November 4, 2016


Sam is an apprentice on Chico Basin Ranch. As part of her apprenticeship, she spent eight months working on a cattle station in Australia.

The Ranchlands apprenticeship program is a developmental program that is tailored to each individuals needs and desires. In Sam’s case, going to Australia through Ranchlands’ network to work on a million plus acre ranch where she worked 40,000+ head of cattle in six months was exactly what she needed and wanted. 

“Coming into the beginning of my second year as a Ranch Manager Apprentice at the Ranchlands managed Chico Basin Ranch I met with the Dukes to discuss how I was doing on my journey to becoming a ranch manager and what the future would bring. About the last thing I expected was what they suggested to me in that meeting. Traveling to the other side of the world to work in Australia at a station called Gregory Downs for six months for the muster season. It would be more demanding than anything I had experienced previously, but the sheer size of the station, number of cattle I would be working with and and the experiences I would have would push me to grow more in my cattle work, horsemanship and most of all confidence. After talking more with the Dukes and Cooper about their own experiences working down under I set off.

After a steep learning curve my first few months- but never becoming one of the ‘backpackers who had to be sent home due to injury’- I finally felt like a useful part of my Australian crew. Where back home I tended to shy away from interacting with cattle that got heated, things took a much more interactive role on the outback muster. When gathering over 25,000 animals some of which are wild clean skins you tend to have a few that are wily enough they try to avoid the annual yarding up process. These animals will slink along willing enough with the group until they see their opportunity to make a break for it. This often ends with them trying to outrun individuals on horses or bikes until they turn to fight which is when you tail them down and hobble them to be picked up and brought to the yards. It’s much easier said than done and the seasoned ringers (stockmen) make it look effortless. After abandoning my own horse to help a crew mate tail down a cow we were both dragged through the pricker bushes and rubbervine in our efforts to yank her down. I won’t lie- I was really wishing I had a Chico Rope horse and cursing whoever thought tailing down was a good idea. It wasn’t pretty but in the end we got the cow down and I finally got to use the hobbles Duke had given me the day I left the ranch for Oz. Now that I am back home at Chico there are days when things are challenging, but I have more experiences than before and the confidence to try and fail and try again where before I was afraid.”

For more details on the Ranchlands apprenticeship program, please click here.