‘Tis the season for Sperin Christmas Tree Farm
|Looking like perfectly-shaped upside-down spinning tops, these trees will make any home festive.|
By Anita Rosen
Photos by Daniel Rosen
Gather the family in your modern-day sleigh and let’s go - as Lydia Maria Child once wrote – “over the river and through the woods” to Sperin Christmas Tree Farm along Yellow Creek Road.
|Wise beyond her years, Jade Sperin knows time spent with her grandfather Hubert is very special.|
Fifty-one years ago, Hubert Sperin of Ball Ground married Mary Bryan of Marble Hill and bought the land across the street from the farm where he grew up. A talented and resourceful couple, Mary did the blueprints for the house which Hubert, with some help from his friends, built. Today the Sperins own 14 acres of the original holding. In addition to Hubert and Mary, two sons and their families live on the property in Sperin-built homes.
Hubert worked full-time as a USDA poultry inspector, but, thinking ahead to retirement, he was concerned about how he would expend his abundant energy. With an agricultural upbringing to draw on, he decided to try tree farming. Bearing out his hopes for profitability, the tree farm has provided seasonal work for all the Sperins for the past 20+ years. Three children, four grandchildren, and all the spouses pitch in to help during the busy time.
Arriving for a look-round on a brisk autumn morning, my trusty photographer and I were greeted by Jade Sperin, Hubert and Mary’s granddaughter. Almost 19 years old, Jade - a student at Gainesville State College - makes time every fall and winter to work at the tree farm. Claiming this as her favorite time of the year, Jade declared, “I get to spend time with Grannie and Paw. It’s special.”
|Showing the good humor needed to run a tree farm, Hubert Sperin demonstrates the unique trimmer.|
The Sperins raise Leyland and Murray cypresses. Leylands, old-timey favorites, are a sterile hybrid which grow up to four feet a year. More recently, however, the Murray cypress has become popular; it grows faster and is hardier than the Leyland. Its dark green foliage makes an attractive backdrop for lights and tinsel while the strong limbs are proven ornament-holders.
Hubert likes the ease with which both of these varieties can be shaped. A special hedge trimmer, strapped to Hubert’s back, hangs like a misbegotten fishing pole from a cord at - more or less - the correct angle for trimming. Incredibly, when he was younger, Hubert could shape 200 trees in one day, using a separate trimmer for the tops of the larger trees. Today he has slowed the pace a bit but is a testament to keeping active during retirement. A few trees are left untrimmed allowing branches to arch gracefully in their less compact natural habit.
For many, nothing signals the start of the holidays like bringing home the Christmas tree. Cutting your own at Sperin’s makes this a scrapbook-worthy family event. Hand saws and a chain saw are available but, if the thought of wielding a sharp implement scares you, one of the Sperins will help at no extra charge. While the trees are light enough for most to carry back to their cars, a trailer is on hand to help with the task.
A 6-foot tree is just $25; add $5 per foot after that. Pull up and knock on the door if you don’t see someone outside in the temporary trailer set up for the season. Remember weekends are the busiest. There will be about 300 trees available, but come early as they usually sell out.
Hubert loves seeing his regular customers and counts many from Big Canoe among his annual visitors. He told of some folks who came from “up north to family in Big Canoe. After helping with the tree here, they came back for one to carry home for themselves!”
Located along Yellow Creek Road at #6694, Sperin Christmas Tree Farm is open daily from Thanksgiving Day through December 24, or until trees sell out, 10 a.m. to dark.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2012 along Yellow Creek Road.