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Christmas tree farmers work all year

4:43 PM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
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We're all easing in to 2013 with the holidays behind us. But some people focus on Christmas 365 days a year.

There's really no off-season for Christmas tree farmers.

Thirty years ago, Leo Collins planted the first tree on his farm in Anderson County.

Twenty four year ago, he sold his first Christmas tree.

"The tree that goes in the ground is about two years old. And then it takes about eight years to get it to a sellable size so the tree that's bought is probably around nine or more likely ten years old," he said.

He's a botanist whose dreamed of owning a Christmas tree farm since grammer school.

Now he grows Virginia Pine, Norway Spruce, White Pine, and more.

"That's a Leyland cypress and that's probably what we sold the most of this year. And then we have the Arizona cypress which is the bluish or grayish color," he said.

Bluebird Christmas Tree Farm has grown beyond a business to become a passion.

"We always get new customers but we have a lot who come year after year. It's always good to see them. It's good to see the kids grow up," he said. "We've had a lot of folks who came here as children and now work here and now have gone on from working here and now they're bringing their kids back so we've gone through a number of generations."

The selling season in November and December is hectic. And then...

"It's a kind of decompression time," he said.

The work continues. Weed control, mowing, checking for insects and fungus.

"Every tree has to be shaped every year to make it look like a Christmas tree instead of just a pine tree in the forest," he said.

He stores directional signs, puts away the balers, and sharpens saws. Leo collins must also figure out which type of seedlings to plant next.

"That's a little tricky because you're not buying trees for next year. You're buying trees for eight, nine, ten years from now," he said.

And he has to decide where to plant them.

"You don't want to end up somehow with people pulling large trees through your little trees so you have to arrange them so that doesn't happen. And you're having to arrange a little bit for nine years from now when the little trees will be the big trees," he said.

All the planning and planting and work is worth it come fall.

"We get to share Christmas with about 700 families which makes it the best part of the whole thing," he said.

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