The narrow gravel road up to the Mountain View Tree Farm had water filling the ruts after Saturday’s rain, but Sunday dawned clear, if a bit cold, and the would-be lumberjacks had to pull to the side to pass without getting stuck.
The tree farm was well populated with customers wielding bow saws as they brought down their trees for the holidays. Owner Frank Hines said customers are not permitted to use chainsaws on the property. He provides sharp hand saws, which will do the job nearly as fast and aren’t nearly as dangerous.
“This is a lovely day, and we don’t want to take a chance of spoiling it with a tragedy,” he said.
Hines is retired from his job at a cement plant, and his wife, Marge, works as a customer service representative at Simulaids.
Trees sell for a flat $45 apiece, regardless of size. “We used to charge more for larger trees, and less for smaller ones,” Hines said. “We found that we always had a lot of our bigger trees left over, so we decided to charge one price for all our trees. We’re getting a better balance of sales.”
“We’re selling a new tree – a concolor fir,” said Hines. “It’s like a Scotch pine, but with softer needles.”
Cutting their own tree is a family outing, said Caitlin Wood, who was at the tree farm with her husband John and children Tyler and John. “My family always cuts our own tree. It’s better than buying one; they’re fresh and they last longer.”
Many people switch over to simple, reusable artificial trees after their children are grown. Not Keith and June Ruckh of Palenville. “Our grandkids will be coming over,” said Keith.
Mark and Linda Imhoff of Palenville said they’ve been cutting their trees at the Hines’s for the past four or five years. “They’re very nice, the price is right and the trees are beautiful,” Mark said. “We used to have our daughters with us. They would pick the trees.” Now that they’re grown, the Imhoffs pick the trees.
“People keep coming back to cut their trees, and it becomes a family tradition,” Frank Hines said.
Michael Courtney and Jennifer Triplett started coming to Mountain View two years ago, just after their daughter, Charlotte, was born. “We didn’t make it last year,” Michael Courtney said. “We really made the effort to get here this year. Charlotte loves the trees, and she gets to know that these trees really grow; they’re not just something you get at the store. I have cut my own tree a few times, but with moving to Saugerties and having our own home, it will more likely be a regular thing. Charlotte loves it; she loves to run in and out between the trees.”
A tree farm is not a profitable investment, Frank Hines said. “It’s a labor of love, and if I cover all my expenses it’s worth it.”
“It’s great to talk to people without the hustle and bustle,” added Marge Hines.
The farm is at the end of Spurck Rd., an unpaved gravel lane off Kelly Road on the far north side of town. The road name is not apparent, but there’s a big sign for Christmas trees at the intersection. Or call (845) 389-1973 for directions and to be sure they’re open. The Hines plan to be open weekends through Dec. 24.