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Monday 19 December 2016

Christmas Tree Farm Visit 2016

Can you believe that Christmas is less than a week away? Eek!

We've been getting into the Christmas spirit little by little this year. I had planned to have a super festive month in the lead up to the big day, but with Ava being so sick (a week of croup followed by a week of pneumonia) and all the running around that comes with this time of year, things haven't been as festive as I would have liked. But we do have a Christmas tree so that's a great start, right?

This year we visited a Christmas tree farm and cut down our own tree. We had to put it off a few times due to heavy rain and Ava being unwell, but we finally got there last Sunday. In the past we've headed north to Sebastapol to visit a Christmas tree farm, but this year we decided to stay local to the East Bay and visited Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm just a half hour drive south of Berkeley.

It was pretty chilly when we visited the Christmas tree farm and with Ava recovering from pneumonia we didn't want to spend a lot of time outside. Luckily Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm is just a Christmas tree farm. No bounce houses, no petting zoos, no train rides, no nothing else to keep us outside in the cold for hours. Just rows and rows of beautiful Christmas trees for us to choose from. It was perfect! I'm not a fan of all that extra stuff that often comes with Christmas tree farms and pumpkin patches, so this Christmas tree farm was just what I was looking for.

This Christmas tree farm was a little different to the one that we have visited in the past (which you can see here and here), where the staff do pretty much everything for you other than cut down the tree. Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm is very much self service. Customers drive into the tree farm and check out the various lots filled with trees until they find a good spot, cut down their tree with the provided saw, strap it to the roof of the car with the provided twine, and then pay on the way out. And hand back the saw, of course! 

We drove the length of the tree farm to check out all of the different lots before settling on a good spot. Right away Ava chose a tree that she decided was perfect. Lola and Mathilde were keen to have a little more of a look around but ultimately we ended up going with the tree that Ava had chosen right at the start. The trees were pretty much all perfect so choosing one over the other wasn't easy. Much easier to just go with the tree that Ava had her heart set on!

Ava and Lola took it in turns cutting the tree down with the saw, but ended up needing Kim to do most of the work for them.

While the big girls cut down the tree with Kim, Mathilde set about hitting a tree stump with a stick! Toddler work!

Once our tree was cut down there were a few branches quite low that we needed to remove to ensure that there would be enough bare trunk to go in the tree holder, so Ava sawed these off while Kim held the tree. This was much easier work for her than trying to cut the tree down in the first place!

Kim then carried our tree back to our Zipcar while the girls "helped". 

While Kim dealt with tying the tree onto the roof of the car, the girls and I headed back among the trees for some photos in the beautiful surrounds. It was pretty cold and we could all see our own breath. Lola was keen for me to take a picture of her frosty breath, but as you can see it was pretty hard to capture.

The girls were a little worried about Kim tying the tree to the roof of the car himself so they were pretty excited to see when it was all done. Ava and Lola made sure to inspect his knots - not that they're knot experts at all!

It was pretty muddy among the trees so the girls sat in the back of the car to change out of their boots and then climbed over the seats to avoid touching the ground again. They'd take any excuse to climb over the car seats really!

With the tree firmly secured to the roof and the kids buckled in we headed out of the farm (stopping to pay and drop off the saw) and made our way back home. This tree farm doesn't have a tree shaker to remove all of the bugs, spider and loose needles like the farm we've been to in the past, but half an hour on the freeway essentially did the same thing. By the time we got home the cobwebs that had been on the tree when we cut it were all gone, and we were just left with our perfect Christmas tree.

Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm is located on Redwood Road just north of Castro Valley. The farm is open during the Christmas season Fridays through Sundays from 9am to 5pm. I just read that it has closed this year as of this weekend, however it's a great place to keep in mind for next Christmas.

Do you visit a Christmas tree farm to cut your own tree? This was our third time visiting a tree farm (and Mathilde's first) and the girls loved it. The past two years we've been away over Christmas, but still wanted a small tree at home for our return (Santa has to leave gifts somewhere, right?) so we purchased a pre-cut tree from a lot down the road from our building. Going to a tree farm and cutting a tree down is so much more special. It's definitely the stuff memories are made of.

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