ANKENY, Iowa -- This is the busiest time of year for those selling Christmas trees. This season is a little bittersweet for one metro couple. The Christmas season will get a little slower after more than two decades of growing and selling trees.
For seven days a week, four weeks a year, you'll find Mike and Renee Kidman surrounded by Christmas. Mike Kidman says, "We've planted trees every year since 1986."
The Kidmans sold their first tree from the field behind their home between Ankeny and Polk City in 1992. Renee Kidman says, "I remember sitting in our kitchen waiting for the first customer to come. We'd run out and help them, and we'd run back in the house and play cards, and run out for the next costumer."
One hundred people cut down trees that first year, growing to 1,500 the last five or six seasons. Mr. Kidman says, "As we age and the area changes, our lives are changing probably pretty significantly."
This year, the field of trees is gone, replaced by the homes of Kidman Estates. Customers can only select pre-cut trees. It's the last season for the Kidman tree farm. Mike Kidman says, "It was kind of a bittersweet feeling. And, as the season goes, we hear a lot of comments from customers that have been coming out here for years."
Even though it’s the last season for the tree farm, the couple is going to stay busy. They're focusing on their other business, selling something around the world. Mike Kidman says, "Our train business has grown so much that we feel it's plenty to keep us busy, so we've decided to give up the Christmas tree business."
The train business is called Reindeer Pass Railroad. Customers from around the globe buy displays to go around Christmas trees, in basements and even outdoor gardens. Mr. Kidman says, "We'll probably have more and more trains in this building for display, and we have another building that we warehouse and ship trains."
Now, with only one business next year, the Kidmans hope to relax a little more during what is usually their busiest time of year. Mrs. Kidman says, "I haven't started Christmas shopping, or my tree's not up yet, so those kind of things will get done a little earlier."