Apprenticeship

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Interested in Spending a Season at Weathertop Farm? 

Overview

Weathertop Farm is a small 67-acre farm located in scenic Floyd County, VA, just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, with all it's recreational opportunities, and only 14 miles from the town of Floyd, renowned for it's thriving artist, music, and local food scene. 
 
Weathertop Farm accepts 1 or 2 apprentices each year for the duration of our May - November season.  We're looking for folks interested and passionate about preserving sustainable agriculture systems within our local food-shed communities.  Apprentices must be ready to work hard doing manual labor in all kinds of weather.  Basic housing is provided along with whatever food is grown here on the farm. Group farm lunches will also be regular fare.  A monthly stipend of $500 per person will be provided.  We expect apprentices to put in approximately 40 hours a week on average, although this will vary with each week. You can expect to work alongside the farmer for some tasks, and independently for others.   
 
What we expect of you 

No previous farming experience necessary, but these are qualities we're looking for: 
-a positive attitude  
-willingness to try new things 
-enthusiasm 
-flexibility 
-commitment 
-personal initiative 
-cooperation for working with others 
-ability to follow directions  
-ability to do manual labor   
-good people-person comfortable in a sales setting interacting with customers. 
-ability to work with children 
 
We have 5 kids ranging in ages from 14 and up, and we need you to be able to work well alongside them when they're around.  We also have extended family and friends living nearby and frequently visiting and helping out.  We care a great deal about our farm community and try to keep our environment clean and healthy on all levels.  
So we ask all apprentices to commit to no smoking, no drugs and no drama. 
We give preference to someone who can commit to the whole time from May-Nov. 
 
Work will include but is not limited to

Caring for laying hens:  feeding & watering, collecting and carrying eggs (multiple times a day).  Moving fences and hen houses (twice a week)  
Cleaning eggs sorting, washing, packing (daily) and delivery (2-3 x/week) 
Caring for broiler chickens:  moving and servicing pens (twice a day)  
Brooder care:  caring for chicks in the brooder(twice a day), transferring out to the field (once a month).  
Pigs: feed and water (twice a day), fence maintenance, moving pasture, cleaning out portable house (occasionally)  
Rabbits:  scything grass, feed and water twice a day.          

Sheep: daily fence moving. 

Processing:  we butcher chickens on a 5-week rotating schedule, usually on Tues, Thurs & Sat every 5 weeks from May-Oct.  This is a long day of set-up, cleaning, butchering, lots more cleaning, and in the afternoon assisting with packaging, sales & customers on top of everyday chores.  Thanksgiving time also means several more days of processing turkeys, both in October and November. 
These days are an essential part of our farming operation and are a mandatory part of the apprenticeship - attendance is required and non-negotiable  
 
Farmers Market:  Saturdays start around 5am and involve packing coolers and vehicle, driving to Blacksburg (50 minute drive) setting up, interacting with customers & sales from 8-2, break down, drive home, unpack.  
 
Other work:  composting, mowing, fence set-up and moving, plenty of garden work, cleaning out bedding from brooder& hoop-houses, driving to mill for feed pick-up and unloading, 

Hauling 50-lb feed bags in and out of truck/barn and distributing to animals as needed.  
We do a lot of small construction projects around the farm, so if you have some carpentry skills that's a plus but not required. 
 
What you can expect from us 
This apprenticeship can be a great learning opportunity for someone interested in this kind of pasture-based farming.  It does require initiative and dedication on your part, but there is ample opportunity to learn about raising these animals first-hand, how a pasture-based system operates, and what the daily work is like on a farm. You can expect a lot of time from us for conversations about farming and related issues, and ample opportunity to ask whatever questions you have.  Through this experience you can gain an understanding of the daily ups and downs and ins and outs of a farming season, and because of the diverse range of tasks we require help with (raising animals, butchering, sales & marketing) we hope you would gain an understanding of how the diverse multi-species grazing operations of our farm are integrated into one business and function as a whole. 
 
Housing: very old rustic farmhouse, furnished with basic amenities. House has some electricity and basic bath & kitchen facilities, including composting toilet and outdoor shower.  You may use the laundry & internet at the main farmhouse. 

Meals: We welcome apprentices to join us for lunch daily, and sometimes for dinner, too, other meals you will be responsible for yourself.  You will have access to food that is grown on the farm. 
Lunch will regularly include informal meetings to discuss upcoming tasks, projects and plans, as well as give and take of feedback between us on what we've all been doing. 

Stipend:  $500/month. 

Day(s) off: Sundays off, and some afternoons, too. 
 
Opportunities for education 
-Access to our farm books along with some recommended reading assignments. 
-Opportunity to learn poultry processing as well as marketing and sales 
-Chance to use space in our garden to grow something for yourself and/or for sale. 
-Chances to visit/work with other farms and alternative food systems in Floyd and see what they are doing  
 
Opportunities for recreation & entertainment 
-Meet other apprentices in Floyd to socialize & network with them 
-The nearby town of Floyd has a great food, music & arts scene  
-Proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway offers lots of chances for hiking & camping 
-Nearby Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech, is a great college town with lots going on 
 
Application process  
-Please read through all relevant information here as well as on our website so you are familiar with our farm. 

-In addition to the written application, in almost all cases we will require an in-person visit, (which could be an overnight or weekend stay) so we can get a feel for one another.                                     

-Please contact us at info@weathertopfarm.com with any questions about the internship. We look forward to hearing from you. 


Download Apprentice Application in pdf

Download Apprentice Application as word document