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Newspaper Archive of
Cloverdale Reveille
Cloverdale, California
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December 24, 1980     Cloverdale Reveille
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December 24, 1980
 

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Page 4 Wednesday - December 24, 1980 A Christmas Tree Farm is more than just trees... By VIVIAN MENICUCCI With the Christmas season approaching we thought it would I a nice time to visit a Christmas , tree farm. The practice of w people chopping down a precious forest com- modity has been almost eliminated and now trees' are being purposely planted and grown to preserve riot only the precious com- modity of our environment but a beautiful Christmu tradition Thanks to men like George Zeni, who owns the Christmas Tree Farm we visited, out on Fish Rock Road, about fifteen miles west of Highway 128, families are still able to make the trek to the woods to select and Cut their very own, very special Christ- mas tree. George 7ami is the son of one of the early pioneer families who settled in this remote, historicat area. He is one of only two ranches in that area to grow au.ist- mas trees commercially. The other is theweli-known Lawson's ChriStmas Tree Farm, located just this side of Yorkville on Highway 128. Having started tree farming about fifteen years ago, Mr. Zeni said he never thought it would turn oqt the way it has. "In the beginning," he said, "I thought it was kind of crazy because in those arly days it was almost unheard of for anyone to raise a tree for Christmas. We started little by little, and through trial and error, our Christmas tree farm emerged and developed into a pretty good /  " deal."  : As we walked through the forest of little trees memories of my early childhood flooded my mind and settled into a warm glow. As the longing for those good old days emerged I was acutely aware of the unique im- portance of the work of this man andotheYs like him who help usj keep our traditions. Mr. Zeni talked about the farm, the planting, the care and the growing of these beautiful perfectly shaped little trees (the big ones were already cut and gone - ready for this year's 1980 celebration of Christmas), and as he did so with ob- vious expertise, a bit of family history also began to unfold. The Zeni property was once known as the Lom- bardi Sch6ol District. "We had our own school. My father built it way back in the early 1900s and rented it to the county for $1 a year. We all went to school there, mostly our own family, six of us. Five and a fraction students was needed to run a school district in. those days," Zeni said. Continuing our walk through the fields of trees we came to the private cemetery belonging to the Zeni family which is recorded legally with the Ukiah courthouse. The gravestones tell a story of heartbreak. There are seven unmarked and unknown graves and of the eight members of the Zeni ' ........ family buried there, five "'*:: ...... " died within a two-week period in 1922 of trichnosis poisoning from a pig p-.r- chased in a butcher shop in Point Arena. George in- vited us to come back some day and said he would "tell stories of the early days that would make our hair stand on end." Getting back to the story of the Christmas trees George told us, "You can't over sell and need to project about three years in ad- vance for sales. That way there will be different sLTes growing all the time; we plant about ten thousand trees a year, two thommnd trees to the acre. I plan on a seven year cycle. In seven years, the trees phmted today will be all gone and then we start over again." "Over all," he explaind$! , "we have about seven[y thousand trees planted in twelve or thirteen fields. I don't want to become to 9 big in my business so I have them set up on the seven- year cycle. 1 don't sell choice, select or utility trees, I sell only premium Photos by Janice Corey. George Zeni, owner of the Zent Christmas Tree Farm on Fish Rock Road, 15 miles west of Highway 128. trees and out of-the ten thousand trees planted and grown each year we sell approximately only six thousand of them. We plan for a continuation process because the trees don't all come up and grow the same at the same time and they don't all come up premium trees." Pointing to a newly planted area he said all trees eventually remain to start th e pruning. We generally start about Julte 20. 