Cub Scout Pack Visits Heintzman Tree Farm
Cub Scout Pack #128 from New Martinsville visited the Heintzman Christmas Tree Farm recently to learn about trees and earn a special merit badge pin called “Into the Woods.” There were a total of five cub scouts and two siblings on the trip.
Mark Heintzman told the scouts that starting the tree farm was the idea of his father, who had bought the property in the early 60s and figured it would be a good way for his sons to earn money to go to college.
Heintzman explained he and his brother weren’t very interested in the tree farm business at the time.
They were teenagers who felt they had better things to do. However, Heintzman’s father finally convinced his sons to plant some Christmas trees in 1971, and the first few trees were sold in 1976.
There were two families managing the farm at its beginning, but now Heintzman is the only farmer left of the original five.
Heintzman explained how sometimes his wife Jackie helps on the weekends, but she is not much of a tree farmer. He teasingly explained how he knew that when marrying her though, so he can’t complain too much. He further teased how he has tried to convince his wife to drive the tractor, but she will not do that either.
Tree farming started off as a hobby for Heintzman until he retired a few years ago from the United States Postal Service. Now tree farming is more of a focus.
Heintzman showed the Scouts the inside of a tree that had been cut down recently and explained what scientists could learn by looking at the rings on the inside of the tree – age of the tree, as well as past weather-related information such as amounts of coldness, rain, and snow. He further explained how the bark protects the young wood on the inside of the tree. Heintzman explained how individuals could even study the wood on older buildings, in order to determine the climate the year the wood was cut for the building. The wood could date back as far as 600 to 700 years.
One area of the Heintzman’s farm is enclosed and full of mostly white pine trees. Heintzman said his father used to plant a garden in the area. However, Heintzman isn’t much of a gardener, and after his father passed away, he decided to plant Christmas trees in the area and left the fencing, as it is the most secure place in the field to keep the deer away.
Heintzman said he plants the seedlings for his trees and then places a flag in the ground, so he doesn’t mow over the area. He admitted he has had the tendency to do such; when the grass gets high, it is hard to spot the seedlings.
The trees will grow as much as eight inches on a good year. This past year they grew very well because of all the rain. Heintzman explained there are probably between 3,000 to 4,000 trees on the six acres of the tree farm. The rule of thumb is to have about 1,000 trees per acre, but he hasn’t replanted at all over the past few years.
The farm has three varieties of trees – White Pine, Scotch and Norway Spruce. Heintzman explained that watering the trees a lot at first is very important in taking care of a real Christmas tree. He also said if a person is to get a tree and let it sit for a day or two before taking it inside, then a small bit needs cut off the bottom. Otherwise the sap will seal off the bottom of the tree, which then won’t take in water.
The Heintzmans gave each child that visited the tree farm a bag with a tree to be planted, as well as some chocolate chip cookies made by Mrs. Heintzman. Mr. Heintzman told the kids they needed to put the trees in the ground as soon as they could. The children left the farm with all they needed to earn their badge, their very own tree to plant, and a belly full of homemade chocolate chip cookies.