Eight-and-a-half miles west of Utopia, Texas, in Real and Uvalde Counties, crystal-clear Blanket Creek runs year-round through picturesque Christmas Tree Ranch. Historically, the property was a cattle, sheep and goat ranch, as well as a beautiful getaway in the “mountains” of the western Texas Hill Country.
In times past, Apache, and later Comanche, Indians camped and hunted the land. Later, famous Texas Ranger and Indian fighter Ben Highsmith lived in a cabin on the ranch beside Blanket Creek. As an 18-year-old, Highsmith had been in the Alamo with his friends Travis and Bowie and was sent to get Colonel Fannin; he came back to find the Alamo already under attack and so was saved from the fate of the rest of the defenders. Highsmith later fought at San Jacinto and in the Mexican-American war in addition to numerous other encounters.
The Christmas family arrived by covered wagon in 1903, settled a portion of the property and gave the ranch its name. They had a simple subsistence lifestyle, living off cattle and sheep and growing onions and potatoes in a field cleared by cow- and man-pulled plow—the same field that would later become the Blanket Creek Tree Farm.
In 1993, Steve and Bea Dutton purchased Christmas Tree Ranch, and in 1998, Steve founded the Blanket Creek Tree Farm. He recalls, “The tree farm is named Blanket Creek because we don’t grow Christmas trees and didn’t want to confuse!” While they do sell trees to nurseries and landscapers, for 20 years Blanket Creek has been selling trees predominantly to Texas landowners. For that reason, they advertise in Texas LAND Magazine as they have found it to be the perfect outlet to showcase their small farm—It turns out that landowners love to look at pictures of other land!
While landowners usually come out, pick out their own trees and have them loaded on their trailer, Blanket Creek alternatively sends pictures of trees to prospective buyers and arranges delivery to the landowner’s site. Selling about 1,500 trees per year, the farm specializes in growing 12 species of 45-gallon native and popular trees. Blanket Creek also sells a few larger 95-gallon trees and is one of the few places anywhere that grows a large selection of Big Tooth Maple trees, a famous Hill Country tree that can also be found in the Lost Maples State Park. The tree farm is managed and operated by native Texans Shan Jones and his son Lee who own the neighboring Bear Creek Ranch. Shan and Lee are experts at growing beautiful trees and happily drive their customers through the rows of trees on a golf cart to pick out their favorites.
In addition to growing trees on the ranch, Steve, his wife Bea and their two daughters and sons-in-law love to spend time on the ranch hunting, hiking, fishing, barbecuing and generally enjoying a beautiful piece of Texas. As an entrepreneur with interests in oil and gas and real estate as well as other businesses, Steve often says that the tree farm is his favorite business, and that goes double during these challenging times!
For more information about Blanket Creek Tree Farm and what they offer, visit their website at BlanketCreekTreeFarm.com or contact Steve Dutton at (210) 602-9926.