NISQUALLY - Nebraska native Renee Wegworth had never been to a U-cut Christmas tree farm before, so with her two sons in tow, the family traveled Saturday from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to the Schilter Family Farm in Nisqually.
There, they joined other families who were looking to cut down a Noble, Fraser, grand or Douglas fir tree for the holidays.
One reason Renee wanted to get a U-cut tree this year is to make Christmas a little more special for her husband. He returns from Afghanistan this month to spend two weeks with the family before returning for another stint overseas, she said. With input from her 3-year-old son, Hunter, the Wegworth family decided on a $25 Douglas fir.
The tree farm takes up 40 acres on the Schilter family’s 180-acre farm and is off to a busy start, co-owner Jeff Schilter said. The farm sold about 200 trees Friday, 10 percent more than on the same Friday last year, and Saturday had been “nice and steady,” he said.
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The farm is 70 years old; it was a dairy farm until the Schilter family switched to selling trees in 1999, Schilter said. One reason for the switch was that the farm’s visibility from Interstate 5 makes it easy to sell directly to the public, he said.
The farm also is known for growing corn and pumpkins.
Visitors arrived in trucks and SUVs. They picked up a handsaw, then selected a tree and cut it down. Staffers hauled the trees back to the entrance area, where they were cut or trimmed for the Christmas tree stand, had loose needles shaken off and then were wrapped in netting for the trip home.
Prices at the farm range from $25 for a Douglas fir of any size to about $82 for a 10- to 11-foot Noble fir, according to a price list.
The farm also has a gift shop, a Nativity scene set up in a historic barn at the farm, and an area where trees can be flocked, giving them a snow-covered appearance.
Jose Marmolejo and Valerie Schade of Lakewood cut down their tree in about three minutes, while daughter Ofelia was having fun making her own little pile of tree branches. Marmolejo said traveling to the farm for the second consecutive year makes it “more of a family experience.”