Zone 6 or Zone 1?? Late Season Pheasant, AHHH!

The question came up this weekend. A friend of mine swears she’s heard from old-timers, friends, her mom who worked at our local nursery for a number of years, that we are Zone 1 (see the smack-dab middle of Oregon). If that is true, it’s a big bummer. But isn’t like, ALASKA Zone 1?? This isn’t Alaska… Both my friend and I have heard the local adage “You don’t plant your seeds in the ground until all the snow is gone from Black Butte”. As in Black Butte Porter a la Deschutes Brewery. Well, that is fine and dandy because I don’t plan on doing that until… May?!? Oh how I miss coastal weather sometimes. But the problem is when I looked up the USDA zones, we are in Zone 6. I am aware that if I want to start anything I need a greenhouse. Costco carport frame, CHECK! I’m also a firm believer that if you mulch it, it will grow. And, as my new best friend the Winter Harvest Handbook tells me, cold frames and row covers in greenhouses can allow me to grow year-round in harsher climates, like Maine.

< ----------------LOOK! Not pink, it's light blue!!
But the question arose as I was trying, ever so hard, to finish the joint seed order I’m doing with my friend. I know, March and I don’t have the seeds ordered, what is wrong with me? Well for one, when you have a big space, and you are going to try to preserve some of your harvest, you want to plant EVERYTHING! It is very hard to resist ordering fruit trees. And more berries. Yes, I am going to try berries out here. But not blackberries, marionberries, huckleberries, or elderberries, those are going to be gathered. So, when selecting seeds, one of my key phrases has been “does well in cool climates”. That’s all well and good as long as I’m not ordering vegetables that are for Zone 6, not Zone 1. I am trying to not be intimidated by the fact that we had frost last year in July! And I’ve heard stories of it SNOWING on Fourth of July. What madness have I gotten myself into? I am used to growing peas and greens year round. Granted, I am excited about not having to coddle my tomatoes, and peppers are a reality not just a dream anymore! And I’m going to try eggplant. But still… should I plant asparagus? What about artichokes? Rhubarb? My mantra is becoming “if it’s mulched, it will be fine”. Well, only time will tell right?

On Sunday I went pheasant hunting with my new boss to see how our two brittanys would get along. Tango is 8 months and an alpha female. Gunny is 4 years old and way more mellow. Since it was our first time out together it was more about training the dogs than actually getting birds, however we ended up with a total of 7. The country was beautiful, up by Bear Creek. That’s all I know, since I am still getting to know the area. But just beautiful high desert juniper and sagebrush hills punctuated by lava rimrock. And it was a warm day too! Pheasant are my all-time favorite game bird to hunt. They are the perfect species for beginner hunters. Unlike waterfowl hunting that requires a huge amount of gear, pheasant hunting just requires a gun, a good pair of boots, and a dog. No special calls, no back-breaking load of decoys, it is the quintessential connection between man and dog. When I go out with Gunny, WE are hunting, not just me. He finds the birds for me, and I bring them down. It’s a partnership in every sense of the word, and the fact that he knows it makes it just that much more special. I love my dog, as my companion, my buddy, but in normal situations we are not equals. When we hunt together, we are.

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