Building Christmas Traditions, One Tree at a Time
BEAR CREEK, Wis.— Kate Walske stretched her arms as wide as she could.
The ad hoc measurements were almost spot on.
Yep, the is was the right tree for Christmas 2020.
A few minutes later Kate’s mom, Leigh, was busy cutting the base of the tree with a saw — a small bead of sweat rolling off the tip of her nose.
With a well-placed nudge, the tree tipped to the ground.
“I got a workout, and a little bit of sweat broken,” Leigh Walske said.
She and her daughters visited Balsam Creek Lane Tree Farm in Bear Creek on its opening day Friday.
“It’s just a wonderful tradition that we’ve enjoyed,” the Clintonville resident said. “Normally my husband and other daughter are with us. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be with us and we wanted to keep the tradition going.”
Months of work go into maintaining the trees and farm in preparation for opening day.
Co-owner Rhonda Schertz said there’s a mix of nervousness and excitement in the hours leading up to the opening.
“There’s just a lot to get ready before people come,” she said mid-morning Friday. “Now that they’re here and things are rocking and rolling, it feels good and that’s exciting. And it’s fun to see the repeat customers and their families this year, too.”
Rhonda owns the farm with her husband, Mike.
The couple planted the first trees in 1988 and made their first sale seven years later. Three decades later, the couple continues to operate the business in addition to their regular jobs.
“We just want people to come and enjoy the experience of cutting their own tree,” Mike Schertz said. “As a child, me and my dad would just go in the woods and get a tree, you know.”
The farm has COVID-19 protocols in place this year. Both Mike and Rhonda expect sales to be on par with past seasons.
It’s also the continuation of an annual tradition.
“We’ve seen babies grow up,” Rhonda Schertz said. “We’ve seen kids bring their kids, now. They’ve gotten married and have their own children. It is awesome to see that and it does make you feel good that they think that much of our farm to keep coming back.”