Baling the Christmas Tree

Do you have a Christmas tree in your house? Do you prefer real or artificial, fresh-cut or chosen from a lot? Some of my favorite holiday childhood memories includes hunting for a Christmas tree on a tree farm with my parents and sisters. We couldn’t always find a tree to cut — for a while it was much too expensive so we had to resort to those already cut (I suppose the tree farms ran out of old enough trees). Thankfully the trees are tall enough once again so my parents can still cut down a fresh tree. And, to my delight, up here in Vermont we have many tree farms.

One part of the tree farms that I always liked – aside from the wagon rides on some farms – was watching the trees get baled by those crazy looking machines. Much to my delight, the tree farm near us had a seemingly older tree baler in operation. Rather than white plastic rope or some white plastic netting, this baler wrapped the tree in red twine. How festive! (In full disclosure, I know nothing of tree baler history. Searching Google Patents reveals some Christmas tree balers in the 1950s and 1960s. My guesses are only guesses – not facts. Feel free to jump in.)

Christmas tree baler in operation. The metal plate reads "Howey."

A search for Howey tree baler finds that this company has been making tree balers since 1967.

Red twine! Metal hooks attach to the bottom tree limbs.

The end of the machine. The pulley system is on the other side - it seems to operate in a circular or oblong shape.

All baled up and ready to go, with help from the tree farm employee.

So, any tree baler historians out there? How about you industrial archaeologists? Fill me in! I’d bet this one is a few decades old. The farm had a newer one (shinier, white plastic rope) in operation as well, but I much prefer this one. If we go back next year to the same farm, I’ll ask a few questions.

Enjoy your Christmas tree cutting and decorating!