Come the Fourth of July, Bob Moore starts shaping the Douglas, Noble, Nordmann and other Christmas fir trees at the Double Four Tree Farm between Tacoma and Puyallup.
In a month or so he’ll start planting a crop due to mature in seven years.
This weekend, however, comes the best part of his job. That’s when the people arrive, the families, the couples, the people who never went artificial and still demand a real tree.
“I like it because it’s my opportunity to visit with people,” Moore said recently.
“When I was a log scaler, I would talk with truck drivers. I’m kind of a people person. Here, everybody’s happy. They’re here because it’s a fun family experience.”
And he’s happy too, with one exception.
The choose-and-cut experience means you will cut with a handsaw, or else one of the high school students Moore seasonally hires will cut, with a handsaw.
“No chain saws,” Moore says. If he sees someone with a chain saw, well, “That’s the only time I’m ever a bad guy.”
At the family-owned Double Four Farm, Moore offers a community fire pit, free coffee and hot cider, plus a gift shop where, among other items, customers can buy hot dogs, jellies and special stands to support their trees.
“Each farm offers something different,” he says. “In Rochester there’s Clydesdales and a wagon, in Maple Valley there’s a train, in Olympia there’s a farm with a kind of petting zoo, with sheep, chickens and geese.”
Moore has pheasants – he incubates and raises the birds – and some wild turkeys, and he touts his flat ground and grass, not mud, between the rows of trees.
At most tree farms, he said, customers can have the experience “of walking in a forest inside the city.”
Some families, he said, bring picnic lunches and make tree-buying into a true outing.
The first planting at Double Four Farm came in 1981, with the first sale in 1984, Moore said. He counts 25,000 trees in the ground on 24.5 acres, and he expects to sell some 3,000 trees this year.
He has already sold some 800 preselect trees, which customers have chosen – and sometimes decorated – with the intention to cut and retrieve within the next few weeks.
Moore also operates a 7.5-acre farm near Covington, where he harvests trees for sale at the Double Four Farm.
He’s the treasurer of the Puget Sound Christmas Tree Association (pscta.org), which has members from throughout the Puget Sound region.
The Double Four Farm is at 4217 72nd St. E. Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends, noon-4 p.m. on weekdays (except Mondays). The farm will close on Dec. 16.
And the farm is also open to special guests during some weekday mornings. That’s when the preschools visit, when the children come to romp.
“We count the rings on the trees. I’ve got cocoa and candy canes,” Moore said. “We have fun with it.”
And during regular hours, don’t expect him to be cutting trees, driving the wagons or wrapping the trees in netting for the trip home. That’s for the high school kids.
He’ll be the one standing by the fire pit with a smile on his face.
“My job is to stand here and visit with people,” he said.
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535