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broodings from the burrow

December 9, 2017

virtual advent 2017: day 9
posted by soe 5:30 am

virtual advent tour

Welcome back to our second Saturday of Advent! I hope you have some fun holiday-related things planned for this weekend in addition to the things that need to get done. Whether it’s playing a favorite Christmas movie while you’re addressing cards or wrapping gifts, holding an impromptu Christmas music dance party in the middle of cleaning, going out to see light displays after your grocery shopping, or even eating a couple Christmas cookies or candy in the car on the way to your next errand, remember to make some time for yourself. It helps to keep the season enjoyable, rather than letting it stress you out.

Today the tour circles back to me. Last Saturday, Rudi and I took a ride out to Homestead Farm in Poolesville, Maryland, to cut down our tree. Homestead is where we go to pick strawberries and apples and other fruits (and tomatoes, once) and is about 45 minutes away. We bought our tree here twice before they needed to mostly take a couple years off to let their trees catch up with the demand, which is when we switched to the farm where we cut last year’s tree (whom we then also exhausted). When I came blueberry picking this summer, I made sure to look at the conifers to see if they’d have what we were looking for and thought things looked promising.

Last Saturday was quite temperate. It was a nice day to be out in just a sweatshirt. Today would be far less pleasant, as it’s supposed to snow much of the day. Rudi and I have cut trees in up to a foot of snow on the ground, and it’s just not that much fun.

They recommended we drive down to the field, but we opted to walk, it being neither far nor foul. I thought this sign was funny given what we were coming to pick (although it was really there because there are still apples in the orchard trees):

Please Pay for All That You Pick Christmas Trees

This is the first tree (I think they’re Canaan Firs this year) that looked promising:

Too Tall

However, we’ve learned that the tree cannot be taller than Rudi can reach or it runs into the ceiling.

However, we also need a tree that will hold more than six ornaments, so we ruled out anything too small.

Too Short

A lot of the trees this year had tiny pine cones near the top of the tree that looked like this:

Budding Pine Cones?

I’ve noticed them some years in the past, and I think they signal it’s been a warm fall and that the cones are trying to bloom. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that.) They’re kind of like nature’s own ornaments, but they do hinder hanging up your own, so if you have an decorations-heavy house, like we do, you should search out a tree with fewer such ornaments.

We had two trees in serious contention, but Rudi suggested we pick the one with bigger spaces between the branches, since that’s better for ornament-hanging.

Our Tree

With a very sharp bow saw, Rudi made quick work of the actual cutting down of the tree.

Sawing Success

We carried it back to the barns, where they shook the tree for us. This gets rid of some of the pine cones, most of the grasses, and hopefully anyone who was calling your tree home ten minutes ago. (When I was growing up, we’re pretty sure we brought a resident mouse in a tree we brought home one year. We had a cat, so things did not end nicely for it, and my mother, who stepped on the corpse in her sock feet, also wasn’t too pleased with how events played out.)

Shaking the Tree

After they’ve shaken the tree, then they run it through the baler, which helps constrict the tree in plastic netting to make it easier to drive with it and to get it indoors (at least in our building):


Rudi inherited this ski roof box from a friend who moved away and it’s too big to take off the roof, so last year we figured out how to temporary detach the hinges so we could jam a tree inside instead. It’s secured with bungee cords:

Tree in Coffin

When we get it home, it lives in the hallway in a bucket of water for a day, partly so we can finish cleaning and partly so anyone who didn’t get shaken off the tree has one more shot to depart in a cat-free environment.

Then we bring it inside, get it in the tree stand, secure it to something mostly stationary (I pick the curtain rod), and put lights and then ornaments on. You’re supposed to consider which side of your tree you’d like to have face into the room, and I forgot to do that this year. I also forgot to remember to put the cut-away in the stand in an advantageous spot for watering. Oh well. It’s all fine.

This is what my tree looked like at the end of my tree-trimming party:

Not Fully Decorated Tree

Thank goodness for Holden and Caroline who are just old enough to hang ornaments carefully and not so old they’re bored with the idea altogether. People routinely see my tree at this point and tell me it looks great and that clearly I’m done. They never seem to understand that that’s not how a tree is supposed to look from my perspective. It’s supposed to look more like this:

Nearly Done Decorating

I still have one more box for Rudi and me to put on tomorrow. Then it’ll be complete!

Thanks for attending my tree-trimming from afar and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

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