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‘Like a scene from a Hallmark movie’: Ring family finds out what it takes to run a Christmas tree farm

Brittany and Phil Ring stand with their daughter, Izzy, and son, Juddy. Photo by Bonnie Meibers/Grand Forks Herald

THOMPSON, N.D.—In October, many are thinking of what they plan to get loved ones for Christmas. Phil Ring was thinking of starting a Christmas tree farm in October.

"I mean, it was something we had talked about doing when we moved out here," Brittany Ring said on their Thompson farm. "But this was all Phil's idea."

The family even had gotten started two years earlier by planting 750 trees by hand in one of their fields.

But each of those trees is only a foot or two tall, not nearly tall enough to sell, Phil said.

"It was just taking so long, so we decided to get pre-cut trees in October," Phil said. "That way, people can find out about us and want to come when the trees we planted are tall enough."

The family got their pre-cut trees from Cambridge, Minn., and the Ring Family Farm was operational from Nov. 24 to Dec. 2.

While getting into the business of selling the trees ended up taking longer than the family first thought, once they had the pre-cut trees, everything seemed to fall into place quickly.

"I mean, I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I suddenly found that I had a new full-time job," Brittany said. "I was ordering trees, and then when we got that figured out, it was tree stands, and it was a lot of work but so much fun."

However, the Rings gave customers more than just a tree.

Kids could write letters to Santa, make Christmas ornaments and eat cookies while their parents purchased a tree. Customers also could sit by a fire pit or take a hayride.

The Rings even brought in reindeer from Drayton, N.D., for their opening weekend.

"We really wanted to do this for a long time," Phil said. "And it honestly went much smoother than we could have ever expected it to go."

The Rings did order far too many cookies for the two weekends they were open.

"But if that's the biggest mishap, I'd say it went pretty well," Phil said.

And their children, 6-year-old Izzy and 5-year-old Juddy, didn't seem to mind.

Families came from as far as Minneapolis, Crookston and Langdon, N.D., to partake in the Christmas-themed festivities.

"People told us it looked like a scene from a Hallmark movie," Phil said.

With an entire field of pre-cut Christmas trees standing upright on stands, it was difficult to tell the trees had even been cut.

"It's crazy how many people came out and supported us," Brittany said. "We're just so appreciative that people came out and started a new family tradition with us."

In all, the Ring Family Christmas Tree Farm was open just two weekends this year. However, they still have some trees left, and those still searching for a tree can privately message the family on Facebook.

"On our last day, which was probably our slowest day, we had 150 people come through," Brittany said.

And the Rings expect to continue selling trees for a long time.

"We're going to do it as long as people come," Phil said. "Even if just one family comes and has fun with their kids, it will be worth it."

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