Signs of the season: I’ve seen the first Christmas tree truck of winter, taking a load of freshly cut trees to be sent on their way. A lot of Christmas trees are grown in my area. Cutting starts about now and usually ends the day before Thanksgiving, though last year there was some activity into early December.
The local Christmas tree industry was developed by a neighbor of mine, Hal Schudel, who developed sustainable, low-impact Christmas tree farming long before these buzzwords were popular. He introduced helicopter logging in 1955, so that Christmas trees grown on steep hillsides could be cut by hand and hoisted out by air, with no need for roads or heavy machinery — and hence no erosion. He also knew a superior tree when he saw one, introducing the Noble Fir (which makes a much better Christmas tree than the local Douglas Fir). Hal’s company, Holiday Tree Farm, has an interesting Web page.
I like having a self-made millionaire as a neighbor and role model.
Not that Hal’s the only one. My property borders on Starker Forests on two sides. As with Hal Schudel, T. J. Starker was into reforestation and sustainable yield long before these concepts caught the public eye. Both men were professors at OSU, too.
Starker has a good-neighbor policy which must be experienced to be believed. It’s not just a matter of, “Sure, take some of the downed wood for firewood, what the heck.” It’s more like, “We’ll unlock the gate for you and show you where the good stuff is. When’s a good time?”
One of the things I like about living here is the quality of our neighbors. They couldn’t be better. The only thing I would change is that the Christmas tree truck drivers could slow down a little. 40 MPH is pretty fast for a wet and twisty gravel road.