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Sprucing Up The Holidays; Christmas Farm Lets Customers Cut Their Own Trees ^ | November 27, 2006 | Ellen Williams-Masson

Posted on 11/27/2006 6:20:27 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin

OREGON, WI - Even Charlie Brown could get it right.

Row after row of evergreens line the slopes of Hann's Christmas Farm in Oregon, where excited children and adults search for the perfect Christmas tree in the crisp air tinged with the smell of freshly cut pine.

Andrea and Michael Schleeper of Fitchburg enjoyed a ride as their parents, Tim and Suzy, pulled them through the fields in a little red wagon for what has become a Schleeper family tradition on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Five-year-old Andrea was searching for a "giant" tree, presumably to allow ample space for gifts, and said she enjoyed "getting our new ornament" to decorate the tree.

"My husband and I started going out and cutting trees before we had kids and continued on after we had them," Suzy said. "I like it as a family tradition to start with my own family, and it gets you in the Christmas spirit."

Providing a memorable family experience is a primary goal for owners Greg and Therese Hann, who have operated the business since 2002. Greg grew up on the farm, which was started in 1969 by his parents, Al and Myra Hann.

"People come for the experience, the fun with the family," he said. "We've turned it into something fun for the kids all day long. We have popcorn and warm cider that we serve, and it's more of an event than just getting a tree."

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be making appearances at the farm for the next two weekends along with chainsaw artist Bob Younger and watercolorist Debra Krebs. A haystack complete with tunnels and a bell tower to climb is popular with the children, and a huge, 6-foot-tall wreath provides a seasonal frame for family portraits.

Maintaining the tree farm is a year-round job for Hann, who grows about 40,000 trees on 49 acres of land. Balsam, Fraser and Canaan firs, scotch and white pines, and spruce trees march in orderly lines across the fields, taking anywhere from six to 10 years to reach maturity.

In addition to the live trees, the Hanns and staff prepare about 4,500 wreaths for wholesale and retail sale. Hann also imports a wide selection of precut trees from central Wisconsin, including trees as tall as 20 feet.

A rustic dairy barn houses a well-stocked Christmas store filled with ornaments, crafts and Amish candies, and visitors are welcome to watch the action in a wreath factory next to the store. The business employs 72 people during the Christmas season.

Diane Rilling-Schultz has been making wreaths at the tree farm for 11 years and explained how her team puts the wreaths together using a wire frame and bunches of brush.

"They clip the branches to the size of the wreath, and then the brush is brought to the bunching table," she said. "The indoor wreaths have cedar and white pine, and the outdoor wreaths have cedar, white pine and balsam. We usually put a piece of each in a bunch, and then we whirl the bunches in with wire using a wreath-making machine."

The wreaths are decorated with bows, pinecones or holly as needed, and specialty items may also be added by request. The wreaths range in size from 18 inches to 9 feet tall.

The Christmas tree industry adds $50 million annually to Wisconsin's economy, according to figures provided by the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association. Wisconsin is the fifth largest Christmas tree producer in the nation, with more than 1.8 million trees harvested from 36,000 acres every year.

The unseasonably warm weather this past weekend was a boon for business as folks roamed the fields in sweatshirts or light jackets. Paul Wolf was wearing a short-sleeved shirt as he helped his girlfriend, Lara Brandt, and her daughter, Lauren, hunt for a tree.

"I think this is really fun and what a gorgeous day," Lara said. "I think it's neat to cut your own tree."

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Outdoors; Society
So...what's your choice for a Christmas Tree? Live or artificial? Got yours up yet?
1 posted on 11/27/2006 6:20:29 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin
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To: Watery Tart; KRAUTMAN; reformedliberal; Mygirlsmom; codercpc; s2baccha; ozaukeemom; PjhCPA; ...

"OT Christmas Tree" Ping!

2 posted on 11/27/2006 6:20:59 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
I usually just get a live one from the Shopko down the street.

But I believe my Dad's family has been going to Hann's Christmas Farm in Oregon for the last few years. They always have a nice big tree.
3 posted on 11/27/2006 6:32:07 PM PST by Madison Moose
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Ha! That's memories - for about 4 years we cut out own trees down. One year we had a bunch of different critters file out of it and into our living room afterwards - extra excitment at no extra price!

4 posted on 11/27/2006 6:35:01 PM PST by Sax
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To: Diana in Wisconsin; patton

we always get a live fir tree.

there was a great little farm near our place in michigan.
very small place, no extra hoopla, with awesome trees
for just $10 bucks a pop, you cut yourself, or a tad more
if you pick one already cut. i miss that place.

we'll have to find something like that this year.

no trees until after our december's the rule :)

5 posted on 11/27/2006 7:25:50 PM PST by leda (Life is always what you make it!)
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To: leda

I have 200+ acres of friggin pine trees, and you want me to BUY one?

6 posted on 11/27/2006 7:30:35 PM PST by patton (Sanctimony frequently reaps its own reward.)
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To: patton

driving 20 hrs round trip so you can chop down a freebie tree is ridiculous!

7 posted on 11/27/2006 7:32:51 PM PST by leda (Life is always what you make it!)
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To: leda

Well, not really - depends on your goals, my dear.

8 posted on 11/27/2006 7:35:01 PM PST by patton (Sanctimony frequently reaps its own reward.)
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To: patton

hmmm there's a difference between the goal of getting a tree
(ahem, the goal in this case) and taking a trip to vacation
at our cabin. silly man, you've added way too much value to
this lil adventure. ;)

9 posted on 11/27/2006 7:38:03 PM PST by leda (Life is always what you make it!)
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To: leda

Exams end 12 dec - your birthday. After that, I am up for a trip to the woods. LOL.

10 posted on 11/27/2006 7:41:35 PM PST by patton (Sanctimony frequently reaps its own reward.)
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To: patton

and when you cye you'll see lots of choices :D

11 posted on 11/27/2006 7:49:41 PM PST by leda (Life is always what you make it!)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

We usually go to Han's and cut a tree. We pick a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when our grandson will be with us, and let him (with a little guidance) decide which tree. We haven't gone yet - my grandson and husband were both recovering from cold/flu/ick last weekend, so we didn't think it'd be a good idea.

Some years, I order wreaths from the Boy Scouts and have them delivered to our relatives in other states. Missed the deadline this year, though!

12 posted on 11/28/2006 7:27:59 AM PST by knittnmom (...surrounded by reality)
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