"It's not just the time when you're selling trees and not even that month before of preparation," Pam said. "It would start in March."
That included mowing, shearing, planting, and spraying trees over 20-plus acres. During the holiday season, it wasn't uncommon for the Nelsons and their employees to work more than 12 hours on some days. Then there were the 10 years when they also made and sold wreaths on the wholesale level.
"That first year we did wreaths, I lost 27 pounds in six weeks," Pam said. "We were both averaging about six hours of sleep per night at the most."
When the farm first opened, Jack sold trees from the back of his pickup. There was no baler or shaker.
"I did have a few saws," Jack said. "So I'd sit in my truck, someone would drive up, I'd hand them a saw, they'd go out and cut down a tree. Then if they wanted the needles shook, I'd just take it out on the county road (and knock it against the asphalt)."
He built the gift shop himself in 1991, using lumber he bought cheap from a friend whose house was damaged by straight-line winds.
"We were pretty economical at the time," Pam said.
They've also always been charitable. When FedEx and the National Christmas Tree Growers Association started the Trees for Troops program, the Nelsons immediately donated some of their inventory for veterans hospitals and military personnel serving overseas to enjoy. Often they included ornaments and handmade Christmas cards.
"Sometimes we'd get letters back, some with photos of the troops around the tree," Jack said. "For us that was very rewarding, to know those trees were appreciated."