There's no denying the fact that 2020 is a game changer with regard to how we do things in our daily lives. There's no exception when it comes to how you cut your own Christmas tree. This year, we decided to avoid the crowds (and people) and venture into the wilderness to harvest our own tree.
Nature's Tree Farm
The decision to avoid the crowds at tree lots with their gift shops, apple cider, and wagon rides is actually easier than ever. I've always LOVED going to a tree farm where you can cut your own trees – where they even have pre-cut trees in tree stands, as there was at least a little ownership in the task of bringing home the glorious tree.
This year, though, with all the risks, we chose to head out into nature to find our tree alone. Christmas tree farming is great, but I'm looking for more than the farm offers now that I have the self-confidence to harvest for myself. This is how we did it.
Pack the Hot Chocolate
It is almost a prerequisite to start your Christmas tree hunt with a cup of hot chocolate. Chelsea got this all packed up in our camping lunch bag, complete with mugs and a JetBoil for warm water on-site.
Christmas Tree Paperwork
Before the hot chocolate, though, pick up a Christmas tree permit for $10 from the National Forest Service Office! If you want to cut your own Christmas tree, the NFS or BLM offices are a great place to start. We even got an extra discount with the 4th Grade “Every Kid Outdoors” National Park Pass. With paperwork in hand, we were off.
As we drove deeper into the mountains, we found a nice area with plenty of trees fitting our needs, within the permit guidelines. We were on the hunt for one that was a certain distance away from a stream per our paperwork, and under 12 feet per the requirements.
That's when we headed out all bundled up and on foot. Chelsea and the boys worked eagerly together to find the very best tree.
There's no Skipping Safety
There's no question as to my LOVE of STIHL chainsaws and other equipment. They've been a long-time partner of ours, and we truly adore them as they've been part of our heritage traditions for generations. There's also no question when it comes to what I've learned about STIHL's own love of safety and the appropriate gear!
I recently picked up a new STIHL MS 251 Wood Boss chainsaw, which is one of the many STIHL products made right here in the USA, for smaller cutting projects, as well as another ‘off-roading truck' project I'm working on. I chose to use this saw for harvesting our Christmas tree.
New saw or not, I obviously made sure to use the same protective equipment always recommended by STIHL: gloves, safety glasses, boots, chainsaw chaps, and my face-shield/ear-protection/helmet combo.
I actually just keep most of it in a small box in the back of my truck all the time, so I never forget them.
Sometimes you have to Climb to Fell
Of course, the best tree found by Chelsea and the boys just HAD to be over 100 yards up the side of a snowy hill. New American made Wood Boss in hand, I clambered up to our soon-to-be tree and found a good place to stand off to the side.
When it comes to going into the wild to cut your own Christmas tree, it's a much different experience than what the farm offers. I powered up my saw, let it warm up a bit, and quickly brought down our new 7′ tree.
Ahhh, the smell of freshly cut pine.
Success Doesn't Mean the End
The best part of getting to cut your own Christmas tree in the forest is similar to that of hunting. It's a sense of pride and ownership of knowing where your resources come from and – in turn – what they're worth. There's a conscious value in the effort of searching and gathering on your own. Also, if you ever find yourself looking for the best tools or chainsaw on the market, the STIHL Wood Boss is the perfect saw. AND, because it's made right here in America, it also helps support American manufacturing.
Since it's nature, YOU have to bring the tree to your car on your own. The good thing is that most Douglas Firs or Fraser Firs are cut small enough for Christmas to easily drag or even carry.
Cut your own Christmas Tree, Bring your own Gear
When it comes to nature, the farm is open but you have to bring your own tools. I always keep a STIHL hatchet and STIHL forestry axe in the back of my truck. When it comes to my chainsaws, I learned a few years back that it's best to use STIHL's MotoMix as it's good for two years and is best for winters and seasonal storage.
If you're going out into the woods or forest, I recommend picking up a STIHL MS 251 Wood Boss as it's probably the best well-rounded saw for home cutting, trail cutting, and what you would want to cut your own Christmas tree with ease.
The Finishing Touch
After you get your tree home, you'll want to cut about an inch off the bottom of the trunk just before putting it into the tree stand. This is to allow the freshest (and most moist) part of the tree trunk to still soak up water via osmosis. This will help keep the tree greener longer.
To ensure a good fit and even appearance, use a pair of clippers to snip off the small branches that might get in the way. You will also want to do this to give the tree about 12 inches of clearance. You know, for presents! We use our household STIHL clippers.
Decorate like No One is Watching
The great thing about getting our Christmas tree permit is that our tree is unique. You can actually get up to three tree permits to cut your own Christmas tree (or trees). We decided to put this fat, round tree just outside our door for the whole neighborhood to see.
There's a chance we will head out again a bit closer to Christmas to get the one Santa will use – if we pull our skinny fake thing in the corner of the living room down – but for now, we're using this tree to spread our Christmas cheer to the neighbors. From a distance, that is.
Would you ever cut your own Christmas tree?