The Oldsen family moved to Oklahoma in the early 90s and began produce farming. The greenhouses were wood fired and the gardens were worked with tractors and horses. Even the family's Shetland pony, Little Bang, happily contributed his fair share of pulling the harrow. As the children grew up, they began to develop various interests that contributed to the family business Prairie Productions. These activities included soap making, carving whistles and other items, bedding plants, building bird houses and feeders, cheese making, sewing, cattle, horses, chickens, and more. Many of the products were sold at the local farmers market, a produce stand at the farm, as well as retail stores in the area.
An undated photo of the Oldsen's self serve produce stand back in the day. Notice the family dog Jenny sitting on the spring seat. She loved to show off her amazing skills to customers and friends visiting the farm.
Little Bang was very patient with this sharp clawed passenger.
As time moved on and produce prices were low, the siblings moved on to more permanent occupations focusing mainly on deck construction, landscaping, building various portable agricultural structures and of course, the nursery.
Big Creek Nursery and Landscape pictured below was first established in 2008 as a family business in Cushing, OK.
However, starting a business is rarely without its challenges and Big Creek Nursery was no exception! We literally had rough waters ahead. Our first challenge was just getting the nursery up and operating with minimal funds. We were able to find a couple economical greenhouse frames, buy seeds soil and trays. By then we were basically out of money. We were planting seeds in our newly constructed greenhouse around the first of January before we had a heat source for our greenhouses. We needed around 500,000 BTU minimum to heat our growing spaces. Not able to buy propane or any expensive heaters, we turned to our experience with wood heat in our produce greenhouses. We had always wanted to build a stove with a water jacket. With that concept in mind, we welded a smaller propane tank inside of a larger propane tank to essentially create a pressure neutral, forced air, wood fired boiler. Using small pumps and other scrapped items we collected from scrapyards and auctions we were able to put together a system that produced the heat we needed. The system utilized heat exchangers in the greenhouses as well as controls that would shut the boiler down or start it back up as needed. We got the boiler installed just in time for some colder weather coming in though it was just standing out in the open with no building surrounding it. Big Creek's first growing season was then off to a blazing start! Needless to say cutting and hauling all that wood was a major task!
The unfinished boiler and freshly installed greenhouse in the background. Winter of 2007-2008
The completed boiler minus the stack. The burn chamber could hold nearly half of a pickup truckload of wood.
The boiler chugging away on a cold winter morning.
It didn't take long for us to discover that the water quality at our location was an issue. After both the well and the rural water turned out to be contaminated with toxic levels of boron, we then turned to our pond for a water source. This was no small feat. We basically had to build a miniature water treatment plant. We used polymer in a settling tank and a sand filter to remove turbidity, chlorine to further clean it up, and then sulphuric acid to adjust the ph. This was all to no avail as we soon discovered that this system could not remove a pesticide by the name of dicamba that seemed to be running off neighboring fields into our pond. We then turned to the waters of Big Creek which ran through the property. This provided some relief until a drought hit and the creek became very low. Then the real clincher came as we discovered that the creek itself had also been contaminated with pesticides. Our plants began to shrivel up along with our hopes to keep the business alive. After looking at our options we decided we would either have to move the nursery or shutter the business.
After praying and seeking out which way we should go, the opportunity for us to rent and eventually purchase an abandoned nursery in Stillwater opened up. However, this move was no easy feat. The abandoned property was neglected and maintenance deficient. Many of the outbuildings were unusable. There were weeds up to our heads, and dead trees were everywhere. Several layers of ground cloth and gravel intertwined with Johnson grass roots made the clean up and excavation very difficult.
The only decent building on the new property was the office building. However, it was in desperate need of repairs.
None of the remaining structures were usable and would need to be tore down.
During the spring and summer of 2012 with a lot of help from God-sent friends and family we remodeled the office building as well as renovating the rest of the property to suit our needs as a garden center.
Random pictures of the renovation
In the fall of 2012, after an abundanceof hard work, were were able to open our new location! We are thankful to God every day for good customer traffic, clean water and natural gas. Our plants have never been happier!
The pictures above were taken shortly after the remodeling and opening for business
Our goal has always been to provide our customers with a wide selection of plants and trees that are well suited to our local area as well as the knowledge they need to be successful gardeners in our challenging Oklahoma weather. Our nursery carries a wide selection of plants, including annuals and perennials, plus ornamental and fruiting trees and shrubs. In the spring, our greenhouses are filled with colorful hanging baskets; while in the fall, our displays are full of chrysanthemums and pumpkins. Whether you’re looking to fill a pot or a flower bed, our friendly team is happy to answer your questions and assist you however we can.
Our Country Store
Included in our original vision for the nursery was not just a garden center, but also a store stocked with items to support a homesteading life style. We dreamed of adding some of the things that we appreciated back at the farm growing up like homemade soaps, hand carved utensils, homemade jams and jellies, old fashioned toys, and perhaps baked goods. In the summer of 2018, we launched a small version of our vision in a portion of our office that had gone unused for several years. We put into this store the same passion for quality that we have in the nursery. The Lord seemed to bless the effort and in early 2021 we were able to make a purchase agreement for the vacant restaurant next door. After many hours of hard work and remodeling over the summer we opened a larger version of the store including bulk food in October of 2021. A year later in September of 2022 we completed renovations to the needy restaurant kitchen in efforts to accommodate a bakery. Whether you are needing supplies for homemaking, advice in your homesteading adventures, or you are simply hungry for a snack or some fresh baked goods, Big Creek Country Store is the place to be!
Shortly after opening the nursery in Cushing, another side business was started as a default business in case the nursery was not working. This venture included portable chicken coops and greenhouses as well as dog houses and a few loafing sheds. The chicken coops and greenhouses did very well and the business grew rapidly. The interest and demand was high for Big Creeks new endeavor and eventually it was decided to maintain both the nursery and the structures divisions of Big Creek Nursery & Landscape LLC. All our buildings are built by hand with carefully chosen local craftsmen. They are built not just by a good team of builders but designed by experienced farmers and gardeners. Along with your building purchase you are free to call us with any issues you encounter in raising poultry or growing plants and we will try to help you the best we can!