News from Vermont #392 What More Could You Ask For

January 16, 2018

Hello again Maple People,
We just had a blessed Christmas day which proved to be truly an old fashion one. Contrary to some of our more recent moderate Christmases, the falling snow guaranteed a white¬† one…very white! I was glad to just watch it from the comfort of our warm living room. Another thing that made our Christmas old fashion was our tree. My granddaughter and I trudged out into our acreage, way beyond hundreds manicured trees in our sales yard, and cut an extremely “wild” Balsam Fir. I say “wild” because the tree of choice these days is totally filled out, symmetrical, fresh, fragrant and farm-raised.
Today’s demand for perfect trees, in fact, has created a huge industry of tree farms. Here on our place, the planting of 1000 trees each year is only the beginning of our job to make perfect Christmas trees. Because conifers never shape up in the wild to the quality demanded these days, we have to be “mother hens” to these trees for seven to eight years. After they’re planted, we must remove grass and weeds from them (to a Christmas tree, even a maple seeding is a weed). Then, they need other kinds of TLC including an annual “hair cut” called shearing. Shearing causes their bows to grow more plentiful and uniformly. It also creates, over the seven to eight year period, the desired conical shape. And that, my friends, is why Christmas trees cost what they do.
In his quest to find the perfect tree for too many people, this old Christmas tree guy has oft gotten into trouble. Sometimes when everything fails, including twirling, sniffing, measuring, and munching (yes, I’ve had folks taste needles before), I take them on our farm trailer out into our acreage for a look at trees yet to be cut. Trees that are too tall, I lop off. Trees that are too short, I leave growing. I really aim to please.
Two days before Christmas, when I was beginning to breath a sigh of relief that all Christmas tree folks had finally been satisfied, I went home for a little R&R. No sooner had I settled in with a good book when the telephone rang. It was one of the girls down at the store saying a guy named “Sal” was there wanting to talk with me. She then handed the phone over to him.
In a gruff, gravely, voice, the man said, “R’membah me, da fella y’talked to lass year ’bout a special Chrittmas tree?”. I didn’t and prepared to get lambasted for ruining his Christmas. He loudly interrupted my apology…”Don’t tell me y’forgot me man! I was countin’ on ya!”. He went on to say that I had promised to shape a special tree for him, “y’know, an hourglass”. I pictured his hands moving in sexy downward curves. His tirade went on…something about “his people” in relation to my future! I interrupted it with a desperate apology for forgetting and a offer to make up for my mistake any way I could. Suddenly his voice morphed into my buddy Bill’s. “Gotcha” Bill said through gales of laughter…”Just rattlin’ your cage!”.
I went back to my quality R&R that day so glad to have “dodged that bullet”. All joking aside, Christmas trees are a serious thing for most folks, sort of a placebo for everything in their lives that goes wrong. They all want “the perfect tree” and I’ve been hearing from many…”mission accomplished” here at our farm. As far as our own family’s taste goes, we like “wild”. Yup, that stroll out into our acreage with my granddaughter was my kind of perfection!

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