Like some sort of crazed elf I got my not-so-perfect icicle lights up the day after Thanksgiving. In turn I like to put up the Christmas tree on December 1st to coincide with the commencement of the advent calendar. This way I can eek out every single moment of the Christmas season, but after last year’s Yuletide adventure, and our recent below freezing temperatures, I didn’t want to go out into the forest if there was even the slightest chance of it getting dark.
Luckily, the boys had early release from school today, which meant we could finally go out and get some Holiday cheer. I informed both of them to be ready to jet home after school so we could have a snack and get out there.
“After some Mac & cheese then can we go?” Nick pleaded.
“We’re starving,” Henry added. Awesomez (pronounced Awesome – EZ) and I agreed since I had a bunch of winter chores like putting a de-icer in the cow trough and moving the goat and sheep water trough to the Kubota barn where I could plug in a de-icer for them while they’re out during the day.
By the time we got back, Henry was ready to go, but Nick had slipped into a deep, deep sleep on the sofa in the family room. And as hard as we prodded there was no budging Nick.
We couldn't wait for Nick to get up we'd lose our daylight. Henry fired up the tractor, Awesomez had Irish and I had my limb saw in hand. iWe set out with all the dogs. First we went to the pond to assess the ice. When we arrived we found the geese frolicking in the bit of water that was still liquid. Stopping to watch them for a while, Henry threw rocks out to see how thick the ice was. Surprisingly it was able to withstand some hard throws and some big rocks.
Worrying about the time, we pushed on going slowly so we could look discriminatingly at different types of conifers We checked out firs, pines, hemlocks and cedars. Rejecting many we finally settled on a possibility. A very tall tree so tall Awesomez was shocked.
“Really? That one? It won’t even fit in your house,” she implored.
“Well, you see if you look at it, you have to cut it. Right there. Otherwise it isn’t very full,” I explained pointing at the tree.
“Where did all the dogs go?” Henry worried. “You never know where Karen is, I’m going to go look for them,” he told us as he hopped off the tractor. We followed reflexively. I didn’t like him alone in the forest. It’s that one time you don’t worry that you should have. So I worry all the time.
“Karen’s the cougar,” I explained and she nodded.
Henry had run a head and was returning with Vivian, Luther and Bruno by the time we got to the top of the hill.
“What about this one?” Awesome-ez wondered pointing to a really great tree.
“Awwwwe that’s perfect!” Henry exclaimed. “Let’s get this one!”
“Sounds good to me,” I agreed, “It’s close to the path and it should fit pretty well in the bucket. You know, it’s about the right size for the game room as is.” I marveled. “Good eye! Lis Let’s get it down.” I said walking up and putting my saw into action. In just a moment it was down. In another it was in the bucket and we were in theory on our way.
“I can’t see over the tree.” Henry lamented.
“We can hold a stick up in front of you and you can just guide the tractor toward the stick.” Awesome-ez suggested.
“OK. Let’s do it.” Henry agreed readily. Although in short order it became clear that wasn’t going to work. He just couldn’t maneuver the tractor and see the stick and keep the tree balanced on the bucket. Awesom-ez offered to take over and Henry agreed giving Awesom-ez a quick refresher course about the controls and we were off once again.
Our parade moved slowly down the steep hill and past the spot that spelled disaster for us last year. Thinking back I realized I’d meant to price winches this year. I really had to get on that. It ‘s something you don’t’ think about until you need it like a flashlight, Earthquake water or insurance. The other day my dad’s friend, Chad told me just to get a hand-cranked one, but Tom informed me that despite the increased price he was a staunch supporter of the motorized version. Easy for him to say, I still didn’t have one did I?
Anyway this year’s tree was going so well it really was too good to be true. Oh I mean I wish there’d been snow for added charm, but the brisk air was plenty of ambiance and now that we’d passed the danger zone it was smooth sailing.
Henry ran ahead with Irish. He didn’t have gloves on and his hands were frozen flesh.
I hopped on the back of the tractor while Awesome-ez navigated us home. She adeptly got both ends of the tree through the narrow gate without incident. And just when I thought the adventure was over, it began.
“Mil? Didn’t you say the goats thought the pine branches that blew down during the windstorm were a delicacy?”
“Yeah,” I said casually.
“What if they go after the tree?” She said cautiously.
“Oh, I can’t imagine that,” I said with confidence
“Oh no? Then why are they running over here?” She wasn’t just whistling Dixie. They’d spied the tree and were after us like a band of highway robbers.
“Quick grab the tree!” She said grabbing one end.
“I’m trying! They’re eating it. I can’t lift it out of the bucket without breaking it.”
“Just grab it!”
“OK now run like you’ve got the football Mil. Now!” And run we did. She had the front half of the tree and I had the back with four goats running after us trying to eat the top of our new Christmas tree.
“They’re nibbling the top!” I yelled.
“Keep moving!” She yelled back without turning around. “I’ve got to get the gate in a second.”
“Hurry, they’re eating the tree, tearing off branches!” I screamed willing her cold fingers to get the latch.
“Got it! C’mon!” She instructed and I obeyed slamming the gate behind me.
I looked over at her and she was half laughing half panting. “They’re like piranha.” She wheezed.
“I can’t believe they did that. It never occurred to me we were in peril.” I said watching Christina lean over to try and munch on the tip of the tree.