Thursday, December 4, 2008

Betting the farm

Tom, aka Santa, from R’s Friday home game, made a rare appearance at Tuesday’s pub tourney. He lives in the next town over, about 10 miles away. I had just loaded the jukebox with a sawbuck, ready to set a mood for the first hour or so of poker.

“Tom! What brings you here tonight?”

“Hey bastin! Long time no see!”

“Long time? Let’s see, when was the last time…. Oh, I remember! You came in early with a $3 raise and Becky called. You bet the pot on the flop, and she called again. Then you checked the turn and she said, ‘No checking,’ and bet half the pot. You went all in on the river with KQ, two pair, and she insta-called with her set of eights. Then Mike led out for $10 and you went all in for $30 with your Jacks. Mike had AK and rivered you.”

“That was just last week.”


“I guess I don’t remember you being there because you play so few hands.”

True, I guess.

“I lost over $200 that night.” Another good reason not to remember me, let alone much else.

Tom’s daughter lives just a few doors down from the pub and his wife and she were decorating the Christmas tree. Tom declared a dislike of such events and opted to walk down the street to the game. He was at my table.

“You don’t like decking the halls, Tom?

“Too noisy; besides, I’ve had my fill of Christmas trees. You don’t know anyone who is looking to buy 4,000, do you?

“You’ve got trees too, eh. I heard the market this year sucks.”

“Yes, it does. It’s glutted. They’re offering us $4.00 for an eight-year old tree. But, of course, that isn’t stopping them from charging $40 or $50 retail.”

When we first moved to this area, I was astonished by just how many Christmas tree farms there were. Thousands upon thousands of acres of green conicals ranging in size from 1.5 feet to 14 feet tall. I asked myself at the time how in the hell there could be a market for so many trees. Turns out, there isn’t. Mind you, there used to be, but that was eight years ago, before everyone and their mother thought they’d jump on the bandwagon. Tom is just one of many farmers who are now stuck with a nearly worthless inventory that won’t even make for good firewood. Christmas tree farms have For Sale signs in front, instead of the usual U-Cut signs out front.

And today, I saw a 50 acre field of trees being bulldozed. They’ll probably put in grapes, just like everyone else. Nine years from now, you’ll be able to get a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir for $3, down from $25.

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