Christmas Tree Farms
It may be pure folly on my part, but I decreed that our family’s holiday celebrations this year would be “old-fashioned”, which means we chop down an honest-to-goodness evergreen tree that does not have snap-on branches and blinking mini-lights already attached.
My two youngest children bought in to the real-tree concept from ‘go’: the lure of a horse-drawn sleigh or wagon ride through a tree farm was too much to resist. My husband heard the magical tool words, like “saw” and “axe”, and he too was on-board. Plus, he and I are suckers for a little hot apple cider. My tween – predictably – thought the entire idea was totally lame as visions of a pink monochrome tree danced right out of her head.
I became a tree maven, weighing the attributes of Pine versus Spruce versus Fir varieties. I pondered height and form (only 6 ‘and over for us!), needle softness (hands-down winner is Balsam Fir), needle retention with no water (the “neglect” option please) and fragrance (tie between Scotch Pine and Fraser Fir). No pre-cut trees being sold at the local parking lot for us. We will bravely venture where no family has gone before: the tree farm! We will personally inspect and select our tree (note to self: check for small critters nesting in the branches), cut it down, have it baled (techy talk for netting to keep it in one piece on top of the car roof) and drag it back to the house.
We needed – and received – a little cooperation from Mother Nature, who obliged us with a fresh deposit of snow a few days before our planned visit to a tree farm. I thought we were protected against the elements in our winter wear, as we inched our way to the front of the sleigh line-up. But the temperature seemed to plummet by 10 degrees as we waited and the complaints about frozen fingers and toes rang out. Suddenly, standing in snow up to my knees surrounded by endless rows of trees, seemed less attractive.
Many tree growers are family-run operations, including Hadley Tree Farm in Lachute, QC , Downey Tree Farm & Nursery in Hatley, QC and Quinn’s Farm in the Montreal area . Each farm offers a full-range of activities for families to experience cutting down their own Christmas tree.
We were accompanied on our ride out to the evergreen patch by a multi-talented Santa, who piloted the sleigh (exceeding the delighted expectations of my toddler). He also showed my husband the finer points of using a bow saw, all the while keeping up a bilingual repartee with other families likewise dedicated to finding the perfect specimen. Seems it’s not such a hard job because the tree farm specializes in growing only well-formed, full-bodied evergreens. Ten minutes into our adventure, we were the proud owners of a 9’ fir tree that even my ‘tween confessed was pretty awesome.
Besides learning how to grow perfect trees, turns out that the new generation of farmers has learned a thing or two about product extension for the holidays. Back at the welcome centre, I load up on baked goodies and a gorgeous bundle of evergreen boughs perfect for wreaths, which will enable me to make our family’s Christmas a true old-fashioned experience.