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Sufficient Self Forum
Living a more Self Sufficient & Sustainable Lifestyle
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Ok so I currently live in Central CA where I can grow anything and everything. Problem is if there is a SHTF scenario there are 37 million people here. We are looking into the idea of moving but my big concern is CAN I GROW ENOUGH STUFF if we move to central OR? Hubby suggested ID but that is too extreme weather for me. (and the garden and fruit trees and chickens....)
Central Oregon? As in east of the Cascades? I live to the west, so can't say really. I know that there are some nice places over there, but compared to this side it is very hot and dry, I believe. And colder in the winter. I can't handle a hot climate, so would have difficulty, I think, if it were me. But if you are living in central CA at the moment you are no doubt used to the temperature. I lived closer to the coast, or right on it, in the fog bank, when I lived in CA.
It very much makes a difference on where you're looking at. I'm from the Hermiston area. It's quite dry and water rights are hard to get for property. To many in the family have had issues getting places with water rights so they could irrigate. Average rainfall is like 10 inches a year with most falling as ice in winter. Summer is dry and hot.
Ok lets say WEST of the Cascades...Ive been checking out the photos on MLS today and do not even like the way it looks in that desert kinda area. I think cooler and greener than where I am currently would be nice....Ive checked Grants Pass, Klamath...trying to do my homework HERE before we make some trips to see properties and check out job situations.
West of the Cascades: in the Willamette, Umpqua, and Rogue valleys (and all the little ones around) the growing is good - blueberries, hazelnuts, and walnuts seem to be the big things, commercially, around here (I am near the Umpqua), with fruit being the big crop around Medford, and grass seed north of Eugene. Depending on whether you are in the valley or higher up you will be anywhere from zone 8 to zone 3, so keep that in mind. We get, on average, about 33" of precipitation, mostly between October and May, and mostly as rain in the lower elevations (though we do get occasional snow), but could get rain in any month - more in the north, less in the south (Portland is wetter than Ashland). What surprised me when we moved here 10 years ago was that (just like California) the hills go brown in the summer; I really wasn't expecting that, having always thought of Oregon as a very wet place. So, even in the west, you will need to consider how best to keep your plantings watered.
ETA: Depending on what your profession is work may not be easy to find. I'm not really up on all of that, as we moved here after retiring, but know that many people are having a hard time finding jobs.
Last edited by ORChick (04/15/2012 10:24 am)
I'm in Grants Pass and can grow just about whatever I want. I grew up around Modesto, so I see where you're coming from. The season here is shorter--to be safe from last frost the rule of thumb is plant on Memorial Day weekend. I've pushed that up to early May once or twice, depending on the weather. Frost can come on Halloween. It's pretty wet here in the winter and spring, summers are dry and low 100s, winter gets maybe down to the mid teens.
Central Oregon really depends on where you go. I have family in Redmond, and if they drive 30 min to Bend the weather is more severe, and 30 min to Prineville the weather is milder. I know folks garden there, but I think they need to do more cold frames and greenhouses for things like tomatos. I spent 10 years in Klamath Falls, which is also high desert, and could never consistently grow tomatos without interventions. That's why my family lives in Central Oregon and I live in SW Oregon. It's all about the tomatos, baby.
Land is not so bad here, but jobs can be a problem. Feel free to pm me if you have any other questions.
I'd be terrified to live in the central valley if the shtf, so I think you're thinking the right way.
Our farm is near Harrisburg, central Willamette Valley. The land around here is flat, and it tends to be wet all winter. Our lawn at the farm has an inch of water on it most of the winter. Summers are brief and dry -most years-; last year summer didn't arrive until mid-July. Soil is clay loam. Crops that grow well in our area: grass for seed, plums, pears, apples, blueberries, filberts, green beans, green peas, strawberries, cabbage, onions, garlic, various greens and lettuces. Oops, forgot various types of wine grapes. Also flax for seed and fiber. Crops that grow well most years if the varieties are short season types: corn, squash, tomatoes. White winter wheat, oats, black beans, garbanzo beans and lentils are increasingly grown to replace grass seed acres (grass seed is a petroleum intensive crop), and some folks are trying hard red wheat with some success.
Be advised that some years are green tomato years or "cabbage years" when it seems that nothing survives except the cold weather crops. Winters are mild for the most part and most years cold season crops like cabbages, broccoli, brussels sprouts and lettuces will grow or at least keep throughout the winter. I am still eating off of the 12 brussels sprouts and 4 broccolis I planted in fall--I am now eating the buds. Most years you don't need a hoop house to grow these vegetables, either. A hoop house will increase your growing power in all seasons, however.
We have a well at our place, but we are not really farmers, just gardeners, so it is not used for extensive irrigation. Real farms rely on lots of rain that irrigates the crops until the end of June, then crops like wheat and corn are dry cropped. Real farmers' milage may vary on this issue.
Up until the 1970's the Willamette Valley was a farmer's dream. The Valley had hundreds of canneries working full steam all summer into the fall processing vegetables, school kids never had to wonder how to make a few bucks over the summer (I picked strawberries in spring, cane berries through July, then green beans until school started again. Made plenty of money to buy school clothes.) The Valley produced something like 90% of the food eaten by citizens of the valley. The grass seed industry changed all of that. Now most food is shipped in from elsewhere, the canneries closed up in the 1990s, and god knows what those kids are up to all summer.
You can homestead pretty successfully here, but you have to like rain and clouds. It's warm and dry down south in Medford, Ashland, Grants Pass, but water is an issue. It's even wetter between Salem and Portland, and heavily populated (I mean, for Oregon). East of the Cascades is cold in the winter and dry year round. The coast is fantastic, but wetter with a shorter growing season. People do OK there, though.
Jobs are definitely a problem unless you are bringing a valuable skill with you. Unemployment is very high in our county, especially the small towns.
Last edited by Theo (04/15/2012 9:50 pm)
Thank you for this wonderful information. You know you can read all you want on the chamber of commerce sites but thats not the kind of information I want. I am just so so sad because I work very hard here on our place in the hills. I have a variety of 10 fruit trees, a large garden, chickens, horses... and small kids. It would be AT LEAST 3 years before we can move as we share custody of my hubbys boy who is 15. I feel like I will work hard another 3 years on this place that I really love but get up and leave it to start over. Also feel terrible thinking of a SHTF scenario and here we are a half hour from a metro area of 1 million people. We would be toast. So all my hard work is worth nothing. Im just so torn. Leaving family here, moving school aged kids, Im not a youngster either...ok I am rambling now. On line therapy session.