An Oregon Food Chain

Oregon is an eat or be eaten state. A live off the land state. A nature is a cycle of vicious and unapologetic destruction state. Based on my observations, I’ve created an Oregon specific food chain to help visitors.

Berries, especially Huckleberries<<

Oregon is lush! There are berries everywhere! There are so many berries that they rot on the tree, without people or other woodland creatures bothering to harvest them. Paul and I have made several pies, crisps, and buckles out of Oregon berries.

I had never seen a huckleberry before, so I wasn’t 100% on what I should harvest. A little Internet sleuthing explained that huckleberries look like blueberries, but they grow on higher shrubs, but the shrubs could be lower too, or they might be vines. Huckleberries are sometimes more black, sometimes purple. They can also be red, though. Happy picking!

<<<Mushrooms<<<

I joined the local bike shop’s twice weekly, group ride. They ride a 10 mile loop on Tuesdays. On Fridays they ride the same loop only backwards. It’s pretty low pressure. At mile 5 we stop and eat cookies. At one such cookie break, a fellow rider told me that I could make a six-figure living harvesting mushrooms.

It’s very humid here all the time, so everything is growing some kind of fungi, even the berries. I was advised to sign up for a local community college class on mushroom identification. You can pick a full bucket in every class, so you'll probably make your tuition back in that one session. Mushrooms are basically traded as currency in Oregon. I’ve seen the local farmer’s market (open daily on the boardwalk). Quit your day job and become an Oregon mushroomer, dreamers. 

 This tree was taken down by mushrooms, spouse and dog for scale

This tree was taken down by mushrooms, spouse and dog for scale

<<<Organic Heirloom Anything<<<

Speaking of farmer’s markets, Oregon is bustling with them. Someone told me that the Oregon coast is a food desert, but the town I live in (population=8,000+/- depending on day of the week) has 2 grocery stores and 2 farmer’s markets. There’s a proliferation of Organic Farms and back yard vegetable gardens. If you’re not at least watering your own basil plant, your soul is lost.

We had the unique pleasure of visiting an Organic Farm (the farmer’s are friends of a family member). They offered us a rabbit hole look into a different version of life where young bohemian lovers pick a place, stay put for 30+ years and build a beautiful, organically certified, life together (sigh, the anchored life).

 They also offered us colorful heirloom tomatoes and some insider secrets for hiking to an ancient apple orchard. The orchard (up the second elk path on the right!) was hard to find but absolutely worth the bushwhacking. The surviving trees had grown so tall that it was impossible to pick any apples. Never mind though, the ER doc on call has loads of organic apples and he’s left boxes of them in the break room for the taking.

<<Deer<<<

Don’t try to impress me with your home state’s wild nature by telling me about the number of deer in your back yard. There isn’t a state in this union that doesn’t have deer. Like squirrels, deer seem to have proceeded with daily life unperturbed by urban sprawl and globalization. Deer don’t care about three day weekends, same day shipping, or distracted driver laws. Deer season opens on October 1st.

<<<Other docile mammals<<<

The seals like to swim up the river. They’ll hang out near the pier and catch guts washing off of the fish cleaning station. Fishermen bring in huge salmon, crabs and tuna. I didn’t include salmon etc. on this food chain list because I have nothing further to say about them except that they are delicious.

Oregon also has farm mammals. The organic farm we visited also raised cattle, for instance. After flying into Portland, I took a bus ride from the airport to Eugene. I was the only person on the bus, so I got to chatting with the bus driver, Ken. He wore a cowboy hat, and earned it by being an actual sheep ranching cowboy. He had 160 grass-fed sheep that eventually make their way up to Portland and onto fancy dinner plates.

<<Cougars<<

Ken had a major problem with cougars. Ken watched a cougar throw one of his sheep over a six-foot fence. Occasionally Team Perpetual Motion will be off on some hiking adventure and we’ll pass by a sign that warns us of a recent cougar sitting in the area. It’s always open season on cougars.

 Neighborhood Lawn Art

Neighborhood Lawn Art

<<Llamas<<

Lucky for Ken, he has a watch llama! Beyond wearing red pajamas, missing mamas, and holiday dramas, llamas will also protect your livestock from predators by stomping them to death. They’re like watch dogs, only with hooves.

In Idaho, we lived near several farms. The horses would run away from Odin and I when we passed, but the llamas would run up to the fence, to greet us, or so I thought. Now I know those llamas were out for blood.

Ken said that his llama is lazy, and thus not that good as a watch llama. She did spit at Ken when he tried to give her the annual deworming medicine. If humans were on this food chain, I believe they’d rank below llamas.

<<EAGLES<<

Eagles are the other major predator that harass, snatch, and eat Ken’s sheep. Even the most aggressive llamas cannot fend off an eagle. Hoof tossed eagles can simply fly away and out of spitting range. What’s more is that Ken is completely powerless to do anything. He’s allowed to shoot troublesome cougars, but since the eagle is a national symbol, they’re protected and untouchable.

Last week we saw a bald eagle picking through the tidal debris along the beach. They aren’t small birds. Odin thought it was another dog and wanted to play.Normally I don’t worry about Odin being snatched up by some hazardous animal, but in Oregon, I’m keeping him close by and on the leash.

It’s Oregon. Eat local, or be eaten locally, people.