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Going on a tree hunt

by Carly We never had a real Christmas tree growing up, but I always wanted one.  After getting married and having a child of my own, I thought the best year to try a live tree for the first time, was the year the Little Man was one and newly walking.  Good plan, right?

We had an open concept town home so we purchased a 12 foot gate and blocked off the three sets of stairs by spreading the gate across the kitchen, dining room and living room.  The tree was a last minute decision, put up about 5 days before Christmas, outside the gate.  It was beautiful!

Since then, we've gotten a live tree every year, but I've been increasingly disappointed with the lack of longevity.  Despite keeping the house cool, never letting the tree dry out and offering it sugar water as a treat every now and then, our subsequent trees (purchased at a local tree lot about 10 days before Christmas) never lasted past Boxing Day.  Last year's tree was so dried out by Christmas Eve, I threatened everyone who came near it with bodily harm if they so much as breathed on it.  By the time we got it out the door three days after Christmas, the remaining needles were in my foyer and the bare tree was in the snow bank.

I vowed then and there to visit the tree farm next (this) year and cut down a fresh tree.

Which is where we found ourselves this weekend.  We headed out with friends to check out Thomas Tree Farm outside North Gower.  It was everything I'd hoped for.  There were homemade cookies and hot chocolate, play structures, a bonfire, a tractor wagon to take you out to the fields and a horse-drawn wagon ride once you got there.

Everything I wanted in a tree farm.  Except for trees.  Unfortunately, all they had left were small fir trees or scotch pines.  I had my heart set on a fir tree of some sort as did our friends.  At the suggestion of some staff we checked out their pre-cut trees, but were disappointed with the selection and the fact they came from outside the province and had likely been cut months ago - just like the trees at our local lot.  So while the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves running through the fields, swirling branches and visiting the outhouse, we left with only one tree . . . cut down and purchased for friends who couldn't make it that weekend.

We headed up the road to Hillcrest Tree Farm, but before getting out of the car, they let us know they had nothing left.

It was getting dark by that point, but my trusty smart phone informed me that Ian's Everygreen Plantation was open for night cutting with "well lit fields" so off we went.  Two of the three kids fell asleep on the way there and only the Little Man bolted excitedly from the car when we arrived.

A quick chat with some staff let us know that the tractor wagon wasn't making anymore trips to the fields that night and while the entrance/lot area was lit, the fields themselves weren't.  Prepared to leave disappointed once again, we were stopped by Ian himself on our way out.  He was quick to point out the hundreds of pre-cut trees in his lot.  Expecting the usual story of how they were cut weeks ago and shipped from places far, far away we prepared to continue on our way.

Ian came through for us though, explaining that the trees were cut on Thursday and were from his larger farm just outside the city.  We headed over to wander the rows, looking for the perfect tree.  Honestly, at that point, I was ready to settle for an okay tree.

We found lots of wonderful trees, of all shapes and sizes.  Jake had a quick visit to the reindeer barn and we grabbed a hot chocolate to go on our way out.  Our hunt ended happily and successfully.  We got a great tree and made some wonderful family memories.  The Little Man had a fantastic day so despite the iffy start, I highly recommend a tree farm visit.

It's not too late either - while I can't speak for the first two farms we visited, Ian's Evergreen Plantation still has lots of lovely trees to choose from and is open until 9pm every night until December 24th.  All the farms had free activities and trees ranging in price from $20 to $75.  Happy hunting!

Carly has red hair and occasionally the temper to match.  She loves potatoes, rainy nights, photography, her husband and her 4 year old son, Jacob.  Probably in reverse order.   She also blogs.