Tag Archives: Cut your own tree

It’s Tree Hunting Time!!

Standard

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 and Patchwork Farm was transformed. The halls were beautifully “decked” by the close of the day on Friday. There was only one decoration missing…

IMG_8926 (2)

It was tree-hunting time!

IMG_9009 (2) - Copy

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.

IMG_9011 (2) - Copy

For the last few years our annual hunt has occurred at Pioneer Trails Tree Farm, a tree farm 35 minutes away in Poland, Ohio.

IMG_9012 (2) - Copy

We decided to go and get our Christmas tree on Saturday morning.

IMG_9005 (2)

Our plan was to decorate it as our Family Night activity on Sunday evening, so Saturday’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.

IMG_9001 (2)

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.

IMG_9002 (2)

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.

IMG_9043 (2)

Step 3: It was time to grab a tree wagon and a saw and head out into the field.

IMG_9023 (2)

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 catch a ride in one of the tractor driven wagons…

IMG_9020 (2)IMG_9017 (2) - Copy

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.

IMG_9051 (2)

Step 4: Find the PERFECT tree. This is where all the diplomacy of a United Nations General Assembly comes into play as my 3 boys, with their three distinct opinions, headed out in search of the perfect tree.

After 30 minutes of walking, looking, hemming and hawing, we had narrowed a dozen choices down to one. After a family vote we decided on this beauty:

IMG_9026 (2)

Step 5: It was time to cut it down! Tyler asked if he could take on this important job.  He got down on the ground and began to saw.

IMG_9038 (2)IMG_9035 (2)

After a few minutes of sweat and labor, down it came…

Timber!!

IMG_9040 (2)

Step 6: The next step was to load it up. Using our tree sled we worked together to move our tree to the pick-up spot where the wagons would carry us and our tree back to the barn.

IMG_9049 (2)

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.

IMG_9054 (2)IMG_9060 (2)

Step 8: The final step was to pay for our beautiful Christmas tree and get it home where it would be decked out in Christmas splendor on Sunday night.

IMG_9063

Hunting for the Perfect Tree!

Standard

christmas tree

The number one item on Ozzie’s weekend wish list was, “Cut down and decorate our Christmas tree.”  Near the top of my wish list was, “Take family photos for our Christmas cards.” We knew our time was limited but God moved mountains on our behalf and we were able to fit all three of these activities into our weekend…and it was wonderful.

IMG_4590 (2).JPG

 

We began working our way through our “wish list” with an early morning visit to the tree farm. Saturday we had plans to drive out to Ohio to celebrate Thanksgiving/Early Christmas with my parents, my sister, and her kiddos. Thanksgiving dinner was scheduled for 1:00 pm and it was a two hour drive to get out to the Homestead, which meant all the cogs in this time machine needed to line up perfectly if we were going to pull off the impossible.

Everyone was up early…

IMG_4345

…getting dressed and dolled up for Christmas photos.

IMG_4435 (2)We were on the road by 8:00am and were standing at the gate of the tree farm when they opened.

IMG_4362 (2)

This year we returned to Pioneer Trails Tree Farm.

IMG_4529

We had such an awesome experience there two years ago that we decided to return there for our tree again this year.

IMG_4542

The next hour was spent searching for and cutting down our Christmas Tree.

IMG_4469 (2)

IMG_4464 (2)

My family kindly humored me with “Say Cheese!” moments as we weaved between the pines.

IMG_4393 (2)

We eventually found the beauty we were searching for…a 10-foot tall, beautiful Blue Spruce.

IMG_4565 (2).JPG

IMG_4407 (2)

IMG_4560 (2).JPG

The experience itself was even more lovely than the tree we cut down.

IMG_4458 (2)

I felt like the richest woman in the world that morning as I enjoyed one of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions…all together.

IMG_4525 (2)

The experience was PICTURE PERFECT!

IMG_4397 (2)

Later that same weekend we were able to get the tree up and decorated before Ozzie had to leave us again. Toby handled the lights, while the rest of us sorted through the boxes of ornaments in search of everyone’s favorites.

IMG_4944 (2)

Every year the kids each receive a new ornament for the tree. This is a tradition that began on Gracie’s first Christmas. Each year Toby and I search for an ornament for each of the kids (and for each other) that are reflective of each person’s life the past year. It might highlight a family vacation we took, celebrate a monumental event in that person’s life, or simply be reflective of that person’s current passions or interest.

