How to Select a Christmas Tree Farm - What
Features to Look for!
If you've never been to a
Christmas tree farm, some of the terms, like baling, drilling, flocking may
be gibberish. And without having experienced it, hayrides, train rides and
other amusements may not be appreciated! This page and the photos
below should help you understand what they mean and select a farm that meets
or exceeds your needs.
Determine whether you are simply looking for the best quality tree, at the
best price; or whether you are also looking for a half-day's experience for the
family. They are very different types of farms. We'll start with the simplest
and work down the page to the more elaborate types of Christmas Tree farms!
If you are only looking for a tree, then you have two options:
- choose and cut
- precut (also called pre-harvested or "fresh cut")
Choose and Cut Farms
Choose-and-cut farms range form simple plots with trees and a guy waiting by
a truck to collect your money, to agri-entertainment farms. The common point is
that the trees are growing in the ground, and you walk out among them to choose
the one you like. Then with a bow saw (usually provided free of charge by
the farm), you cut the tree down.
Many farms of the option of having them cut the tree down for you!
Next you bring the tree back to your car. Again, there are many
options. Some farms provide little wagons. Others have a truck drive
out to pick it up. In some cases you may have to carry it yourself. Others
have hayrides / hay wagons back to the farm, with a trailer to carry your tree.
Precut Trees / Lots
Most farms that sell choose-and-cut Christmas trees also sell pre-cut trees.
Why? Because not all varieties of Christmas trees grow well everywhere.
Many people prefer the traditional Fraser Fir, but it does not grow well in hot
climates like the deep South; so tree farms in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, etc.
often have preharvested Fraser Firs brought in from North Carolina each week.
Of course, a seller of nothing but precut Christmas trees with none
growing on the premise, is usually called a Christmas tree lot, rather than a
tree farm. We list those, too, on this website, because many of them
have evolved into a farm-like experience, or certainly a Christmas experience.
And few people who have seen "A Christmas Story" can deny that is also a unique
and traditional Christmas tree experience, too. My 3 year old is equally happy among
the pre-cut or the choose-and-cut trees!
Trees and More!
The tree selecting and cutting experience is a fun family event all on its
own, but many farms enhance the experience to make it a half-day family outing.
Here's what they often offer:
Santa visits some farms, typically from noon to 3 pm on Saturdays, Sundays,
too, IF the farm is open on a Sunday (many aren't). There's usually no
charge, unless you want a photo, so bring your camera!
Yes, you can see, and sometimes even pet, real live reindeer at a few of the
farms. There's no guarantee that they are Rudolph or any of the original eight (Prancer, Comet,
Totallyblitzed, Sneezy, Doc, etc... I nevercan remember their names) but they are big, hay munching real
reindeer! If you've never seen one up close, they are big, usually fairly
friendly and distinctively different from ordinary white tailed deer.
Children are fascinated by them. You have toi give credit to the tree
farmers for being creative by bringing reindeer in!
I'm just waiting for the day I hear of a farmer strapping driftwood antlers to a
dog, calling him "Max" and putting him in a pen.... PETA might call him the
Christmas themed park, rides, light displays or amusement
Some farms have winter villages with a miniature North pole or other
playground activities. others have actual rides. A few even have narrow
gauge trains! More common are drive-through Christmas light displays (only at
night, of course!). Some of these may be 1 to 2 miles long.
Common to many farms, a petting zoo allows your children to actually pet or
touch some animals. Typically, rabbits, goats, chickens, sheep and
sometimes more exotic animals. Hand sanitizer and/or a washing station must be
present under many state laws and common sense!
If the listing includes "farm animals" this means you can see, and be within
a few feet of the animals, but not touch them. Usually they're behind a
fence. Often, cows and larger farm animals are present!
Who doesn't like a hayride? The rides often take you around the farm,
frequently out to the fields where the trees grow!
Often free, a few
farms charge $1 to $3. Most are tractor-pulled, but a few are horse-drawn.
Like a hayride, but you sit on benches instead of hay bales; still fun!
Sometimes, the term wagon ride or hayride is used interchangably.
If you are REALLY lucky and the weather cooperates, a few farms offer sleigh
rides, on a real big, horse-pulled sleigh! Except in very cold northern or
mountainous area, these are usually catch-as-catch can, meaning you must call in
advance to reserve a spot on a list. Then IF there is a sufficient
snowfall, they will call you back and ask if you want to go. Often stables, that do NOT sell
trees, offer sleigh rides, so be sure to check!
This page has links to the sleigh rides
we know of, listed by state!
Tree shaking provided
A mechanical device vigorously shakes the tree to knock of dead or loose
needles, and the occasional bug or rodent! Shaking is obviously a valuable
service, and is usually offered for free when it is available.
A net pulled over the tree to keep it safe and aerodynamic during its ride home
on the roof of your car. Usually offered for free.
Very similar to baling; just uses a bag instead of a net!
This usually means they will tie the branches together to keep the tree tight
during the trip home, like baling or wrapping.
Some people believe that holes drilled in the base of the tree help it to
take up water. drilling can also be done to help the tree fit in certain
types of tree stands
may be sprayed with artificial snow to make them look like they are in a snow
storm. Not my cup of tea, but some farms offer it, and some people like
Beyond Christmas trees, many farms are sell fresh, natural Christmas wreaths,
boughs, garlands and grave blankets. A few sell mistletoe, too. Many farms offer
free tree trimmings.
Most farms have a gift shop, or at least a gift area, selling Christmas
decorations. Most also sell Christmas tree stands.