This week we put on our warm sweaters and headed out to the Skyline Ranch Tree Farm to take part in a classic holiday tradition: choosing and cutting down our own Christmas tree. Although it may not seem to be the “green” thing to do, cutting your own Christmas tree actually turns out to be quite an ecological choice. We’re not talking about pulling over to the side of the road and taking your pick of nature’s bounty, but rather heading out to a Christmas tree farm where trees are a responsibly grown seasonal crop. Once the big day has passed and your tree has been undressed, it can be mulched or given to your city for recycling.
Cutting down a farm tree is part of the season’s harvest, and at Skyline it’s more like pruning than chopping. Skyline uses trees cultured from established stumps and the stump we chose our tree from had the marks of at least three other sizable trees taken in years past. By leaving some lower branches untouched the tree will continue to grow. They plant 700 to 1000 seedlings a year here, and we could already see next year’s crop growing strong.
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Driving in we were handed a small saw and given brief directions on how to cut, and then we were on our own. Except for forgetting our mittens on what turned out to be one of the coldest days of the year so far, we were set. A farm like Skyline is right up our alley, where you wander the rows and hillsides surrounded by Douglas and Noble firs, sequoias and pines, of all sizes and shapes. We were surprised to see tons of families and friends parked along the side of the road picnicking with hot cocoa, wine, and savory snacks. Honestly, we could have stayed at this place all day and next year we’re going to bring our own picnic basket, invite our friends, bring the dogs, and make a day of it.
Selecting and cutting your own tree gives you the opportunity to get it right from the source and insures that you’re getting the freshest product available. Although firs and pines abounded, the bright green perky branches of a sequoia stood out to us, and it has an amazingly subtle citrus scent to boot. Once home, we made sure to give our tree copious amounts of water and keep it hydrated through Christmas (keep checking the water level every other day during the first week). And although trimming the tree afterward was fun, visiting the farm and choosing our tree has definitely moved to the top of the list of our favorite holiday traditions!