Are you an aspiring farmer hoping to be immersed in a farm that’s ‘got it all’? Are you hoping to learn about multiple kinds of livestock, spend time in the garden, help with the farm store, and work with farmers who are also raising some free-range kiddos? Join Jillian and Brett in their adventures on Blue Ridge Farms.
About the Farm
Brett and Jillian started farming in the spring of 2011. They have slowly taken down the old corrals and built new ones, and filled them with cattle over the years. They are now a 400 head cow-calf ranch and raise pastured poultry and pork. They are a family farm passionate about connecting people to their food. They provide families with nutritious beef, pork, poultry, eggs, honey, sourdough bread, veggies, and more. Food is sold at their own farm store as well as at the farmers market. Jillian and Brett are raising four kids along with growing their farm, and are excited to share the experience with a passionate young farmer.
About the Apprenticeship
An apprentice will join Jillian and Brett with their day-to-day activities. For their pastured poultry operation (chickens and turkeys) this will include moving poultry tractors daily, feeding, watering, and caring for the animals. For the cattle operation, this includes putting mineral out, checking cows, checking and mending fences, moving cows either on horseback or in the gator. Treating sick cows, trimming hooves, annual calf brandings, choosing cow-calf pairs and taking them out to specific pastures are also on the roster. Other farm activities include collecting eggs, weeding the garden, pruning trees, and collecting/splitting firewood.
From time to time, an apprentice might also help in the farm store which is open every Sunday from 1pm – 4pm, and throughout the week by appointment. They stock products from other women-owned or family-owned businesses such as sourdough bread, raw honey, veggies, garden seeds, preserves, coffee, home decor and more.
As part of the apprenticeship, you will meet with other apprentices across Alberta who are part of the Young Agrarians Apprenticeship program. Field days, learning opportunities and potlucks will be planned with this group at each host’s farm. You will also be invited to attend the 2023 Organic Alberta Conference.
About the Farm Mentors
Brett and Jillian Byers began growing their own food because they love being self-sufficient and knowing how their food is being raised. They also realized how darn good it tastes. They are passionate about providing this quality of food to other people and connecting others to the land where it is grown. They have four little kids, 400 cows, and a whole bunch of other farm animals.
Brett’s dad Les is around very often, and he tends to animal health as he is a vet. Jillian’s dad, Barry, is often around too and he is also very knowledgeable about cattle and farming.
Skills this farm has to teach
|PASTURED PIGS||Farm store sales|
|LIVESTOCK HEALTH||DIRECT MARKETING|
|Pastured chickens||COW CALF OPERATION|
|FARMERS MARKET SALES|
Skills Required of the Apprentice
Being physically fit and willing goes a long ways.
Housing, Stipend and Duration
Blue Ridge Farms have a fifth wheel trailer that has a double bed, a pull out couch that turns into a bed, a kitchen with a sink, fridge and stove top, and a bathroom with a shower, sink and toilet. It is hooked up to sewer and looks over our nearest pasture and farm store.
There is WiFi available. Though there is no laundry facilities available, there is a laundromat in Whitecourt which is 20 mins away. We will supply some meat and veggies from our farm.
This apprentice will be from May 1st and last until Thanksgiving. A wage/stipend package will be offered.
About the Community
The hamlet of Blue Ridge is 20 minutes from Whitecourt which has all the major amenities. The farm is 1.5 hours from Edmonton. There are lots of little towns with farmers markets, summer fairs, horse shows, etc. There some little ponds for fishing and swimming within 10 minutes, and a couple rivers for tubing. We ride horses for checking cows in the spring and summer, and we do some snowmobiling in the winter.
Deadline to apply: February 15th, 2022.
Interested in an Apprenticeship but this isn’t quite the right one? Check out other Young Agrarians Prairie Apprenticeships being offered in 2022 here.