Christmas Trees

The North Pole isn't that far away

Meriruth Cohenour December 12, 2017

A shortage of snow and reindeer is frown-worthy to some but it should not deter you from getting into the Christmas spirit! As a matter of fact, there are more than twenty Agritourism venues in the state that have prepared an alternative for you and your family, just in case that trek to the actual North Pole doesn't fit into the schedule this year. Choose and cut Christmas tree farms make up the majority of Oklahoma Agritourism's December attractions, which is exactly where I ended up last weekend with some more of my favorite people.

Neil and Jen Smith are dear friends from college. I dare you to look at these smiles and not be happy. Well, except for the little guy ... he prefers a solomn face ... but I think he enjoyed his day on the farm just as much as the rest of us.

We chose Pleasant Valley Farms for our tree adventure because of the location, selection of trees and all the other activities offered. Plus, we heard Santa makes a stop there every Saturday.

We checked in to the Christmas shop and received our instructions. No surprise here, the boys were delighted at the prospect of interacting with a potentially dangerous object. I was thankful they were willing to share the responsibility of carrying the saw ... tug-of-war with a hand saw could get messy.

The tree farm employees are happy to cut your tree for you but that was not going to happen if the boys had a say in it.

Now, there are many advantages to obtaining your Christmas tree from a choose and cut farm instead of a bargain store lot. First, the tree is fresh. You don't have to worry about how long it's been on a truck or how much water it has had since it was cut. Second, supporting your local economy and the farmer that grew the tree should make you feel good. But, in my opinion, the best thing about choosing and cutting your own tree, is that you get to spend time on the farm, in the open air, with family and friends, while taking your time finding the perfect tree for your home. As soon as we were equipped with a saw, we made our way to the field of Virginia Pines and the hunt was on.

The guys lead the way as much discussion ensued about what size and shape their tree should be.

Now remember, these trees did not come from a factory mold. They grew from a seed and were subject to Mother Nature their whole lives. Sure, some have blemishes, some have an irregular branch, but that is all part of the tree's personality.

Benton liked this one, but it was a bit too small.

Beckett found this one, but it was a bit too tall.

After evaluating all the options, a family decision was made.

With all the decision making done, it was time to harvest the tree and prepare it for the ride home.

Neil took the time to explain the process to the boys and made sure each one got a turn using the saw they had so carefully carried around.

Benton first.

Then Beckett.

The boys were quite proud of their accomplishment.

All trees are put on the shaker to expel the dead pine needles and any other debris. The Pleasant Valley workers told the boys it was to make sure the squirrels came out before they were inside the house. (Cue Chevy Chase movie here.)

Trees are put through a baler to make them easier to strap down and carry. The workers noticed the boys watching intently and let them help.

Always make sure to have plenty of "help" strapping the tree to the roof.

The hard part was done but our fun on the farm wasn't. It was definitely time for a little break so we went into the farm shop for some treats.

It was chilly that day, but even if it wasn't, hot chocolate would be required for the full Christmas effect.

Fresh popcorn was the perfect snack to eat around the campfire.

We sat around the campfire to eat our snacks, warm our fingers and chat with Randy, the farm's owner, for a few minutes before checking out the hayride and, of course, meeting Santa.

I am sure this guy works real hard catching mice and keeping an eye on the place. But first, naps by the fire.

Speaking of Santa ... come on, did you really think EVERYBODY would be happy about seeing the jolly, bearded guy?

After Santa, we visited the animals, tested out the big slides and let boys run off a bit more energy before it was time to head home. A great way to spend the afternoon, even if there was no snow and the barn didn't have any room for reindeer. You can plan your Christmas spirit adventure by searching the word "Christmas" on the Oklahoma Agritourism website or by clicking here. Merry Christmas! 

Meriruth Cohenour

Meriruth is the lead Agritourism Coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. A constant desire to explore Oklahoma and a passion for agriculture advocacy fuels her desire to bring readers entertaining and informative posts each week.