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December 8, 2023
For as long as I can remember, it has been a family Christmas tradition to get a u-cut tree.
Recently, we went out as a family to search for the perfect tree. I guess it is about the fun of the hunt, finding that perfectly shaped tree with a straight trunk, and the right kind of branches that will hold all the decorations – but not be too prickly to decorate.
As a family of seven, we end up debating over seven ‘perfect’ trees each year. Then the task is to try and get the majority of the family on the same page and choose one that will go home with us.
Credit: Kyle Stackhouse
We aren’t high end shoppers here. We refuse to spend the big bucks for a tree. At the places we shop, selection has dwindled the last couple of years. We had the ‘Charlie Brown tree’ a few years ago. This year’s tree is a close second.
It was very wide, well-shaped tree, but only about 5 feet tall and had one of the most crooked trunks you could find. We got it home, put it up on about 16 inches of paver blocks, and it looks great – at least, from the road through the front window!
Credit: Kyle Stackhouse
Anyway, it’s about the experience, right? And in that case, this tree will certainly be memorable!
Every year the discussion comes up about having our own tree farm. Probably the biggest obstacle is the long-term time and land investment. It takes 5 – 10 years before a single tree can be harvested.
While we do have some lighter soils that would be suited to a Christmas tree farm, it would just be a lot of work upfront to have a selection large enough to be sustainable, then hope that people come buy our trees.
Some of the well-established tree farms in the area make buying a tree the ‘Hallmark’ experience, with Santa, cookies, even sleigh (or wagon) rides, and more. It would just take a lot of energy, not to mention adding tree trimming to the summer worklist of a grain farm that already feels swamped.
So, all that being said, I don’t think we’re going to start a tree farm. But Rachael and I did decide it might be nice to take a small area and plant 20 or 30 trees every year so that someday the kids will be able to bring their families home and hunt their own Christmas trees. Maybe it could become a new tradition? Who knows, maybe one of the kids will grow up to be a tree farmer someday!
After graduating from Purdue University in 1999 with a degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Kyle Stackhouse began farming in Plymouth, Ind., in northern Indiana. Kyle farms alongside his father Brad, not as an employee but as an owner who runs separate businesses in three counties in a 20-mile radius. Kyle shares insight into day to day operations, current issues, and management of the family's mid-sized grain farm that specializes in NON-GMO and Identity Preserved crops.
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