Melanie and Kevin Cunningham own and operate Shakefork Community Farm in Humboldt County, California, where they raise five acres of vegetables and a diversity of livestock, including broilers, egg-layers, pigs, and sheep.. And they do it with oxen – as well as with four-wheeled and two-wheeled tractors. Since their start in 2008, the farm has evolved from an emphasis on small grains to a focus on vegetables and livestock, which they sell through their 120-member CSA and three farmers markets.
We take a deep dive into how they’ve integrated the oxen into their operation, including the why behind it and how they use draft power in ways and places where they feel tractor power and human power aren’t the best choices.
Kevin and Melanie dig into how they manage the complexity of their operation, including their introduction to Holistic Management and how they’ve used that to support their decision-making and to get on the same page from a relationship standpoint, as well as to help them do the caliber of work that they want to be doing. We discuss how they schedule multiple labor-intensive enterprises, and how they’ve divided responsibilities and how they coordinate between the different parts of the operation.
Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/cunningham.