Taking Down Your Tree? Feed It To A Colchester Goat

Jan 2, 2015

Your Christmas tree may be dry and droopy and dropping its needles, but as far as the goats at Pine Island Farm are concerned, it's looking pretty tasty.

That's according to Karen Fruedenberger, project manager at the Vermont Goat Collaborative in Colchester, which is currently soliciting unwanted Christmas trees, a.k.a. goat snacks, on its Facebook page.

"At this time of year, they don't have anything fresh," Freudenberger said by phone Friday. The winter diet at the collaborative, which provides refugees resettled in Vermont with unwanted bucklings from dairy farms to raise and slaughter for meat, is dry hay and grain.

"Like the rest of us in mid-winter, if we could have a couple of fresh tomatoes, we'd be pretty happy, too," she says.

This is the second year that the collaborative has collected trees for the animals and the first time it's put out a public request. Last year it received about 20 trees from members of the community, Freudenberger says, which goat farmer Chuda Dhaurali supplemented by making a few rounds through nearby neighborhoods and picking up trees left out on the curb.

"At this time of year, they don't have anything fresh. Like the rest of us in mid-winter, if we could have a couple of fresh tomatoes, we'd be pretty happy, too." - Karen Freudenberger, Vermont Goat Collaborative

Freudenberger can't overstate how delicious the trees are to the goats. "We didn't realize how much the goats were going to love the trees, but they really, really, really love them ... When they have stripped down that tree, there is nothing left."

And she says they have some health benefits, too: "They have tannins, and other medicinal qualities, I guess you would call it, that treat any parasites that the goats might have."

The collaborative is open to drop-offs at any time, but is inviting people to stop by on Sunday, Jan. 4 or Saturday, Jan. 10 between 1 and 3 p.m., and will be thanking people with hot drinks and goat cookies. The post, which has directions to the farm, has this reminder: "Please remove all ornaments and tinsel!"

Update Jan. 5, 2015 2:30 p.m. VPR's Patti Daniels stopped by Pine Island Farm this weekend and got a series of shots we couldn't not share:

The trees have tannins and "other medicinal qualities, I guess you would call it, that treat any parasites that the goats might have," says Vermont Goat Collaborative project manager Karen Freudenberger.
Credit Patti Daniels / VPR

    

"We didn't realize how much the goats were going to love the trees, but they really, really, really love them," Freudenberger says.
Credit Patti Daniels / VPR
Happy goats.
Credit Patti Daniels / VPR