IMG_4950 (2)

It is fun to look at each child’s pile of ornaments and see the stages and events of their lives documented through trinkets on the tree.

IMG_4957 (2)

When the kids each leave home, and have a tree of their own, they will take their collection of ornaments with them and have a nice start on their Christmas decorating.

IMG_4953 (2)

As we decorated the tree, we listened to Christmas music and sipped egg nog.

IMG_4911 (2)IMG_4973 (2)

As we scurried around the tree, looking for bare spots to hang our favorite ornaments, I reflected on the truth found within this well known quote:

The Hunt for the Perfect Tree

Standard

Trees are Short, and trees are tall,

And some drop leaves to scuff in Fall.

Trees are fat, and trees are thin,

With windows where the sun looks in.

Trees are big, and trees are small,

But Christmas Trees are best of all!”

Ahhh… the hunt for the perfect tree…

It is my favorite family holiday activity.

There is something magical about bundling up and heading out into a grove of pine trees in search of “the perfect Christmas tree.”

Every year we cut our own tree. Yes, it is more work, and A LOT more mess and hassle then just setting up an artificial tree,

but we continue this tradition year after year

because nothing in the world beats the smell of a live tree and the memories made in the woods while cutting down your own tree.

For the past 6 years we have gone to a small, locally owned tree farm near our home. We have enjoyed many memories made walking the hills of McIntyre Tree Farm, but after a tough hunt last year we realized that we have exhausted the selection of 12-14 foot trees available at McIntyre’s so we knew we would have to look somewhere else this year.

For family night we loaded into the van to go “tree hunting.” This year we tried a new Christmas tree farm:

Pioneer Trails Tree Farm.

IMG_7671 (2)

It was a 45 minute drive but well worth it. We were so impressed with this tree farm, and had such a positive experience, we will definitely be back next year as a returning customer.

What really impressed me about Pioneer Trails was the efficient system they have developed for easy tree hunting.

Step 1:

When we arrived we were directed to the line of sample trees where we were able to see and touch the different tree varieties available for harvesting. It was so nice to have them all lined up side by side where we could easily compare the colors, smells, needles, and sturdiness of the different types of Christmas trees.

IMG_7790

Step 2:

Once we decided on the type of tree we were interested in (we chose a white spruce) then we had to decide how tall of a tree we’d like. (We knew we wanted a 12-14 footer.) Using a color coded map we identified the type and size of our perfect tree on the map and knew just where to begin our hunt.

IMG_7702 (2)

Step 3:

Then we caught a ride on the wagons that make their way around the tree farm, dropping families off in the area where their perfect tree was located.

IMG_7681 (2)IMG_7684 (2)

Step 4:

There we picked up our sled, saw, and the carpet square that was used to kneel on while cutting down our tree.

IMG_7712 (2)

Step 5:

Then the search began! This part of the process is always the most time consuming as seven people scatter, quickly finding the tree that would be “perfect” for our home. Unfortunately, usually everyone is standing by a different tree. Rather than take home 7 Christmas trees we then begin the laborious challenge of compromise as we debate the merits of each tree and the kids all try to sell the family on their tree. We then usually narrow the field down to 3 possibilities before the final vote.

IMG_7738.JPG

Step 6:

Then it is time to cut it down! Usually Toby brings his chainsaw and he cuts it down in one fatal swoop, but this year we used the hand saw provided and let the kids all take a turn. (It took MUCH longer.)

IMG_7722 (2)

Step 7:

After the tree was down we loaded it onto the sleigh and it was pulled to the wagon stop where we climbed on for ride back to the barn and the employees loaded our tree onto the flat bed wagon behind the passenger wagon.

IMG_7773 (2)

Step 8:

When we arrived back at the barn the tree was carried into the barn where workers placed it onto a vibrating machine that shook it to remove all the debris and loose needles. It was very neat!

IMG_7782 (2)

Step 9:

Then the tree was sent through the binding machine where it was wrapped in twine for easy transport home. My boys LOVED watching the machines work.

IMG_7788 (2)

Step 10:

The final step was to then settle the bill. (The least fun part of the experience. ) 😉

IMG_7789.JPG

The nice thing about this tree farm is that there is no having to figure out what you owe. It is a set price of $52.00 regardless of the type of tree you choose or how big of a tree you pick.

On the way home we stopped for eggnog milkshakes at McDonalds for our family night treat.

Another magical year of “tree hunting” was a success!IMG_7678 (2)