Christmas is over. What are you going to do with that tree?
Farms in the region like Shay's Showbirds Flock of Fun Farm in Townsend and Ashby's Carraig Farm and Apothecary are offering an alternative to trashing Christmas trees: donate them as a post-holiday snack for their goats, sheep, and other animals.
"They like the idea of recycling their trees," said Shay Hernandez, owner of Shay's Showbirds. "A lot of them don't realize that goats like pine and if they have known that from years ago, they would have always looked for farms to donate their trees to."
The farm, located on Route 13, has already received five trees since the day after Christmas, she said. It tends to get up to 80 Christmas trees, Hernandez said.
She and her husband, Jose, placed several of them and donated wreaths in the backyard for their 11 goats to munch on. Their horses and pigs also enjoy eating the trees, she said.
The Christmas trees add variety to the animal's diets over the winter, Hernandez said.
Their animals can get through a tree in a day and will eat it down to the bark, she said. After that, the empty tree can be useful for them to play with or other animals, like ducks, to take shelter under them.
People come from surrounding towns, Fitchburg, Leominster, and even Boston to recycle their Christmas trees as animal food, Hernandez said.
On Friday, one was left in their driveway off Route 13 near a sign she made and posted a picture of on the farm's Facebook page.
Whenever they receive a donation, Hernandez checks the trees for rot and if they are coated with any chemicals that could be harmful to the animals.
This is the second year the farm has asked for donations, she said. The fire department also collects Christmas trees and distributes them to farms in town, including hers.
Carraig Farm, which is located on West Street, put a call out on its Facebook page Wednesday asking for people to drop off their trees, which will be a winter snack for its 12 goats, six sheep, pony, and horse.
"The bark and trees are packed with a lot of vitamins and nutrients," said owner Tamara Buckley Leclerc. "It's also a good way to offset the cost of food in the winter."
At the farm, they leave the trees whole and put them out for the animals to eat.
Carraig farm has been asking for tree donations for five years and usually receives 30 trees after the holiday season, which will be enough food through January, she said.
The animals are limited to one a day, Leclerc said.
"If we were to put all of the trees out there, they would eat them all and end up bloated," she said, adding that the animals can typically finish a tree in half an hour.
It's usually people from Ashby and Townsend who come to drop off their Christmas trees, Leclerc said. They can leave them on their front lawn or over by the dumpster.
For those who aren't able to come to the farms in Ashby or Townsend, there are options to recycle Christmas trees.
Fitchburg has curbside collection one week out of the year. It's scheduled for Jan. 9 -13. With a right permit, people can also bring trees to the landfill in Westminster.
Leominster also has curbside pickup for trees.
In Ashburnham, residents can bring their trees at the Department of Public Works at Landry Field to use for the annual town bonfire in February.
Massachusetts Christmas Tree Association says trees can also be repurposed as compost, protective covering for garden plants, or as a bird feeder.
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