Thanksgiving was over, which means we had the go-ahead to dive straight into the Christmas season with gusto.
Boxes of decorations were carried up from the basement, Christmas carols filled the house, and the first Christmas activity of the season was planned…
It was tree-hunting time!
Our annual trip to the tree farm to search out the perfect tree, cut it down, and haul it home, is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I love bundling up in warm clothes, pulling on our muck boots and hiking through the rows of evergreens in search of the perfect tree.
For the last few years our annual hunt has occurred at Pioneer Trails Tree Farm, a tree farm 35 minutes away in Poland, Ohio.
I was especially excited about this year’s hunt, because it was Brandon’s first time joining us in this beloved tradition. In fact, it was his first time cutting down a Christmas tree or having a live tree at all.
We decided to go and get our Christmas tree on Friday morning. It was one of the few windows of time in the upcoming weeks that all eight members of the family would be home during Pioneer Trails’ open hours.
We drove over a bit early so we could be in the parking lot when the gates opened. Grace had work at noon so we wanted to make sure we had at least 45 minutes to find our tree before she had to leave for work in her car that she drove separately, leaving us to finish cutting down, binding, and paying for the chosen tree.
Our plan was to decorate it as our Family Night activity on Sunday evening, so Friday’s only task was to pick the tree and get it home.
Pioneer Trails has a seamless system established that makes the process easy and fun for families.
Step 1: Pick the TYPE of evergreen that best fits your family’s needs. They had 7 different types of trees on display with signs describing the traits of each type of tree. We were able to see and touch the branches of each type of evergreen, determining the pros and cons of each type. It was helpful to see them standing side by side, allowing for the best comparison.
Once we had decided on what type of tree we wanted it was time for the next decision…
Step 2: Pick the SIZE of the tree you want. On a large sign posted near the tree display there was a map that indicated where on the farm to find the different types of evergreens. The map was color coded to show where to find the right sized tree for your home. We were looking for a tree that fell into the 10+ feet category so we knew we wanted to head to the orange areas of the map.
Step 3: It was time to grab a tree wagon and a saw and head out into the field.
There are different options available for families to get to the four corners of the farm where their dream trees are located. There are tractor driven wagons, horse driven carriages, or you can simply hike to the patch of trees where your tree is planted. This year we opted to walk since the section we were “hunting” in was near the front of the tree farm,
But we did stop at the horse-drawn carriage long enough to say “hello” to the beautiful horses that carry visitors around the tree farm.
Step 4: Find the PERFECT tree. This is where all the diplomacy of a United Nations General Assembly comes into play as 6 children, with 6 distinct opinions, head out in search of the perfect tree. Once they find the tree of their dreams they then must sell their siblings on their find.
After 30 minutes of walking, looking, hemming and hawing, we had narrowed a dozen choices down to 3. After a family vote we decided on this beauty:
Step 5: It was time to cut it down! Brandon asked if he could take on this important job. Having never been involved in the process before, he was eager to be inducted into this beloved tradition. He shed his coat, got down on the ground, and began to saw. After a few minutes of sweat and labor, down it came…
Step 6: The next step was to load it up. Using our tree wagon we worked together to load our monster tree onto the wagon.
The kids took turns pushing and pulling it back to the barn.
Step 7: Once we reached the barn, the staff took over. They shook the loose needles from the tree and fed it through the binding machine to wrap it up for an easier transport home.
Step 8: The final step was to pay for our beautiful Christmas tree and stop for our traditional tree farm photo, capturing a special memory on film as we celebrated Brandon’s first tree-hunting adventure…
The first of MANY to come!