Steele's Christmas Tree Farm began one cold January morning in 1979 with the planting of 1,000 Virginia Pine Seedlings. The field was laid out in a grid for mowing and spraying, and the seedlings were planted by hand with a dibble. The first year ended in disaster when my pet donkeys got into the field during early winter and ate the tops out of nearly every tree. I was upset to say the least; I wondered..., how would barbeque donkey taste?
January 1980, I planted 5,000 Virginia Pine Seedlings to make up for lost time. The first year was spent mowing and spraying herbicide and insecticide for the weeds and insects that soon found the newly planted seedlings. Producing Christmas trees is very labor intensive, and in the early years it was all done by hand; planting, spraying, shearing, and even shaking the trees for the customers at selling time. As time passed I was able to mechanize and it was not as hard on the old back.
December 1983, My wife and then 2 young children, Amanda 5, and Kevin, Jr. 3, opened the farm to the public and sold about 350 trees the first year. We were elated to start a small family business, as Christmas tree growers, on a shoestring budget and to see it come to fruition. It just goes to show you what PRAYER and hard work can accomplish.
September 1985 saw the caboose added to the family with the birth of our second daughter, Bethany Anne, and our lives have never been the same. Tree sales have steadily climbed over the years to peek around 900 trees a year, that is until...
November 1993, A devastating fire burned thru the farm, destroying all the trees except that year's crop, which was ready for market. Discouraged, I told my wife Beverly that I had had enough and was going to close the farm for good. She understood and as usual went along with what I wanted to do. But as fate would have it, having put so much time and effort into our farm, a few months later I was planting the next crop of Christmas trees.
November 1997, Our farm opened once again to offer the residents of Washington Parish a farm where they could select and cut your own Christmas tree.
December 2000, Our eldest daughter Amanda married Luke Jones in a lovely evening service at Centenary United Methodist Church.
January 2003, My son Kevin, Jr., second generation Christmas tree farmer, has become a full partner in our farm.
January 24th, 2003 Our daughter Amanda and son-in-law Luke Jones gave birth to our third-generation Christmas tree farmer, Triston Luke Jones.
August 2003, We experienced every parent's nightmare: our son had been called up for active duty in Afghanistan. Our son is a sergeant and member of the 205th Engineer Battalion of the Louisiana Army National Guard, stationed in Franklinton, LA. He and his unit were stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan until June 2004. Thanks to many hours of prayer, Kevin and all of his unit returned home safely after a job well done.
March 10, 2005, My family has been blessed with the birth of our first granddaughter, Lainie Elise. She is the daughter of Amanda and Luke.
April 23, 2005, Our son Kevin, Jr. was married to Donna Adams in a beautiful afternoon service at Superior Ave. Baptist Church. The couple honeymooned in the Dominican Republic.
August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina reared her ugly head on the State of Louisiana. Our farm was severely damaged. Most of the Christmas trees were blown down, but thanks to the help of my family who were all displaced from New Orleans, we were able to straighten out all the trees. The crop is doing quite well and will be ready for the 2005 season, which opens the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 26, 2005.
September 19, 2007, Our second grandson was born, Trace Michael, to our son Kevin, Jr. and his wife, Donna. Trace is also a third-generation Christmas tree farmer; they can never start too early.
March 29, 2008, Our daughter Bethany Anne was married to Glen Seal in a lovely outdoor evening service at the Franklinton Country Club. The couple honeymooned in St. Martin.
September 11, 2009, Our son Kevin, Jr. and his wife Donna were blessed with the birth of their second son, Samuel Tripp Steele, named in memory of my father, Samuel Davenport Steele, Jr., who passed away October 3, 2008. Triston and Trace will have another set of hands to help out on the farm.
October 19, 2009, Our daughter Bethany and her husband Glen gave birth to their first child, Kylie Anne Seal. We are getting a lot of free labor on the farm; Keep it up Kids!
April 23 2012, Our son Kevin, Jr. and his wife Donna were blessed with the birth of their third son, Colt Adams Steele, WOW, I need to buy more pruners.
September 28th, 2012, We opened our Pumpkin Patch, Corn Maze, and Petting Zoo. What a wonderful addition to our farm.
November 15, 2012, Our youngest daughter Bethany and her husband Glen were blessed the birth of their second child, Kale Anthony Seal, that's number 7, soon we will not have to hire any help.
October 16, 2013, Our youngest daughter Bethany and her husband Glen were blessed with the birth of their 3rd child, Glen Kase Seal, you two need to get the t.v. fixed, that's number 8 grandchild.
My family and I would like to thank you for visiting our Christmas Tree Farm in Louisiana this holiday season, and we pray that our Lord will watch over and protect our troops in harm's way as well as you and your family.
And please remember the real reason for the season: The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!