising high quality grass fed beef our mission is to have the biggest positive impact on the land and animals around us as possible.