This year we decided to get our Christmas tree from a family owned farm, Maple Row Farm, in Easton, Connecticut. This is one of my efforts to support local agriculture (rather than buying a tree grown in Canada or from some other New England state). I'm behind this, why we find a live tree and cut it down and why we support Connecticut agriculture. Now my kids like the tradition and want to keep it up, even though they do find something to complain about, cold air, cold wind, sore feet, and so on. My husband would be happy to buy a pre-cut tree from some roadside stand or even Home Depot, no matter if it was even grown in America let alone in this state.
First we tried to figure out which areas to walk toward to find the variety of tree we wanted. We nixxed certain types of trees as some variety's branches are too weak to hold heavy ornaments. And the one year we bought a blue spruce, I found the needles were so stiff it made my fingers bleed as I tried to put the ornaments on! Since they don't give a paper map, I snapped this photo and used the camera to help us navigate around the farm.
I won't keep a secret. I won't tell a tall tale. In the name of honesty and honesty about family life and parenting I will divulge details of the imperfection of the trip.
First this year for the first time let older son (age 11) carry the saw. This set off our 8.5 year old into a fit about why wasn't he competent enough or old enough to carry the saw? He pouted. (Do you see the pout in this photo?)
We were reminded again of why growing trees on hills is tricky. When the trunk is too bent it just can't stand up in the tree stand correctly and is prone to tipping over. Even with our moveable tree stand, we have had trees fall numerous times in the past and many heirloom ornaments were broken (as well as new ones) plus it takes a lot of work to deal with that mess.
Here is just one field on just one of the many hills at this farm.
So one after the other we nixxed the trees if their trunks were ill suited to the job. It got a bit ridiculous actually. We'd see a seemingly perfect tree in the distance, rush toward it, only to find a too-crooked trunk or big gaping holes or some other issue.
Next older son found a tree about ten feet tall which was skinny and just too tall. We nixxed that as we would have to cut off a lot of the good part of tree just to get it to fit in the room which seemed like waste. Plus it wasn't fat. We didn't even bother look at the trunk.
Note the pout in this photo, when we thought we had decided to buy this tree, older son was mad that we weren't buying HIS tree.
We went all over the place and still couldn't find a tree. Older son was still pouting. We had a discussion about compromise. I explained I like a fat tree so it can display more ornaments that we own. And how in past years with skinny trees sometimes less than half of our ornaments fit on the tree. We set off to a new field to look for a fat tree.
Finally my husband gave in and said we could get the tall tree our older son picked out. It was about a quarter mile from where we were, so off we went, hiking through the snow. Trudge, trudge, trudge. This is the famous hill we went up and down and up and down.
The tree that was supposedly perfect and memorable, could not be found by my older son. Finally he thinks we found it but the trunk was mangled and that is why no one else had cut it down to use it!
We picked the closest tree that looked good. It has a nice shape but is more narrow than I like. And we all decided we wanted this one as we were sick of walking around and not finding a perfect tree.
Here is me and my kids in front of the tree before we cut it down.
My younger son, still feeling resentful about his brother and him being able to hold the saw, asked if he could cut the tree down. Our older son had never done that task. My younger one is very competitive. He cut it down with me just helping him guide the saw a little. He was elated and so proud of himself that he got to use the saw and he cut it down by himself. I noted that it was cold to kneel in the snow in jeans but he never complained, not once. He is a hard worker and doesn't mind working up a sweat or doing physical exertion to get a laborious job done.
Younger son then asked if he could help his father carry the tree to the pick up spot. It was heavy but he did it.
He was glowing with pride. He wanted a photo with his conquest. Based on this I have a hunch if we taught him, he'd be happy to hunt game.
The farm as we left...
All in all it was a good trip. The imperfections in the day were pretty much forgotten. All hurt feelings were smoothed over. I'm glad we went.
Here is the tree before we decorated it.
We are already discussing what we will do next year. I am tempted by lower prices for pre-cut trees sold on lots that are superior in size and quality. But already the kids are refusing and saying no, let's just try a different farm next year...maybe some other farm in Connecticut would have more of the fat trees that we'd like...