I admire all of you who own and operate “choose and harvest” tree farms. The art of producing quality trees and the skill required in marketing that product requires a box filled with varied and unique tools. At this point in our journey we have acquired a nice stash of tools but perhaps like you, we began with nothing but our work ethic and budding optimism.
The year was 2002 when our lives were transformed by a single piece of paper resting in a tube under a mailbox. The information on the paper was about the property for sale at the end of the 100-yard driveway hidden back away from the road. My husband Bob, was scouring the countryside near his high school for something that would end his commute from our suburban home twenty minutes away. Never mind the fact that I wasn’t looking for a move or the fact I actually enjoyed city/suburban living just fine. Whatever my husband saw through his baby blues that afternoon would become headline news between him and our 15 year old son Nick and would soon be revealed to me.
Before I get too far into the story you must know in 2002 my husband was a very busy teacher/high school wrestling coach in a different school district. Our son Nick, a soon-to-be high school wrestler would have to compete against his dad’s team, if we didn’t relocate. After a few unsuccessful attempts to sell our house and living in the “what if we move” scenario for a year, we decided to stay put. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I wouldn’t have to plan, prepare and execute a move from our home and community of 16 years. But, then the phone call came.
What is the reason a husband might use his son to pitch the idea of considering this new found property? Because Bob already knew we had come to a joint decision on the matter, and chose to implement his son’s excellent persuasive tactics . . . and he understood his wife had never lived outside of any city limits. In my former career I was wearing heels, hose and headed to the top. My son explained where he and his father had been- he said, “rolling hills”, lovely home tucked away” and then mentioned some foreign words . . . “Christmas Tree Farm”. Little did I know this phone call would become part of a week long process to entertain the idea of moving to a property with an established Christmas tree farm.
Both of my men had already fallen in love with the property and I was courted with vigor! “Yes, they both realized the house on the property was smaller than our present home and I would want to redecorate every room . . . but would I just take a look with them?” Our oldest Keli had just graduated from college and was newly married and our youngest Mikaela was nine years old. Everyone went along to see what the excitement was all about. The boys were right, the property was stunning. Twenty acres of rolling hills filled with Christmas trees. The home was nestled in the far western end of the property upon a gradual hill that overlooked a tree surrounded pond, complete with a fishing dock and a couple of weeping willows blowing gently in the summer breeze. The beauty of Fort Osage Christmas swept us all off our feet.
There are two kinds of people in the world. You have those awesome folks who must know the answers to all the questions before they make a decision. They play out all the possibilities and weigh matters on scales of conservatism. The others listen to their hearts and make decisions based on their level of commitment to succeed. We are of the latter group and that is how we made our decision. I do remember saying to my husband before we signed the papers. “We don’t know anything about Christmas tree farming.”
He said, “We don’t know anything about farming period, but we can learn.”
Before the former owners left the state, Bob and Nick would be given a few crash courses. They spent a couple of days learning the art of pruning and shearing. They were shown how to shake and bale a tree and the process of “how to plant seedlings” was explained. We moved in August and I was preoccupied with turning our house into a home, only to be sidetracked by the staggering number of God’s creatures I never knew on a personal level. Creepy, crawling, flying, swimming, and stalking, I would become indoctrinated by homesteaders of a different kind. I imagined a flying reptile swooping down over the pond every time I heard a prehistoric screech that would bring me to the window, but I could never catch a glimpse. The mystery only deepened that early autumn before I would be meeting many of my new “neighbors” face to face. I wasn’t sure if I was more intimidated by our new wild kingdom or the looming “first selling season” to come. What exactly am I supposed to do and how exactly does this work? We would learn soon enough.
Like aliens from an unknown world stepping out of their flyer saucer that is how we ended up at Fort Osage Christmas. Two people who had super-sized careers, no farming know-how, no country living experience and a thick layer of naïveté that kept most of the red flags from getting in the way. Everything that transpired since has filled our lives with incredible challenges, and even some failures on the road called progress. If the school of hard knocks gave out diplomas, I’m sure we’ve earned one or two. But the journey has mostly been exciting and productive with enough victories to keep us committed. Providing that perfect tree for families at Christmas time has its own kind of magic that would become like a salve for our entrepreneurial battle wounds.
The Christmas Tree Magazine~Volume 42, No.3
The World’s Leading Magazine for Christmas Tree Growers
Kim and her husband Bob operate Ft. Osage Christmas in Independence MO. Kim is the author of a mystery series Circle of Sun. “I hope your sofa has a seat belt!” www.facebook.com/circleofsun/ OR www.kimlukeauthor.com