‘Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree’

Local tree lots open this weekend

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Art Malfait chops down a Fraser fir for his first customer last week.

Although it’s not quite Thanksgiving, at local tree farms, the Christmas spirit is in full swing.

Just ask the owners of Washougal River Christmas Trees, who are celebrating their second year in business with free cocoa, candy canes, coloring books, and animals that kids and adults alike can see up close.

“We have a lot more than just trees,” co-owner Teresa Palmer said. “We’ve added a donkey, mini horses, goats, rabbits, ducks and pigs. We brought everything into the barn and decorated it to give a festive feel.”

The horses, Applesauce and Rhubarb, join the donkey, Elvis, in private stalls where visitors can feed them apples and carrots.

“It feels really festive,” owner Art Malfait said. “It will make it a nice experience for the kids.”

Malfait and Palmer began growing the trees six years ago, but it wasn’t until 2010 that they sold them on-site. Visitors can chop down the trees themselves, and pre-cut trees are also available.

After the tree is cut, it is put on a shaker to remove all the dead needles and critters. Cutting assistance and tree baling is also offered.

Trees range in price from $10 to $30, and include Douglas, Grand, Noble and Fraser firs.

“Here, you’re getting a fresh tree, which is better than many of the lots,” Malfait said. “And we try to keep our trees affordable as well.”