Fun Firs

Who says wreaths have to be round? Not the innovative folks on Cube Mountain.It works out perfectly — the Scottish Highland cows on Bill and Kathy Baker’s farm in Orford graze on the green shoots that would, if left uneaten, grow into hardwood trees. Keeping the hardwoods down, as Bill puts it, is a good thing when you’re growing acres of balsam fir trees: “The shade of hardwoods means the balsams get deformed and they don’t put on brush.” And beautiful brush is what the Bakers want — Kathy and her crew of workers use it to make wreaths.

She’s been doing her wreath business for 40 years; she started a few years after Bill inherited the 600-acre property, called Cube Mountain, from his parents. When they arrived at the farm, they had no idea how to manage its tracts of woodlands — she, a former nurse and mother; he, a car dealership owner.

Fortunately, they had a neighbor, Donald Tatham, who was a logger with experience in managing woodlands. With his guidance, the evergreens got greener. “The stand of wild balsams has been improved,” says Kathy. “The bad genetics have been culled out.” They also use sustainable farming practices, which means the greens are produced naturally, with no chemicals or harmful additives.

Each November Kathy hires additional people to handle the orders (they do online, too) for the company’s wide variety of Christmas wreaths, two-sided if you want. They also do car wreaths (see below), garlands and special orders.

The greens Kathy uses are not just balsam — there’s also Fraser fir, white cedar and white pine she gets locally and various other greens imported from Oregon. During the rest of the year she sells dried flower wreaths and arrangements, with most of the flowers grown on the farm and hung to dry. They also sell fresh flowers.

Kathy will travel to help decorate homes or businesses — hanging wreaths, wrapping garlands around railings and setting up flower arrangements — all just part of the Christmas happenings at Cube Mountain.

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