It has been many years since I have had a real tree in my home. For those who do not know me that well I will give you the many reasons why......
I grew up in a small town and my mother was a teacher in special education and my father owned the local restaurant in town. It was a fast food, mom and pop type place called Jerry's Drive-In. I have many fond memories of the Drive-In because it was the local hang out and it was my place of employment from around 10 years old until we sold it after I graduated from college. Jerry's employed many of my friends and it was a place that I did homework, waited for my mom to get out of work, spent many hours waiting on people, cooking in the kitchen and everything else that goes along with a family business.
When my sister and I were young my dad began to think about the future and he wanted something more for income (I am sure he was thinking about college tuition even that early). We lived on a lake and had lots of land across the street from our home and he used it for hunting and then he decided to plant blue spruce trees. I remember planting seedlings as a young girl and it began to grow. Every year he added more and at the height of the business we had nearly 60,000 trees growing. He depended on my sister and me to help with the planting, watering, pruning and harvesting. The there was a 4 week window in the summer when the trees needed to be pruned. We hated pruning time so much but it was not something we could get out of. At 6am we received our wake up calls to go out and prune before it got too hot. We were usually done by 8am and had some down time before we headed into the Drive-In to help out for lunch hour. During pruning time we would sometimes go back out in the evening and prune another couple of rows before we were again free to do what we wanted to do. Dad always said that it was our college education but it never made us like it any better. Mom was always picking up the lose ends during pruning as well. She would spend her lunch hours helping out at the Drive-In with the lunch hour rush and would go and close up the Drive In at night sometimes if we were still in the fields. (You could call the trees a family affair I guess) We would plant every year so we had many trees at many different sizes so we would have nurseries come in and buy up big sections to use for landscaping. Most of the trees were bagged and burlap ed but the really big ones had to be dug by bigger machines than we had. The best part of having the nurseries come in is that they would take the whole field, dig the trees and take them away. That meant that Heidi and I didn't have to do anything. Dad kept harvesting and planting more and more until recently when I think he is done with the tree business.
I bet no one remembers the draught in the 80's when we were without any rain for a long time.(I remember it as if it were yesterday) Dad rigged a barrel system where we would water the trees by hand in order to keep them alive during this scary time. Every year the trees needed to be butt pruned. We had to bend over and clip the branches from the base of the little trees. When they hit 4ft tall we had to prune each and every tree....every year until they were harvested. Pruning consisted of long machetes, gloves and leg guards. Dad taught my sister and me well with lots of patience and teaching. We would each take a row (the rows could be half a mile long) and we would walk around each tree, swinging and shaping each tree without taking off too much. It was kind of an art form. You needed to have the momentum of a full swing with a slight snap of the wrist to ensure a clean cut rather than a rip of a branch. We also carried our nippers cut out any multiples leaders (trees sometimes grow with multiples leaders and if you don't get rid of the excess leaders you risk deformed trees later on) My dad was very meticulous and proud of his farm and spent countless hours spraying, weeding and making his fields as perfect as he could. My dad would never be accused of not putting in a hard days work.
I went to college and would come home to help out with busy times either at the restaurant or on the tree farm. I moved to the metropolitan Detroit area after college and for a couple of years I would have my dad bring a load of trees down, fill my garage and sell them to my friends. The tree thing got old for me very quickly so I ended up buying a fake tree 8 years ago. (I always wondered what it would be like not get a poked by the needles, not have to water the stupid thing and be able to box it up without a mess). Well I have a confession to make.....This year we have a real tree....from the farm.
Thanksgiving weekend this year was busy for Eamon and Liam because of a hockey tournament but that also left me home with the younger four with not much going on. I decided to road trip it up north to my parents house for a sleepover thru Sunday. I thought about giving the triplets and Mairin the experience of getting a real tree. I told my dad that he had to cut it for me, tie it up and attach it to my roof so that all I had to do was unload it and put it on the base. Of course my dad made it happen and we put the tree up this week. David and I agree that it is the best looking tree we have had in years. Maybe enough time has passed for me to forget all of the time spent in the fields on the trees.