OREGON — On a cool spring day in 2004, a chicken in Oregon pooped. Ten years later, you strap a Christmas tree to the roof of your car.
The span between that hen and your living room is filled with a decade-long process to plant, grow, harvest and ship one of 6.4 million Christmas trees reaped each year from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the Christmas tree capital of the world. The system involves hundreds of people, most of whom work for one very short and intense period of the year, every year.
Your tree has a complicated backstory, one that includes daredevil helicopter pilots, 18-hour days battling Oregon sleet and, of course, the fickle hibernation habits of squirrels.
Here is how (and where) an American Christmas tree comes to life.
In Oregon, Christmas trees outnumber humans 12 to 1.