Piper Mountain’s Most Recent Chapter: Letter from Jim and Norma Corliss

 

Dear Friends of Piper Mtn. Maine Wreaths & Gifts,

Thank you once again for opening our little website and taking the time to read our news. And we have big news indeed.

We have sold our home, farm and business! The new owners are Mac and Anne McCullen. Mac is currently finishing up a 34 year career in the Navy. We are running the farm this year as usual and they will be taking over on January 1, 2019. We have purchased a home about 10 miles down the road in the neighboring town of Hampden and have begun moving stuff and will be moving ourselves after Christmas. We will still be involved in the farm as mentors and consultants.

Mac is no stranger to the land, having grown up in Pennsylvania. He knows what hard work is and there’s no shortage of it around the farm. He and Anne have been spending time here and will be with us much of this season observing and learning.

One day in 1983 or ‘84 a customer observed that our wreaths were very nice (we were making about 200 at this time) and mentioned how much a relative in Arizona would love one. So (guess who) stepped right up and said we would send her one. In 1992 we were shipping about 300. We built a new barn and shop and were told about a small mail order company called Country Spice Christmas which was for sale. We bought the assets and here we are, 25 years later.

The McCullens will bring new ideas and new energy to the farm and will continue the mail order segment, making needed changes. We wish them well. We thank you for your loyalty, some of you for the entire history of our ownership. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Jim and Norma Corliss

How Piper Mountain Became Piper Mountain

The property was settled in 1800 by the Bickford family and remained as a subsistence/small dairy farm through five generations until the early 20th century. Several owners followed and the farm went out of the dairy business in the mid 1960’s. We purchased the property in late 1968 when Jim was transferred by the FAA to work in the control tower at the Bangor airport.

There are about 185 acres, 150 of which are typical north temperate zone woodland, and 30 acres of more or less tillable ground. The idea of growing Christmas trees was implanted by an extension forester who was engaged to advise on care of the woodlot. We sold the first trees in 1978, handing customers a saw from the front porch. A small barn/sales area was built in 1981 but by 1992 had become too small and the current facility was constructed. The new barn is 40 x 100, with a 40 x 40 heated area at one end devoted to a gift shop, wreath construction, decorating and shipping.

Along the way we have added free shaking and baling of the trees, photo ops, hay rides on weekends, school tours and a scavenger hunt for a stuffed bear for the kids. We try to make the experience fun for everyone, including ourselves. And it all happened because someone thought it would be a good idea to plant a dozen little balsams to have a few Christmas trees for friends! 

Every year Christmas tree growers from across the nation compete for the best tree at the convention of the National Christmas Tree Association. The winning farm is awarded the honor of presenting a 18 ft tree to the first lady to be used in the Blue Room. The association's president gets to participate, representing the association membership. Jim was president in 2002 and 2003. We still have to pinch ourselves to believe this actually happened! 

Some years ago, Jim was invited to speak on the Martha Stewart Show. The show discussed how to select a great Christmas tree! To view that video: Visit Site