The Elk Ranch

Going toward Traverse City, through Beulah up the hill and a right hand turn at the Best Western,  there is Bonnie Bros. land.  They own lots and lots of acres.   Lots and lots!

For our first Christmas here in Michigan, we wanted to go and cut a blue spruce to decorate. In California trees came already cut, loosing needles and generally looking pretty pathetic and they were incredibly expensive.  So Mike and I always opted not to have tree and decorate our grocery store bought palm tree with tinsel instead.

So, for our first Christmas here, we wanted a real and beautiful tree – a tradition which we kept up until last year.  But that’s a whole other (disturbing) story.  Someone told us to go to the Bonnie Brothers down between Beulah and Honor, “they have gorgeous trees and a bunch of elk”.  Huh?  Did he say “elk”?

So, the Saturday after Thanksgiving  1995, we bundled up the boys, because It had snowed quite a bit already. We climbed into my Bronco, Mike grabbed rope and off we went.     My eyes were as big as silver dollars when we arrived at Bonnie’s.  There were the most magnificent blue spruces and there were elk     😯

Through the deep snow we climbed, choosing this tree and then that.  One was more beautiful then the next, more perfect then the last.  My smart husband had packed some red ribbons which we tied to the trees we liked best.  Finally we made a decision and now it was time for Mike to pull out the saw and go to work.  While he did that, I “herded” the boys towards the elk.  I don’t think they realized what they saw there.  I got no reaction from them.  I was slightly disappointed about that but very happy to get this pretty tree home.

Bonnie Bros. has long since stopped selling trees and the elk are no longer here either.

Last week, when I drove to Traverse City, I took a jaunt down memory lane and drove by the place.  The signs are still there and it looks like the elk are just out at another pasture, but sadly they are gone for good.

Elk ranch

Elk ranch

Elk ranch

There’s the old, familiar sign

tree farm

And here are some of the trees still standing

log building

As I drove on, I came across this huge project.   All these logs stacked so beautifully. There was a single man there working on this building – with hand tools.


I’ll have to go back soon to see the progress he’s made.

11 thoughts on “The Elk Ranch

  1. Christine Tilley

    So sad that so many things change and we are just left with memories. What a great memory that is Iris. I have a similiar one at a Christmas tree farm when I was younger, minus the Elk. So what’s the plan for this years Christmas tree? I remember the debacle of last year….my, my, my…

  2. particularly sad since I never, before this blog started, took pictures of anything we did. I don’t know why that is/was. It never occurred to me to do that.

  3. Love the elk watching sign!

  4. Well now, of course you can’t do that, since everyone will know you did it.


    We had a farm here when we first moved that we took Lucas too, we picked strawberries there, went for hayrides, they had tractors and trucks for the kids to ride on and climb on, but sadly its all gone now, to make way for those ridiculous Mcmansions.

  5. I say go get the sign and hang it…better to beg forgiveness than ask permission

  6. thosebowmangirls

    That is so funny, because it is near my folks, and I dragged Burt and Caz out to cut a spruce among the Elk (reindeer substitutes) the first Christmas we had here, 1999. After living in Mississippi, I thought it was a real treat, aren’t Mom’s kinda silly?

    • I think you have a point with “silly”. I always pretend that I am June Cleaver although I cannot find my good pearls and therein may lie the problem – June Cleaver, of that I am sure, had the perfectly decorated tree!

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