Student Labor Positions
Serving on the Boardinghouse Crew (BH) is the only required labor. Every Deep Springs student must spend two terms on BH, washing dishes, mopping floors, storing and culling leftovers, sorting slop and compost, keeping the dining area neat and clean, and taking out the trash after every meal. The crew regularly consists of four people, who typically split up for breakfast and lunch, and collaborate on the larger dinner cleanup.
The Butcher is in charge of all slaughters at Deep Springs. The college slaughters about two cows each term. It is the butcher's job to cut the sides of beef into appropriate portions for cooking and ensure that the college has enough meat. The butcher also sometimes slaughters sheep, chickens, and pigs. Butchers also undertake projects like smoked ribs, sausages, ham and bacon in the smokehouse.
Dairy is a two-term position, with two students responsible for the dairy operation. The dairy boys get up at four for work, so the community can have fresh milk for breakfast at seven thirty. They tramp down to the dairy again at about four in the afternoon, so the community can have fresh milk for dinner at six. There's often more milk than we know what to do with, so dairy boys spend their down time making fresh ice cream and butter for the community. The dairy boys are also responsible for the well-being of the cows. Dairy boys are responsible for keeping the troughs full of water and the feeders full of alfalfa as well as keeping the stalls clean and our dairy cows (Ruth, Lilith and Olivia) healthy.
The Farm Team works with the Farm Manager to irrigate and harvest the nine large alfalfa fields that surround the college. This means moving the field-long wheel lines, clearing the irrigation ditches, and pressurizing the lines daily, as well as baling the crop so it can be fed to the cattle over the course of the winter. A great deal of Farm Team's time is spent servicing all the various mishaps caused by the combination of faulty equipment and high water pressure. Extra time is usually spent helping out in the garden.
The Farmer's Assistant works with our Farm Manager during the winter months (Terms 3-4). He or she spends time setting gopher traps, dragging fields and spreading manure in order to get ready for the upcoming growing season. He's also responsible for keeping all the big, expensive farm equipment in good condition.
The Feed Man is responsible for feeding and looking after all of our ranch animals. In practice, the schedule of feeding, strip grazing, and maintenance is a complicated job that demands a great deal of responsibility. The horses, pigs, sheep, chicken, geese, heifers, calves, bulls, and slaughter cows all get different types and quantities of food and water. This job becomes a student's first priority very quickly. The Feed Man is responsible for the life and sustenance of almost every animal around the ranch. Ironically, he is also required to participate in all slaughters.
Gardener is a one- or two-term position. During growing season (Terms 5-2) there are usually two Deep Springers responsible for the two-acre organic garden and worm farm. The senior student gardener will serve for two terms (either Terms 5 and 6, or 1 and 2) in order to ensure continuity of knowledge and experience in the garden. The gardeners are responsible for planting, weeding, and harvesting crops, making compost and developing ways to replenish our soil and maintain sustainable cultivation.
The General Labor Crew (GL) is the grunt force of the college. Wherever there is a special project, GL will be there. Led by the student Labor Commissioner, the LC, they do it all. Sometimes the entire crew will work together to complete a large project like cleaning out the green storage shed, or digging and laying water pipe. Often, though, they will split up for smaller projects, like chopping firewood, repairing old fences, or cleaning out our small wooden hot tub.
The Grounds/Orderly (GO) is responsible for keeping all of our public areas clean. They are responsible for the Main Building, the classroom, the museum's seminar classroom, common spaces in the dorm, and the guest rooms. In addition to scrubbing toilets and vacuuming, the grounds/orderly is also in charge of watering and mowing college lawns, keeping the flower beds and trees alive, and undertaking various landscaping projects around the campus.
The student Librarian's work is truly never-ending. There are always culling projects and card catalogue rearrangements that need to take place. It is the librarian's task to bring more order and accuracy to the current descriptions of the Deep Springs collection. The librarian also determines what periodicals the college will order, what new books should be part of the collection, and which should be replaced.
The Mechanic's Assistant helps the staff mechanic in maintaining and fixing college and ranch vehicles and other components of the physical plant.
The Office Cowboy works as part of our four-person office staff. The staff does all the clerical work that goes into running a college. Because Deep Springs is so small, our office handles everything from annual giving to day-to-day finances of the college, so the office position is intimately involved in every aspect of college administration. He sorts, posts, and distributes mail for the entire campus and answers the phones in the office. He is responsible for supply orders, testing water, and transcribing oral histories. The office cowboy will give tours and gas to random passers through.
The two Student Cooks, junior and senior, train under the supervision of our staff cook. Together the three cook all of the meals for the community during the five days a week, rotating so that the two student cooks each cook dinner with the staff cook once or twice a week. Student cooks also do two-person lunches and solo breakfasts. In addition to planning and cooking these weekday meals (all of which are vegetarian-friendly), they keep an inventory of food available to cook, order food from town, and delegate weekend cooking to other students.
The two or three Student Cowboys, are chosen by the Ranch Manager in late fall of their second year. They must commit to work through the rest of the year and the summer after they graduate. The Mountain Cowboy must also return the following summer as senior cowboy to stay with the herd and to train the junior cowboy. The cowboys' work begins towards the end of the year, when the first heifers calve. The cowboys have the evening calving watch, from about 4:30 in the afternoon until 6:00 in the morning. They check for signs of labor every three hours. When a cow is in labor, one of the cowboys will stick around to make sure the birthing goes smoothly. In April the cowboys supervise as the entire Student Body pitches in for a week or so to gather, brand, inoculate and castrate all the calves. The cowboys drive the herd up into the mountains and Fish Lake Valley in the summer. On the mountain, the cowboys' main job is ecological: to protect sensitive areas from overgrazing. This means riding every day to move cattle into the hills, away from riparian zones. At the end of the summer, the cowboys' main job is getting everything ready for pregnancy testing, their last job before they leave the valley.