Every housing choice on campus has rules: Students can’t paint their rooms without permission, nobody can own a waterbed, students under 21 cannot have alcohol (expect in Poly Canyon Village under specific circumstances) and no pets allowed.

The last isn’t true for agricultural students living in unique on-campus housing locations.

“When I was living at Herdsman, I had a bottle calf living in the house,” animal science senior Rebecca Monell said. “Every day is different at work.”

Where’s the beef?

Monell lives in a single bedroom house with a flower garden in the front, next door to the Beef Cattle Evaluation Center. It is at one of three different student housing locations operated by the beef department. There are two houses on that property — the other house is occupied by two male students. A cow skull and cowboy boots rest on their porch.

For each livestock unit on campus, there is housing available for a limited amount of students to get hands-on experience working with animals.

The students that live in the agricultural housing on campus work at the dairy, sheep, cattle, equine, swine or poultry units. Students who are approved to occupy one of the agricultural residences pay an average of $1,000 a quarter and typically have to work 20 to 30 unpaid hours a month. They get paid for any hours that exceed their mandatory unpaid hours though. Housing is also separated by gender.

“Being really close to work is the best part about living here because we’re on call 24-hours,” Monell said. “I feel really fortunate to be this close to campus and also have a job, it’s really cool. The worst part is being down wind from the poultry unit, it smells kind of bad.”

Another beef department housing area is at Herdsman Hall, located next to the baseball field.

Animal science junior Erin Nikiel lives in the old house with two other females. They do general maintenance, cleaning and feeding.

“It’s nice to be living with people with similar interests and being so close to work,” Nikiel said. “I like living here, we have a nice yard and maintenance helps keep up with the place. If we have issues, we have people we can talk to.”

Escuela Ranch, located near Cuesta College is the final Cal Poly beef department living area — four male Cal Poly students live at the ranch there.

Feeling sheepish 

There are two five-bedroom houses 50 feet away from each other on the sheep unit property which borders the California Men’s Colony and Highway 1.

Two females live in one of the houses and oversee the sheep, and eight dairy science workers fill the remaining spaces in the two houses.

The property was a student dairy project area where students could work with their own cows, since there isn’t much housing at the main dairy and the dairy department requires a lot of labor for production. The sheep department gets priority for the housing on the property while the dairy department fills the remaining spaces.

Don’t be chicken

There are two houses behind the poultry unit located on Stenner Creek Road off of Highway 1.

Two males live in the small house with icicle Christmas lights that they said they plan on keeping up year round. The living space is very small. Posters of country pop singer Taylor Swift are posted on the wall next to the dining table; one of the tenants is obsessed with her.

There are four girls that live in a newer house roughly 50 feet away from them. Even though they live near the poultry unit, none of the students who live there specialize in poultry.

“It’s just about wherever you can get a place to live,” agriculture junior Sam Terpestra said. “It’s definitely not the best living conditions. The best part is that you’re still on campus. You’re close to things but you still have some benefits of kind of being off campus.”

Bringing home the bacon

The swine unit is located on a hill at the end of Sports Complex Road. Two male students share a one bedroom apartment attached to a classroom.

Animal science junior and student manager of the swine unit Aaron Prinz said he likes how affordable the housing is. Plus, he doesn’t have to drive to his job.

“It’s an upgrade from the poultry unit where I used to live,” he said. “It’s on campus, but it’s really quiet, so it’s almost like I’m not on campus. It’s nice to have your own kitchen and refrigerator, and it’s not like being in the dorms where you have to go to the cafeteria.”

Prinz lived on a hog farm growing up and also raised pigs in 4-H. He moved into the swine unit in Summer 2011 and said he plans to stay there until he graduates.

“The only thing that kind of sucks is that I have to share a room,” he said.

Admiring the architecture

Far away from any of the units is the “architecture graveyard.” The old architecture project area is located north of the Poly Canyon dorms, and has one two bedroom building that only houses agribusiness junior Fletcher Gales. Because one of the rooms is currently vacant, Housing is looking for another male employee that can pay and work in exchange for housing. They hope to fill the room sometime before the end of the school year, but Gales said he doesn’t mind living alone.

“I like living out there by myself,” Gales said. “It’s kind of nice to be on campus but to be tucked away from all the stuff. It’s really nice back there.”

Gales said he’s seen deer, turkeys and even mountain lions back there, and he can hear coyotes every night. Despite being a little out of the way, Gale said he plans to live there until he graduates.

“It’s kind of out there in the boonies but it’s nice,” he said. “I’ll be living there as long as I have my position at the horse unit — until they kick me out or I graduate I guess.”