Love for each other, love for the land

A sneak peek at the Carrousel Christmas Tree Farm 

By SHANE RICHARD BELL

Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

Don and Peg White love what they do and where they do it.

Some call it a Christmas love affair that lasts all year.

They’re Christmas tree farmers at their home, property, and business, Carrousel   Tree Farm, three miles south of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in Cougar Gulch. Don is 82, and Peg 76.

“We’re open now,” says Don, who expects about 5,000 people to visit their farm this holiday season. He also predicts, based on recent years, to sell between 800 and 1,000 Christmas trees.

“It’s the greatest time of year,” said Peg. “It looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. People come out of their cars dressed in yellow, red, green and blue and they scatter every way of the sun. It’s snowing. There are snowball fights. It’s just exciting.”

The property reflects Peg’s comments.

Their two dogs, Casey and Rusty, run up and down the country roads that intersect the farm’s nine tree lots and the Whites’ home, red with off-white trim, and a big porch. Hand-painted signs read “Candy Cane Lane,” “Hoot Owl,” and “Rudolph’s Grove.” Beyond is the family barn, a hand-hewn behemoth, glowingly red, built in the early 1880s. On its walls, written in graphite, were prices of wheat, oats, and potatoes in the early 1880s.

In the barn is the heart of their business. “People take pictures of their trees and then send them back to us so we can display it for them,” said Don White, pointing to six poster boards layered with several generations of families who have made finding a Christmas tree at the farm an annual tradition. On the end dangles a picture with the doodle of a family sitting around a Christmas tree, a thank-you note from a little girl.

“I get more hugs than anybody in Kootenai County,” said Peg. “It’s a labor of love.”

“There’s a real art to it,” said Don, summarizing all of the cultivating, planting, pruning, and sheering that each tree requires.

Peg pauses speaking, and looks down deep in thought. “This is a real passion for us. It is our passion. It’s a treasure. It keeps us young; it keeps us active. It keeps us getting up every morning. And, oh my, we spin our wheels every day. We’re up by 5 a.m. We have a lot to do.”

People ask the Whites why they work so hard year-round to make this farm come alive during the holidays. They wonder why since 1984, 28 years ago, they continue to raise Christmas trees.

They also ask them if they’d ever sell the farm.

“There’s at least 10 people who’ve told me they would buy this place if it were up for sale,” said Peg. “But if we sold this place, where would we go and what would we do?”

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