Like always, Christmas seemed to bombard us this year. As soon as Halloween passed, yup, there they were in the foyer of Home Depot. Sparkly, shining, blinking decorations. Just as the turkey was digested, the carols came on the radio and the stockings emerged from their warm weather hibernation. I don't know about you, but, despite all this, I wasn't really feelin' it. I just wasn't in the holiday mood. Until I visited Karabin Farms, that is.
When Diane Karabin and her husband moved their six kids to Southington in 1984, the property they bought wasn't even a farm. They needed to keep their brood busy and make the land pay back. "We decided to grow Christmas trees, thinking it was an easy project which it is not," says Karabin. Now, Karabin Farms stretches over 50 acres and features fifteen thousand Christmas trees, mostly of the Douglas Fir variety. And, as soon as Thanksgiving Day passes, this beautiful land is flooded with visitors as it becomes an actual winter wonderland.
A field full of cattle and mini-horse greets holiday revellers as they enter the gates. A few more steps brings them to a petting zoo, which features goats, bunnies and honking geese. The snack shack is also nearby and it's very difficult to pass up hot apple cider and homemade doughnuts. But, the biggest thrill is yet to come.
"They love the tractor ride," says Southington's Julie Larosa, as she hugs her two children. "Every time we come here, we get the tractor ride!" Visitors happily crowd into a big wagon attached to the work vehicle, as it winds its way up into the tree fields, providing a wonderful, traditional experience.
Once among the firs, folks follow some simple directions: find a tree, saw it down and drag it back to the wagon! It's important to cut a tree on a cool day and give it some love when it arrives home. "Make a fresh cut," says Karabin. "Or, rough it up with some sandpaper." This will help the tree drink a lot of water which should be flavored with a cup of sugar for the first feeding.
"There's nothing like getting out and smelling the fragrance of the balsam," says Karabin. "Finding that tree and getting down on the ground and getting wet or muddy or snowy and carrying that tree home!"
Put a little effort into your tree buying and you might just discover some old-fashioned holiday spirit!
Karabin Farms, located at 894 Andrews Street in Southington, is open every day during the holiday season but the tractor rides only take place on weekends from 9:30am until 4:00pm. Custom wreaths, bows and other holiday items are available in the gift shop. A tree, cut on your own, costs $45.00.