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Good growth brings good cheer to Millstream Christmas tree farm

Ella and Ruth MacLeod preparing for the busiest time of year at a Christmas Tree Farm. Brendan Ahern / The News
Ella and Ruth MacLeod preparing for the busiest time of year at a Christmas Tree Farm. Brendan Ahern / The News - Brendan Ahern
MILLSTREAM, N.S. —

A few inches of snow, shorter days and an extra bite in the air. Winter is almost here, and with it a sense that Christmas is coming.

For Ruth MacLeod at MacLeod’s Christmas Tree Farm, that means it’s almost time to start cutting.

“Even as early as next week there will be people here,” said MacLeod taking a drive through her family-owned Millstream farm.

Throughout the property, were piles of brush awaiting transport to a barn where it was being bundled-up for anyone wanting to add some trim around their doors or deck railing.

Inside the barn MacLeod’s daughter Ella was preparing bundles of balsam or red and white pine for the Christmas wreaths which she and her Ruth will be busy making over the coming week.

In a separate lot on the 115-acre farm, some trees have already been cut down and placed on the side of the bumpy road. These trees are for export, and will be inspected for color, shape and size before being shipped south to the United States.

The 500 trees, are “peanuts” compared to some bigger Christmas tree operations which export in the thousands, but MacLeod says that she has drawn-down that side of her business.

“It’s hard to get workers,” she said. “It’s very labour intensive work and I lucked out this year with a couple of fellas who help. They were dragging trees and they’ll be standing each and every one of them up for the inspector.”

It's not just trouble finding workers that MacLeod has to contend with either. Extended periods of frost in 2018 also took its toll. After last season, MacLeod said that she's thinkful for 2019's mild spring. 

“Last year there was a lot of worry,” she said. “We had so many heavy frosts late in the season, but this year the weather was milder and we had good growth. Mother nature gave us a break and we needed it after last year.”

With the start of the farm’s U-pick season starting, MacLeod has also been busy running back and forth from Millstream into town.

“I might have to go off to New Glasgow and pick up parts for a saw or the bailer,” she said. “I’m up at 6:30 a.m. and ready to go out the door by 8 a.m.”

She’s also been busy picking up supplies for hot chocolate, cider and gingerbread for the people who come to the farm.

“I’ve had a friend that’s been helping for the last couple of years now,” said MacLeod “It’s gotten pretty big and sometimes you just need to ask a friend for help.”

The MacLeod’s Christmas Tree Farm will have its first U-Pick day of the season on the last weekend in November.

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