Wanted: farm handGood help is hard to come by in oil and gas country, area farmers say. Farmers and ranchers begin looking for farm/ranch laborers in the spring so they have a crew in place before they turn out there livestock and begin planting.
Good help is hard to come by in oil and gas country, area farmers say.
Farmers and ranchers begin looking for farm/ranch laborers in the spring so they have a crew in place before they turn out there livestock and begin planting.
Hiring someone to help run a farm or ranch is nothing new, said Tony Stroh, a Killdeer rancher. “It dates back all the way to pioneer days.”
The big reason for hiring help is farmers and ranchers operate more acres than they have in the past, said Jerry Wagner, who has a farm near South Heart.
“Some other reasons for hiring help are a lot of people are expanding their operations, or their kids go off to college or move away, there are also a lot of single and aging farmers who need an extra hand,” Wagner said.
As more job opportunities come along, less and less people choose to work on a farm, Stroh said.
“In the last few years with the oil and gas boom people have chosen to work for energy companies over farmers and ranchers because they can make more money,” he said.
“You can’t blame them for accepting a better offer,” Stroh said. “It be nice if we (farmers and ranchers) could pay them as much but we don’t make enough money to do that.”
The average salary, according to area advertisements for full-time employees who sign on for a year or more is $2,000 a month, but it depends on experience.
Heidi Hintz, part-time dairy farm hand in Dickinson, said she thinks the pay is fair.
“It’s like with any job — some pay less and some pay more. What mattered more to me was that I got to do something I like and get paid for it,” Hintz said.
Though she only works part-time, Hintz says her day consists of milking cows, feeding calves and a few smaller chores that go along with it.
Stroh and Wagner say in their operations, an average day for a ranch hand consist of helping out with daily activities such as feeding and working with livestock (mainly cattle), fixing fence, operating and repairing machinery, and other farm related or seasonal activities.
“As far as living situation, some live on the ranch or farm they are working at and others commute,” Wagner said. “It works well both ways.”
Allowing a hired hand to live at the farm or ranch they are working at or allowing them to keep their horse on the place or run their own livestock alongside their employers can make the job more enticing, Wagner said.
“A lot of hired hands do the work they do because they love it and aren’t able or choose not to do it on their own so allowing some flexibility and freedom can go a long way,” Wagner said.