I coined the acronym TWTW for last winter's weather - The Winter That Wasn't. Strangley warm weather this fall has folks doing more outdoor things in light clothes. Like yesterday, my daughter, her boyfriend and our huskies went out looking to cut down a Christmas Tree. It's been a family tradition since 1995, dating back to when we lived in Toledo, OH.
We sometimes feel like relics, still cutting down live trees, when most folks have gone to artificial ones. No question that choosing a real evergreen has its pros and cons (shedding needles, traveling to find one, etc), but we like the smell of a fresh-cut tree. And for me, real Christmas trees remind me of my youth, when my dad would always buy a real tree from a nearby store.
Yesterday afternoon, we visited a couple of local tree farms. Over the years here, we've tried multiple farms. My rankings of them hasn't changed. IMO, the best you-cut trees are found at Grady's Tree Farm near Trivoli, where we cut ours yesterday. Grady's has a great feel to it. You walk past an old barn and past a pond and then its trees for about as far as the eye can see. They have flat bed tractors cruising around to help you bring back your tree and a festive gift shop with hot cider.
It was strange to walk through the tree farms yesterday in a GLO T-shirt, no jacket required, on December 2. The Spring-like weather brought out dozens of Christmas tree shoppers to Grady's. Its was about seven years, I'd guesstimate, that we had a foot of snow dumped on us on a December 1st. Nothing like that this year. Most years we're bundled up and our hands are freezing, and we've tried a handful of tree farms around the area.
One year, We grabbed a tree from Talbotts in Green Valley, South of Pekin. It's a large tree farm, comparable to Grady's. Closer to Peoria, we've also shopped at Prairie State Tree Farm, off Charter Oak Lane in Peoria and Cinnamon Tree Farm in Brimfield, though the latter two are smaller farms with less selection. We're open to trying other places. A Google search shows tree farms in Creve Couer (Blanks Ever Green Acres) and Chillicothe (Pine Grove Farm). Any other tree farms within a short drive from Peoria?