Trials and Tribulations of a Texas Christmas Tree Farmer


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December 13, 2004

A brazen thief stole an estimated $50 from our outside food area honor soft drink money container.  Customers put money into the container for soft drinks taken out of the soft drink cooler.  This theft occurred between 3:30 PM and 4:30 PM on Saturday, November 27, and with other customers, Marge and I in the area.  This thief is also believed to have eaten one or more of our free hot dogs, chips and baked beans .  

This is the first major theft of money from our honor based sales in ten years or since inception.  Security measures were implemented immediately after the theft and will continue into the future since we do have one customer who is a thief.

I find it interesting to note that we have one customer in ten years ( one in 30,000 people who paid using this honor system ) who felt they desperately needed $50 and the free food more than us.  I am sure the thief and his family was not starving since we had plenty of free hot dogs with the fixin's available next to the soft drinks.  

I suspect this customer will eventually end up at the other area Huntsville attraction (the prisons) since I am a believer of each determines his own future.  I just hope who ever it was does not have children who witnessed this and other thefts.  As a word of warning to all churches, someone who steals from a Christmas tree farm in this manner will probably take your collection too!  

We are at the end of our selling season.  We do thank all of our customers who made it to the farm and especially those who came up in the rain last Sunday.  This is what I call dedication.   As you probably see from our front page breaking news, we will put the chain across the bridge and lock it at 2:00 PM promptly according to my watch.  Absolutely no late comers will allowed in.  

We do refer to this last day as our procrastinator's day.  We have no hay ride, no food, no drink and if you want a clean tree you clean it yourself.  I suspect if we were open on Christmas Eve, we would get these same few customers.  Since Marge and I are tired from a very busy and hectic season, we always make a management decision to close on this weekend.  For those who see the chain locked and still needing a tree, I would suggest the retail lots in Huntsville and Livingston or in a major city near to your home.  Hopefully, the retail lots will still be open.  

November 15, 2004

The beavers are back!  This time they are building the dam downstream of our entrance bridge and not upstream.  As you may recall, last around this time they built the dam upstream of the bridge.  It was a very fine dam but could not withstand a January gully washer.  Well, it broke and the debris caught on the bridge pilings and directed the water against the sidewalls.  With this pressure, a side wall broke.  It was repairable after filling 32 sandbags with sand!  I t brought back memories of my two years as a combat engineer!

If anyone wants to see a beaver dam, let us know.  We can give you directions and is easy to find.  It is near to the exit road from the farm and close to the exit bridge.  

I am sure a few of you are wondering why no "Internet Trees" are available this year.   As you probably know from reading previous journals, I try to do everything I can but do not consider myself an expert in all I take on.  This includes working with this computer.  For some reason unknown, I can not get my pictures from the camera saved as a JPEG file  on this computer to show up in my web site software.  It worked perfectly a month or two ago.  Interestingly, I can upload these pictures to the server and they show up perfectly!  Since you all will be arriving at the farm in a week or so and Marge and I have a lot of last minute tasks to do, I made the "management" decision of no internet trees this year!

Speaking of computers, we are still using our 20 year old Commodore 128 for our customer lists and accounting.  It never freezes or looses information.  The problem we have is that the monitor is also 20 years old and starting to show its age.  If you have sitting in the garage a very old monitor with spots for three our four cords, let me know.   

As I suspect all of you with children know, it is time to come out and cut your family Christmas tree.  The trees are ready and look great.  Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and no rain on the weekends.  

October 1, 2004

We completed the second shearing of the trees.  With all the rain, the Christmas trees look great.  We are in the process of getting everything ready for the October Outing and Choose and Cut.   We do keep a diary from year to year of what needs to be done.  It is amazing how many things you will miss if you go from memory.  Some of it may be important like enough toilet paper for the toilets!

I have done some reading on mazes and have found it quite interesting.  They date back to the dark ages and are actually called labyrinths.  Some people even claim that they have mystical powers.  I am sure the word maze became popular since the word labyrinth is a tongue twister and very difficult to spell.  My spell check on this html software does not even have it.   

We have added two more mazes in addition to the grassland maze at the back hill.  Unlike the grassland maze, these do not have any dead ends.  One is a spiral maze and the other is a mosaic maze.  Do let me know if you experience any mystical powers while walking these mazes.  Jumping ten feet in the air if you happen to come across a snake does not count!

We have also added a few more faces, a quick sand pit, door to infinity and also a moss man on the Spooky Hollow Trail.  Who knows, you may even see Big Foot when walking this trail!  

For the older children, like adults, we have extended the trail to the back of the farm so you can see some very scenic areas.  Hopefully, I will have bench or two made so you can just sit, relax and enjoy the sounds of the forest and the beauty of the spots.   One spot will be by a clay rapids and the other by a very old dam.

As you can probably guess if you are a faithful reader of the newsletter, we start something and then build upon it.  In our travels we come across simple and cheap attractions  that others have put in and appear to be the type enjoyed by children.  By have a variety of trails at the farm and eighty acres of land, we try to put a few of them into place each year.  If you have any ideas, do let us know!

Now for the bad news.  We still do not have insurance coverage on the Adventure Crossing!  I am sure this will missed by the older children.  If you have any ideas of simple attractions which will be enjoyed by the 10-14 year old age group and is not a "mechanical device", do let me know.   

July 11, 2004

We have just completed our Spring shearing of the trees.  With all of the rain, they look beautiful.  The only problem is that the grass in the fields is already up to our knees.  We are unable to get into the fields to mow because of all the rain still held in the soil.  On our farm, this means we have seeps or springs on the hill side.  If we happen to take the tractor over these seeps and break the crust, we will with a few spins of the tires be up to the tractor axel in mud!  

The advantage of all this rain is that our back hill is loaded with yellow daisy flowers.  When the normal summer heat and drought occurs, these flowers will go to seed.  At this point, we will mow and allow the seed to drop onto the earth for next years flowers.  Because of this beauty which rivals the bluebonnets of the Hill Country, we have been thinking about how to let our customers experience this spring and early summer beauty.  The problem is that if we get a dry spring, all we have on the back hill is grass and weeds!

Well, our twenty year old 128 Commodore computer monitor is sick.  Actually, the computer is great but the soddering in the monitor is cracking.  We did take it to the repair shop and had the soddering re-done.  The repair shop did warn us that we should start to make plans to upgrade to a new computer.  (These old monitors are not made anymore and the new ones do not work!).  

Why is this ancient 128 Commodore important?  Well, this is our computer for accounting and keeping tract of our customers.  Yes, this computer can tell us if you have been buying trees from us since we started selling in 1984 at the Northwest Houston retail lot.  It is reliable and more importantly, Marge loves using it.  We have never gotten the "blue screen of death" or even an error message on it!  It has never been repaired.  

In anticipation of the Commodore's demise, I am in the process of upgrading my new or only ten year old  Compaq computer to Windows 98 from Windows 95.   This is in case I need to find some accounting software real quick.   Well, I am on the verge of calling Bill Gates and suggesting that in the six years this Windows 98 software has been out, they obviously missed a lot of problems!  I would revert back to Windows 95 but as you probably can guess, no instructions can be found!   So, I am forced to live with the intermittent "fatal error messages" until I can find out through trial and error where the problem is.  

Oh yes, if anyone has an old working Commodore video monitor (1902a) stuck in the corner, let us know!  We will travel nearly anywhere to get it!