Not only can local familes pick out the Christmas tree they want and cut it down themselves, they can find happy animals to bring a smile at Thompson’s Choose and Cut Christmas Tree Ranch, 207 Animas Road, in Aromas.
Oh, and you can take your lunch there and stay awhile.
Ten acres of blue spruce, Douglas fir, Monterey pine and Scotch pine are available in all sizes, to cut down until the ranch closes on Christmas Eve.
Customers can follow a trail that will take them to the trees, that is, if you can tear yourself away from Twix the llama or Patch the alpaca or a number of goats, Barbados sheep, chickens, emus, white peacocks, two old large tortoises, and other critters.
And the fun is, you can purchase a full bowl of feed for $1 and feed the goats that are waiting for little folks to step to their pen. The goats, llama and alpaca get pretty rowdy when a little person walks up with food. They are friendly fellows, who might even try to give you a kiss.
Noisy Banty chickens and other types, clamor for whatever is dropped on the ground.
The 4-year-old emus match their abundant friendliness with their large size. Not only are they big, they lay gigantic blue/green eggs that are available for purchase.
There is a lot to learn on the ranch. Take for example; did you know male Emus sit on the eggs? And the noise the male makes is a hum sound, and the female makes a drum sound?
Mark Thompson has sold Christmas trees on the property for 20 years, following the Johansen family that owned the tree ranch 20 years prior.
“We have four generations of families coming here to get trees,” Thompson said.
Chris, Thompson’s son-in-law, comes down from his home and job in San Francisco during the season to help out. Chris said they plant new trees each year. For a four-foot tree, it takes six years to reach cutting stage, with Monterey Pine demonstrating the fastest growth.
There are around 200 trees cut down every year, he said.
Saws are sharpened and ready for customers to cut down their Christmas tree and while there, give a hearty hello to the critters, which will welcome you with open claws, paws, and hoofs.
Christmas trees in Hollister
Another favorite cut-your-own Christmas tree option in San Benito County is Bourdet's Christmas Tree Farm on 1271 Las Viboras Road in the north county area.
Acres of pre-cut trees are available or guests can cut their own. Santa is frequently on-site guest available for photos and a cup of hot cider can cut the chill.
Bourdet's is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Santa visits on weekends 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call (831) 636-1971.