Posted by Justin Girard on December 13, 2021

Calling all lovers of the land! Want to spend your 2022 summer learning and working with pasture raised livestock? McDonald Farm is inviting you to come to their farm to learn all about raising sheep, cattle, and pigs and growing beautiful, carbon sequestering grass!


McDonald Farm is located near Cartwright, Manitoba– Treaty 2 Territory

McDonald Farm is owned and operated by Wayne and Maria, along with their kids Emma (8) and Ethan (5). Their goal is to use Holistic Management techniques to create a sustainable, diverse farm that can raise healthy, happy animals. McDonald Farm is a 4th generation family farm started by Wayne’s great-grandfather Alexander in the early 1900’s and continued by his grandfather Norman and his father Jim until the early 1990’s when they switched away from grain towards grass farming. They raise cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and ducks to produce meat that they market directly to families, mainly in Winnipeg. Spring and summer is spent mainly preparing for the birth of baby calves, lambs and piglets, which happens around the middle of June.

They rotationally graze sheep and cattle on perennial pastures without the use of chemicals. They have taken a number of steps to promote a healthy ecosystem on the farm including fencing out riparian areas, building berms to slow water runoff and allow water infiltration, and managing the farm with wildlife in mind.

grass fed beef winnipeg

About the apprenticeship:

The apprentice would mainly be helping out in all areas of sheep production including building and maintaining fences, rotating sheep through various pastures, preparing for and helping with shearing, and preparing for and helping with lambing. During lambing period the main duties would be helping Maria with any sheep that near extra attention in the barn, cleaning pens, bottle feeding lambs, sorting sheep, moving sheep and general checking of ewes and lambs.

As part of the apprenticeship, you will meet with other apprentices across Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta who are part of the Young Agrarians Apprenticeship program. Field days, learning opportunities and potlucks will be planned with the Manitoba group at each hosts farm.  You will also be invited to attend a regenerative or organic food conference during or following the apprenticeship.

About the farm mentors:

Wayne & Maria McDonald will both be mentoring on the farm.
Wayne does most of the day to day work outside including fencing, moving animals, and general maintenance. Maria also helps with fencing and maintenance. She will be the primary person that the apprentice will be working with during lambing (mid June to mid- July).

Wayne and Maria are patient people that enjoy answering questions from people that express a real interest in what they do at McDonald Farm. They have a wealth of knowledge in a variety of areas that they would like to pass on to the next generation.

Wayne has an MSc from the University of Alberta in animal behavior and conservation biology. He enjoys being outside on the farm and caring for animals. For the last 16 years he has also enjoyed learning the direct marketing business.

Maria used to shear sheep and is an expert in duck genetics. She looks after the kids as well as managing all of the farm financials. During lambing time she is the main person in charge of orphan lambs and problem sheep, for which she deserves a medal!

Skills this farm has to teach:

The following skills are being offered by this farm. While you’ll get exposure to many of these areas, it is likely that not all will be covered. Apprentices will work to identify the skills they want to develop through a learning plan with the host farm.  

grass fed cattledirect marketing
pasture raised sheeplivestock nutrition
lambing farm maintenance


Skill required of the apprentice:

*Valid driver’s license
*Willingness to work hard
*Keen interest in pasture raising livestock
*Positive attitude
*All weather clothing, boots, and gloves


Housing, Stipend and Duration:

*There is a 20 foot camper available. It has a fridge/freezer, stove, shower, toilet, and air-conditioning. There is also a decent cell signal in the campers location.

*The apprentice has the option of preparing their own food and eating it in the camper or joining the family for supper.

*Laundry and wifi are in the main house and available for the apprentice to use.

*The apprentice will need their own vehicle for personal use, unless they are asked to use a farm vehicle for a particular job.

* Wayne and Marie can do the food shopping, and the apprentice is welcome to join the family for supper. Breakfast and lunch will be on their own.

*Stipend can be discussed and will depend on subsidies, but approximately will be:
$1000/month with room and board.
During lambing (mid-June- to mid-July)  $2000 to compensate for the heavier workload.

*4 months  – 1st of April through the end of July

* During April and May they could have a couple of days off per week. During lambing they would have to work everyday (June 15th to July 5th). After July 5th they can have a couple of days off per week.

About the Community and Land:

McDonald Farm is near Cartwright Mb in rural southwest Manitoba. There are a number of nature trails within 30 minutes of the farm, including those in Spruce Woods Provincial Park. There is also few different lakes within 20 minutes of the farm that have beaches if that is more your speed. Quite a number of their friends and neighbors are also Young Agrarian mentors so that may be an opportunity for additional learning.

The farm is on Treaty 1 territory and the traditional and ancestral lands of Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation. These communities have a deep relationship with this land based on, among other things, a spiritual connection and subsistence extending back thousands of years.

Young Agrarians recognizes the unresolved Indigenous land title and rights in the diverse territories in what is today called Canada. As we live and work in the context of and in response to a colonial system of laws and policies, it is important to acknowledge the historical and ongoing impact of agriculture and land enclosure on Indigenous lands and food systems. In this context, we acknowledge our collective responsibility to position Indigenous Peoples and their experiences with coloniality, in a narrative of reconciliation that places ecology, land stewardship, and Indigenous land title and rights at the forefront – if we are to sustain the Earth’s ecosystems in today’s rapidly changing climate.

Our deepest hope is that the future of our food systems is diverse, interconnected, and resilient, embraces people of all walks of life and sustains the water, plants, and creatures in ways that benefit and work alongside Indigenous Peoples and narratives and ways of knowing and caring for the land.

This farm, like many others, is surrounded by agricultural cultivated land, uncultivated land, Indigenous people and voices from non-settler walks of life. We encourage everyone to build relationship with the land and community that surrounds the place where you will be learning.

More Details about this Apprenticeship and How to Apply 

Deadline to apply > January 31, 2022

Contact Sara (program coordinator) for questions: manitoba@youngagrarians.org