Our family has typically cut a live tree for Christmas each year. With the oldest home from College for Thanksgiving and being a child that loves our simple family traditions she was all in for cutting now rather than waiting for a week and miss out. So we loaded up and headed to our favorite Tree Farm. We visit the same farm because of the horse drawn wagons that deliver and pick-up the guests and their trees from the different tree lots. A team of big Belgians draw a tandem set of wagons. The first with padded bench seats and the second for a load of fresh cut trees. You can choose from the popular Scotch Pine, Spruce, White Pine (Our beloved state tree), or the now popular Fraser Fir. Our refined process requires looking over all the likely trees, having someone reject it (selected on a unanimous vote) then moving on. Eventually we return to reconsider every tree. After much tromping, joke making, “Do you remember when…” and wearing down all collective resistance a final selection is made. Often the first tree that the youngest member of the group first considered.
The cut tree and selection team is returned to the farmstead. In the old tool shed a wood stove helps return normal blood flow to the toes and fingers. Candy canes are offered. Trees are shaken of their loose needles and bird nests, then wrapped and loaded for the trip home. Conversation comes easily with the farm folk that run the tree farm. They shared a concern for the coming years. The drought impacted their tree planting. It also stressed the 2-6 year old trees severely. Only time will tell what true impact the drought will have. “We’ll know for sure in 6-7 years”, they said.
The teamster on our wagon was happy to talk when I shared my connection to working animals. The big mare on our team was 13 years old and had been a help in training a lot of her offspring. They keep a dozen animals. They started with Amish trained stock but now breed, train and sell their own. The animals do a long day when it’s their turn. Working from 8 am till after 6 pm. The worst are the warm and muddy days. It really makes them work hard.