Christmas trees are a labor of love for local farmers

Numerous local Christmas tree farms offer unique experiences for every kind of tree shopper.

A walk on the wild side

An outdoor, Christmas tree adventure is what Beerbower Christmas Tree Farms provides for their customers said Les Beerbower, owner of the farm.

“It’s more of an outdoor experience to come here — it’s a beautiful walk around our 60 acres, it’s all mowed and there’s no mud,” Beerbower said. Beerbower provides a map to all customers and invites them to walk at their leisure, exploring his farm. Mushrooms of different varieties grow amongst the Christmas trees and the farm includes a bridge over Powers Creek where wild Chinook salmon run.

Two herds of elk and some deer roam the fields, and occasionally maul a Christmas tree or two.

“The trees on the outside are sacrificial trees,” Beerbower said pointing to a trunk stripped bare with large, hoof prints nearby. “That was going to be a nice Noble, but it’s toast now.”

Other wild animals, such as grouse, rabbits, squirrels and the like, make the farm home and add to the wild, woodland experience. Holly trees grow near the salmon bridge and Beerbower said it is free for the cutting.

A large antique kettle serves as a fire pit and the Beerbowers offer free hot chocolate, chocolate chip cookies and candy canes. Bailing the trees is also included in the price of the tree.

The Beerbower family makes the Christmas tree buying experience an easy one, said Beerbower who has help from his sons and daughter.

“You pick the tree you want, tag it and we cut it for you. We bale it and make it easy to take home and get into your home,” Beerbower said. “It’s not more than a few minutes once you pick your tree. You can enjoy the bonfire, have a cup of hot chocolate while you wait.”

Beerbower said he cuts a few trees to have on hand for those who’d rather not walk or if someone arrives after dark. Beerbower said Santa Claus will visit on Dec. 4 from noon to 2 p.m. A photographer will be on hand to capture the moment with $5 photographs. Proceeds from the sale of photographs go to the East County Food Bank.

“We have so much fun and just enjoy meeting all the people,” Beerbower said. “It wasn’t in our business plan to make Christmas tree cutting a family adventure, but it’s worked out that way. With some forests closed up, this is the ‘in the woods’ experience that families are looking for.”

Presidential trees

Hedlund Christmas Trees is the home of the grand champion Christmas tree awarded by the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association. A Nordmann fir was awarded the trophy in September, and now will be entered in the national competition for a chance to supply a Christmas tree at the White House.

Hedlund’s Trees have already been showcased at the White House for two presidents. The trees were bi-partisan, adorning the White House for both the Clinton and G. W. Bush administrations.

“Forty years of growing Christmas trees, you learn what is the perfect tree,” said Ed Hedlund, owner. And in 40 years, he’s seen it all at his farm.

“Last year, a guy proposed to his girlfriend on our tree farm. She said yes,” Hedlund said. “People come out and spend the day with their families. Mom, dad, kids, grandparents and extended family. There’s families coming here from Seattle, Tacoma and Centralia. It’s a good family get-together.”

Hedlund’s, a 50-acre farm, offers a family-oriented experience with free wagon rides, a 42-foot tall snowman and free candy canes for the kids. Vendors sell food and beverages and Christmas crafts on the weekend, and Santa Claus makes an appearances on the weekends for a Christmas photo-op.

Hedlund’s provides hand-saws for their u-cut trees, and if that becomes too tiring, the Hedlunds offer chainsaw-cutting assistance at no charge. Bailing the tree is an extra $2 charge.

“The kids take turns sawing the tree and the dad will usually finish it off,” Hedlund said. “If he gets tired, we can help.”

“We try to make a family experience for everybody and we’ve got the best trees in the country,” Hedlund said.

Everybody deserves a Christmas tree

Hockett Family Christmas Trees is the easiest and fastest place to get a fresh cut Christmas tree said Lois Hockett, owner, with a location right off US 12.

“We’re just right off the freeway, it’s easy in and easy out. And we’ve got the best customer service,” Hockett said. “We cut the tree for you and help you get it onto your car.”

Bailing service is not offered but the Hocketts will help secure the tree to a vehicle, and which is included in the price of the tree.

In addition to Christmas trees, the Hocketts sell whimsical ornaments like reindeer made of limbs and snowmen made of the rounds. Wreaths are also available for purchase.

Free candy canes are offered to kids and Hockett said for some kids, it’s candy cane first, and the tree is secondary.

Hocketts offers pre-cut trees for as low as $10 because, as Lois Hockett said, “Everybody deserves a Christmas tree. We know not everyone can afford to spend even $20 on a tree and once you get the ornaments on them, they’re just as beautiful.”

“This time of year, it’s a lot of fun. It’s demanding, busy, but mostly it’s really fun. We love our customers,” Hockett said. “And we want everyone to enjoy the season with a tree.”

Tips from the experts

Watering the tree once it arrives home is the most important tip in keeping a Christmas tree fresh through the holiday season. All the tree farmers advised giving the freshly cut tree lots of water.

“A tree will drink a half gallon of water on the first day,” Beerbower said. “When you get yourself a cup of coffee in the morning, give your tree water. If you don’t keep it watered, it’ll be a fire hazard by Christmas.”

Beerbower said if the tree dries out, it’s “toast” because sap will harden at the cut making it impossible for water to be absorbed.

“There’s no recovering from drying out,” Beerbower said.

Hedlund said his prize-winning tree is still fresh because he has kept it watered and in a cool location. The awards were announced in September and his tree will stay fresh through Christmas.

“I know a woman who decorates her tree with Valentine’s Day ornaments because her tree stays fresh for that long,” Hedlund said.

Another tip, said Beerbower, is to keep bailing on the tree until it is in the house and placed perfectly, exactly straight in the tree stand with a fresh dose of water.

“It’s a lot easier to handle the tree when it’s bailed because it’s not very big around,” Beerbower said. “Don’t fight it and leave the bailing on.”

Hedlund said what makes a good tree for someone depends on taste. Some prefer bushier trees and others prefer a slender shape.

Nobles hold their needles very well and have stronger limbs, Hedlund said, making it a customer favorite. Both Hedlund and Beerbower favor the Grand fir for its delicious “Christmassy” scent.

“That’s Christmas right there,” Beerbower said.

Beerbower Christmas Tree Farm

447 Cloquallum Road, Elma

(360) 470-0151

Trees offered: Douglas, Grand and Noble firs.

Prices: Any size Douglas $30; any size Grand $40; any size Noble $50.

Hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Hedlund Trees

266 Middle Satsop Road, Montesano

(360) 470-0121

Trees offered: Noble, Douglas and Grand firs

Prices: Depends on species and size ($25 and up)

Hours: Weekdays from 10 a.m. until dark and weekends from 9 a.m. until dark

Hockett Family Christmas Trees

141 Clemons Road, Montesano

(360) 249-5209

Trees offered: Noble, Grand, Nordmann and Douglas firs

Prices: Pre-cut trees range from $10 to $40; trees in field range from $25 to $40. Prices vary according to tree species and size.

Hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Additional local tree farms

Rustemeyer Christmas Tree Farm

17 Rustemeyer Road, Aberdeen

(360) 986-0462

Trees offered: Noble Fir

Prices: $30 to $40, depending on size of tree

Hours: Daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Christmas Eve

KC’s Christmas Trees

950 SR 105, Aberdeen

(360) 580-1658

Trees offered: Danish and Grand Noble Fir

Prices: $25 for Danish Nobles and $40-$45 for Grand Nobles, depending on size of tree

Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to dusk through Dec. 17