't % There are several prices charged for the trees which are sold either wholesale, "choose-and-cut" or to the Christmas tree lots. The txees are all measured and marked with brightly colored ribbons according to their size. An orange ribbon means the trees are between three and four fe The original Zeni family cabin, built in the 1800s is still on property. be cut remain where they are planted and grown. The "table tops" are cut in about two years when they reach about four feet tall. Mr. Zeni went on to explain, "I plant close with four foot high, the yellow ribbons mean the trees are between four and five feet high, white is between five and six, another shade of orange is seven and eight, eight and nine is a blue ribbon, two About 10,000 trees are planted a year -- 2,000 to an acre. Trees shown are about two years old. centers and* then later go through them, concentrating on the ones that are close and weed the table tops to give the others a chance to grow. The trees are all sheared once a year. When the new growth comes out and it can be bent withouut breaking off then its time tO blues is nine and ten, and three blues are ten and eleven. When a buyer wants any number of trees it is easy to sort and cut the size wanted by the color of the ribbon. Trees have problems and diseases just like every- thing else and are serious, Edward F. Johnson CHIROPRACTOR * Personal Injury" . Full Spine Technique * Insurance Cases . Phisio Therapy Workmen's Cornp.'o Applied Kinesiology Medicare . Nutrition 109 S. Main St., Cloverdale For Appointment Call 894.36O8 0if(co Hours: Mon..Fri. 9.6, Sat 9.12 untimely diseases is called Oregon Midgon. The trees have to be sprayed for this particular disease because it makes the leaves turn yellow and unsuitable for selling. "The worst part about it is it doesn't show up until the early part of December. Just when everything is ready to go you walk out into a field and see all that yellow stuff and its discouraging," Zeni said. During the Christ- masholidays many families visit the farm to "choose, and cut" their favorite tree, Zeni told us. "They go round and round and round trying to find the tree that's just right." Our tour of the Zeni Ranch took up past a grape vineyard and an orchard of chestnut trees which were planted by the senior Zeni in the early 1900s and are still bearing. To suit the commercial buyers' tastes and the general public the trees have to be specially pruned. Some people like the trees full and tight so they can put the electric things on them and some like the trees with long limbs so they can hang the old fashioned bulbs. He said "buyers" know exactly what they want.' Taking pride in the quality of his trees, Zeni then pointed to a field of trees which still had a lin gering dust on them which had not been washed off by he winter's eleven inches of rain. He commented, "I have to lake everyone of lhem back Io the house and wash them by hand before I could sell them." The trees are planted in Over all, the Zeni Christmas Tree Farm has about 70,000 trees planted in twelve m thirteen fields. Private cemetery belonging to the Zeni family. January which Mr. Zeni says doesn't lake much time, so he also works at timber falling in the woods each year (for Guido Praccilini). He has sheep to tend, a few cattle,, a vineyard and the orchard of cheslnut trees. He says he is busy all the lime, and, in fact, he said, "I 1 hink I have t oo darn much lo do acc- "From the 1st of November until the ......... 20th of December we really keep hoppin' a round here, I'll tell you!" ually. From Ihe firsl of November until the twen- tieth of December it really keeps you hoppin' around here. I'll lell you!" Our "loo short of a visit" Now representing Ukiah Datsun Steve Morrow "Call me collect" 462-1488 Ukiah Datsun 25500 State Street, Ukiah Number one import dealer in Lake and Mendocino Counties gifts and homemade food. The memories of those days are recalled with fondness -"Back in the early 1900s my father built a school house on our property known as the Lombardi School District and rented it to the county for $1 a year." but whether th better or just will never knoW childhood Christm# all, in the heart andi of the viewer and l hope, will never to Zeni's fascinating Christmas Tree Farm brought back many memories of those days "when the little red school house was lhe center soc;al life for families" and when it was a common practice for w hde families b go oul into he woods Christmas tree hunting ogel her. In those days it somel imes look a whole day to find jus he right tree, the right size that would reach Ihe ceiling, one that would be brought home and decorated wih great care and great ceremony -- and everybody helped. Those were lhe days of taffy pulling, stringing homemade popcorn to decorale lhe tree, homemade After Christmas More related phot* page 5 Cards * Gift wrap Decorations Many ()ther Cloverdale Rexall Drt I Starts Friday, Dec. 26 Ill Chevron 109N. Cloverdale Blvd. 894-250 Your COMPLETI00 " TIRE] SERVI00 CENTE Tires Brakes Shd Electronic Tire Bolancidt Electronic Front End Alignment ALL NEW ELECTRONIC A Model Station PeHegrini's Chevron recently earned the '*Hallmark Station Awarcl" presen;ed only to those exceptional Chevron stations providing professional service and maintaining an immaculate appearance that set them apart as a model station FRONT END ALIGNMENT Most Advanced System on the Market TOTAL 4 WHEEL ALIGNMENT Aligns front wheels with rear wheels All makes of foreign and domestic cars CALL NOW FOR AN APPOINTMENT ELECTRONIC " .--,.i ,1 "" Pe!legrinl BALANCING ? *  | 00oto,, 1 qu,pment t, nevron 0 00stn from pa lge.S and c ;tmas the Ch many themsel rne anxi l'herefore, gency of is offe Crisis c] ' l, Decerr " Decemb r Christm to 8 p.m ' these ervice Age is inler