This is a story about the birth of Oyster Bay Mushrooms.
In 1998, after 20 years of service in the Navy as a nuclear machinist mate, I moved my family to Washington. This was a big transition for a family of five. We purchased 5 acres of land that needed a lot of work. With the help of God, we turned a neglected 1970s house into a remodeled and updated farmhouse. We cleared the land and groomed it for farm animals and gardens. I believe we have tried our hand at just about every farm animal out there. We started with dexter cows that were dual-purpose. Soon the demand for fresh milk was too high for us to fulfill.
We then added a sweet jersey cow that provided a peak of 6 gallons a day. We enjoyed having horses that provided hours of trail rides. Chickens, pigs, pheasants, honey bees, ducks, goats, and turkeys were all animals we tried our hands at raising. We learned some people in the northwest tap these huge silver maple trees. We had several on our property that were old enough not to be harmed by trying it. We bought the supplies and collected sap. After simmering it to evaporate the moisture we canned it. In our opinion, it tasted like wood and was something we abandoned. Our kitchen was a revolving door for cheese, fermenting, canning, and drying, we were willing to try many things. I believe that we learned from the school of hard knocks.
During this time we were blessed to homeschool our three children. Their involvement in our farm was non-negotiable. They learned right along with us. Not being from families that farmed we learned the hard way. Some lessons were difficult and disappointing. Others were fruitful and successful. Our children speak fondly of their experiences but none of them have chosen to farm.
Fast forward to 2017. Our Children are grown. We still love the idea of farming, just find it harder to keep up with. Age-related issues are showing up as we creep up to the golden years. Up pops a youtube video of someone cultivating mushrooms on some logs in their yard. Our curiosity was heightened. We ate up any article, youtube, book, or random information. I caught the bug and read any information I could get my hands on. Rhonda continued to farm and pushed for retirement. In 2019, we wrote up a draft business plan and met with Andrew of Mossy Creek Mushrooms. He provided some pointers and encouraged us to get busy.
We sold most of the farm animals in 2020. Now a few chickens, honey bees, and a horse remain. It was time to break ground and begin setting up for mushrooms while working full-time for TrueBlue. Horse stalls were from ⅓ of the barn. These stalls which were built by us and our children were so difficult to remove. Cement was poured. We began the work with a few contractors who were not reliable. God brought us back into contact with a family we had attended church with several years prior, whose son is now an independent contractor. This young man made a world of difference and propelled us forward. Stephen Bublat blessed us with a good work ethic, and congenial personality, and is a Christian to boot. I was able to share with Stephen a vision and together we created it. The barn and area around the barn seemed to be in transition for a long time. Product was continually coming in. Pallets were stored here and there.
With the dawn of 2021, the clean room was complete. And as the grow rooms got closer to being finished, I began growing mycelium…