It is an absolutely beautiful day as I drive towards the all too familiar woodlot. I have spent a few camping trips and tree donations at this place. Welcome to the Walden Woodlot Christmas Tree lot!
As I pull in I am met by three smiling children chasing a little puppy.
I spend a few minutes catching up with my old boss and his family. Thom, who has helped with a few outdoor classrooms, Marcus’ brother, pulls in with the bailer. I assume now that he has arrived we will get into it, but working under Marcus for almost two years, I should have known better.
20 minutes later, after hauling trees, we start.
We go and sit down at the benches set up by the stream at their woodlot. I ask Thom when they purchased the woodlot.
“We inherited the woodlot and all the equipment from our grandfather and father.”
“We inherited it when I was about 23 years old and we also have 50% of our uncles land” Marcus explains.
I ask how long they have been working at the woodlot.
“Since we were probably 10” Thom answers. “We would drag trees and help bail.”
“He sold about 30,000 and we helped drag and bail them all in 6 weeks” Marcus adds. “It’s about from Halloween to December 15th.”
I can’t imagine how much physical labor this would take, I only drug two trees today and I am exhausted. I ask how many trees they are doing now.
“We did about 1200 trees this year that were sold in the US retail market.” Marcus says.
As someone who doesn’t know much about anything to do with Christmas trees except for decorating them, I ask what the process is.
“Well, we sheer in April, fertilize in May, sheer again in July, tag in November, and harvest and bail in December” Marcus says.
This seems like a lot of work especially just for two people so I ask if they get any help.
“Kate helps us and we had our Mum for three days as well” Marcus answers.
I turn to the boys to ask my favorite question; how do you guys like working together?
“Good.” Thom answers straight up. I chuckle.
“He’s the brains of the operations.” He adds laughing with a smirk that is fitting to Zwicker.
We take a break to laugh as the three kids run across the stream to have stick battles on the other side.
I yell across the stream to ask Marcus and Kate’s three kids their favorite part of being at the woodlot.
“FREEDOM!” Mason yells back.
“We get to play” answers Lucy.
Harrison, their three year old, answers “Playing.”
I turn to the parents and ask their favorite part of the woodlot.
“I like learning and connecting with nature” Kate says “ Annnnd the kids are always really tired when we get home. It’s baths and bed with no complaints.”
“I like that I get to spend time with family” Marcus replies. “Thom’s has four kids and they all get to play and spend time together unencumbered. Also I like to be outside.”
I turn to Thom.
“I like being up here in the peace and quite and the when I have the kids they get good healthy play” He replies smiling. “And I really like the winey roasts.”
I ask Mason if he would like to work on the woodlot when he gets older.
“Yes! It could be my full time job” He answers a little too much like his father.
Today was a beautiful day of catching up with old friends. Thank you to the Zwicker’s for always welcoming me, lending a hand when needed, and for bringing me a beer!
For more information on the Walden Woodlot please check this out!
It has been a great year of forestry families. We have met so many different individuals and families all from different backgrounds. It seemed fitting to me to add a thirteenth forestry family with the man who came up with the idea in the first place. Thank you to Marcus for giving me the opportunity to meet some of the hardest working, passionate, and caring people that our province has to offer. I hope you take this time to read all of the past families and really get to understand the kind hearted people who are behind the harvests. It is not just a job to many, it is a lifestyle.
Thank you for a great year, here’s to an even better one. Happy New Year!