FARM HISTORY. Our family got out of full-time farming back in the 1950s. Steep hillsides and places with wet or shallow soil got planted as a reforestation project by the kids. As those little trees got about 7 feet tall, neighbors asked if they could have some as Christmas trees. So we sold some of the best looking ones. As time went by, and as the kids grew up and went their own ways, the trees became forest. In the 1990s we got the idea to start again, this time with deliberate pruning and shearing so that we could sell nearly every tree.
SPECIES. Now we have thousands, in different lots. We have experimented with many species, and we have paid the price of choosing the wrong ones! Fraser firs are nice, but our deer ate them all. We had a few thousand Douglas Firs too, but as they got to the perfect height, a disease swept through and we had to burn them on the stump. Blue Spruces too were a disaster - they all died of unknown causes. We have a few Concolor Firs, but they are not doing very well.
White Spruce and Norway spruce are our most successful species- they grow very fast after they get about 4 feet high. They shape well and , are actually hard to kill! Deer hate them. Balsam Firs are native to the area, and they thrive here, but our deer eat them. See 'Regrowth" below to find out how we deal with that problem. We have some Meyer Spruce, which look very much like Blue Spruce. They are available as pre-cuts only. And lastly, we have Good Old Scotch Pine, once the most popular species, they grow the fastest by far. We have a lot of self-seeded ones that we decided to shape up. They'll be available in in limited numbers, 2024.
REGROWTH FROM STUMPS. You will see many Balsam Firs with a length of bare trunk from knee-high to waist high. This is because our deer have eaten the new growth within their browsing zone. We fought them and lost - so we have adapted and let Bambi eat the lower growth, and start our Christmas trees above the browse line, which is about 4 feet off the ground. You will find these very easy to saw at waist height! And a side benefit is that in the spring these stumps put out another leader that we make into a new tree. This process is actually a very old tradition called "coppicing", and it is usually very successful. Please help us by leaving all the green limbs on the stump, so it can stay alive and put up a new leader in the spring. This saves us a tremendous amount of labor, time, and money! Please cut the coppiced trees above the living stump.
If you desire some boughs for green decoration do not cut them from any tree! Ask and we'll cut some from one of our hopelessly overgrown giants - that's why we keep them.
WEED and PEST CONTROL. We mow around our little seedlings in spring and early summer to give them a good start against grass and weeds. Then we let the weeds grow! This give insects and other pests something to live on, instead of our crop trees. Then we mow thoroughly again in the fall after the first frost. This gives you easy and convenient access to the trees. We are not certified organic, but our practices are similar. We do occasionally use small amounts hand-sprayed herbicide on the weeds that directly threaten seedlings. We do so in spring before flowers are out, so as to be no threat to bees and other pollinators. We quit mowing in late June or early July. This allows the milkweeds to thrive and provide sustenance for the Monarch Butterflies. We let as many Golden Rod grow as we can to provide for bees in September. These practices are working very well. We are now mixing species in the rows. This further reduces the spread of disease, since a like species in a mono culture can be devastated in one season.
MACHINERY. We mow using old fashioned light weight garden tractors or walk-behind mowers. This is economical, and their light weight does not compact the soil. We have a motor operated shearing machine, but we do not use it except when radically re-shaping trees that have been severely damaged by deer or snow loading. We use a chainsaw to cut off stumps at ground level. Shearing (shaping) is done with hand tools.