Out of the frying pan and into the fire

The pandemic has played a large part in how were are getting ready for our 2020 Christmas Tree season, there were a lot of changes to be made but luckily we have had months to adjust our plans. Now, with little over two months until we open in Los Angeles, the fires ripping across the West Cost have put us through the wringer.

As many people know that the West Coast of the United States has been overrun with forest fires for the last week. We have had a number of inquiries into how this is impacting our family, our farm, and our business. Thank you to all that have reached out, even when you and yours were also impacted. We are all safe and sound, and will be able to operate as planned this season. Here is a peek into what the last week has been like for us here at Santa & Sons Christmas Trees and for many people all over the West Coast.

Last Monday morning, the 7th of September, we here in Oregon were bracing ourselves for a wind storm and very high fire danger. Being fire season here in the Northwest the predicted historical wind storm headed our way was already a pretty terrifying prospect. As warnings of the wind storm began come across phones, TVs and radios, worries over their impact on the fires started to stack up. At that time a number of small fires were already in progress across our state, but that is par for the course this time of year, what impact the winds would have on them was beyond anyone’s predictions. By Monday afternoon, our homes on the edge of the coastal mountain range were surrounded by smoke with ominous orange skies and forest fires were out of control.

At that point we were well aware of fires in the area surrounding our farms, located 80 miles away to the Southeast of our home. Our main priority at that time was making sure our workers that live in the surrounding area were getting themselves, their families, and communities somewhere safe. Luckily, our crew were all able to make it out of the fire areas safely. Next came the waiting. While we were not able to reach people to get a good idea of what was happening with the fires in the area of our fields, we spent most of our time planning our next moves, and continually checking the fire maps and trying to support those that were evacuating. Farmer Mark was mainly relying on this map, https://data.statesmanjournal.com/fires/ as well as any first hand information he was able to get. With so many forms of communication these days, it was tricky to wade though rumors and wait patiently for facts to surface. Finally, Friday the 11th we received the following footage, https://youtu.be/q4FzQSse4Lw from our neighbors on the farm that had been out to their home next to our fields.

Scorched trees edge a blackened work road.
A blackened road where fire ripped through our farm near Vida Oregon. Smoke still lingers in the air.
Scorched trees with not burnt trees in the background.

Their home was still standing, our fields, for the most part are safe! While we did loose a fair bit of equipment and a yet unknown amount of trees, we are so very thankful for the safety of our crews and for the preservation of so many of our trees. We suffered significant loss of equipment which you can see in the video, and there was loss to a number of our fields but most of our acreage was still standing tall. This was due in no small part to us being very on top of weeds this year. Keeping the burn fuel low was just one of the many factors helping save our trees, there was a great deal of luck involved as well.

While our people and farm were unbelievably lucky, many, many more were not. A few miles East of our farm, most of the community of Blue River is gone. To the North of us, farms East of Salem are gone. Further South near Ashland, whole communities are mourning. And through it all, we saw people coming together. Supplies for families, feed and straw for displaced livestock, local restaurants closing and supplying food to displaced people. Neighbors, braving the toxic airs to collect windfall fruit for the livestock of people they have never met. The efforts of these communities, help remind us what is really important, what we can do for each other and personally, remind us here at Santa & Sons, about the magic of Christmas.

With all the loss and hardship this year, more than usual, we can’t wait for Christmas. It’ll be a season like there hasn’t been for generations. With so much heartache and uncertainty, Christmas is a shining star to look forward to and we think we all need something bright to look forward to. Be it a time for you to reconnect with your faith, to be in touch with family and friends, time spent crafting handmade gifts with your children or to volunteer and support those less fortunate, I think we can all agree that the coming holiday season will be a much needed reprieve for many of us this year.

All in all, we count ourselves very lucky. We will be able to run our Christmas Tree lot in Los Angeles as usual. We will get to spread the joy and magic of an old fashioned Christmas with you and your family. With everything this year has thrown at us, we look forward to wrapping it up by being there for you and yours, by helping bring a little bit of normal into your home this Christmas and by sharing with you, a little bit of homegrown joy.

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