Nora’s like that Johnny Cash song. She’s been everywhere, man. From New Zealand to Antarctica to Alaska. But even though she’s traveled the globe, there’s still no place like home.
Home is Wallowa County, Oregon, a place where her roots are deep. It’s a secluded land of breathtaking mountains and valleys, five hours east of Portland. Nora’s family has lived here since the 1870s. The ranch where she lives and works was homesteaded in the mid-1910s.
Nora and her sisters grew up wrangling cattle, hogs, sheep and horses. They learned to cultivate hay and cut timber. Between them they can weld, blacksmith, operate tractors and backhoes, fix fences, properly water fields using flood irrigation and expertly maneuver a chainsaw. That may seem like a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, but Nora says the old timers, like her father, still have them beat. "I feel like my dad could do it all. Together, we can only do most."
LIVING OFF THE LAND
Nora and her sisters also hunt and process their own meat. In fact, most of what they eat is hunted. "The thing about farming is that you gotta sell what you grow," she says. And sell they do! Nora raises hogs and goats that she sells locally, and her sister’s specialty is free-range chickens. Since their operation is small in scale and sustainability-minded, the chickens are mostly sold at local farmers markets or via Portland CSAs and restaurants.
A DOZEN EGGS FOR THAT ARUGULA?
Trading and bartering is common in their community, where neighbors help neighbors and everyone knows one another. Nora trades eggs and meat for delicious fresh veggies. Then they make pickles, kimchi, you name it. Sometimes she’ll trade labor or meat for auto-mechanic work that she can’t do herself, like that involving complex computer systems.
What else does Nora do? Pretty much anything and everything, including pack trips on horseback into the mountains and midwifery once she finishes training. "Anytime you live in a small rural community you do all kinds of jobs," she says. "But I will always primarily see myself as a farmer and a rancher."
Wanna learn more about Nora? Read on!