Visiting a Christmas tree farm
North Carolina farmers grow more than 50 million Fraser fir trees on 30,000 acres in the western part of the state. After visiting a choose-and-cut farm, one of those trees is now decorated in our living room.
Normally we buy our tree from a local tree lot. This year our oldest son said he wanted to cut one down. So, we packed up the car and headed off for a five-hour drive across the state. He thought we were going to the forest, but we really went to a farm where the trees are planted and grown as a crop.
Fraser firs are planted on almost 40 farms in the state that open for families like us to pick their own tree. A friend from the area recommended one, so we arrived an hour before they opened. It’s a good thing we did, because a line was already forming like it was Black Friday.
The farm was sectioned off into areas based on how tall the trees were. It can take 12 to 15 years for a Fraser fir to reach harvest size. The trees closest to the entrance were the perfect size for our 2-year-old, but we were looking for a larger tree. A hayride took us up the mountain and left us at the base of a field with trees ranging from 7 to 9 feet tall.
Each tree had a color-coded tag that indicated its height. We also had a measuring pole, which the two oldest boys carried up the side of the mountain. When they picked the perfect tree, we raised the green end of the pole in the air, and the man with the chain saw came for our tree. After cutting it down, the tree was carried off to the baling area.
Even though we’d picked our tree, the boys wanted to climb to the top of the lot. They looked like Sir Edmund Hillary conquering Mount Everest, or at least how I image he looked. Even the youngest refused to be carried and worked his way up the mountain, which is a challenge for us because where we live the land is flat.
From the top of the mountain we could see the farm with thousands of trees in different stages of growth. We watched people climbing through them to search for the perfect one. This was our first trip to a tree farm, but I have a feeling it won’t be our last.