Here at our New England bed and breakfast we're always looking for ways to recycle our discards and work towards being as sustainable as possible. With that said, we're die hard traditionalists when it comes to the holidays and so a freshly cut New Hampshire grown Christmas Tree and roping are a must in and around our 1774 Colonial Inn, but then there comes the dilemma of what to do with those greens when the holidays are over. Of course you can place them outside for the birds, but then what? Our solution...feed them to our cashmere goats!
We've raised cashmere goats here on our sustainable pasture-based farm since we bought the bucolic Walpole, NH property in 1998. As a matter of course the goats' natural grazing opportunities are greatly diminished in the cold months of our southern New Hampshire winters so when a green, "fresh" tree is brought into their pasture in the stillness of winter, the goats naturally become curious. Here Frankie, Miss May, Jack and Queen Ophelia come quickly to inspect the tree.
The green needles of the trees are a welcome treat compared to the dry hay which is their staple diet this time of year. Miss May takes the first bite.
Not only do the goats love the evergreen needles, but use their bottom teeth to work the bark off the tree's trunk and branches as well.
In short order, all the needles "disappear" and the tree is completely stripped off all its bark including that of each and every branch. Here the removal of bark is well underway, but not yet completed stripped as you can see parts of the brown bark still remaining. The white on the ends of the branches are tufts of cashmere pulled from the goats' coats as they work their way into the inner part of the tree.
Here Frankie assess the tree. Is she feeling a sense of satisfaction having completed the task? Or feeling sad that there's not more?
The end result?? A great tinder to start a bonfire to celebrate winter for us humans and...fresh "minty" breath for the goats - Miss May will be happy to prove it!
Obviously this method of Christmas tree recycling won't work for everyone, but if you're planning a visit to our New Hampshire country Inn located in New Hampshire's picturesque Monadnock Region shortly after the holidays feel free to bring along your old Christmas tree. The goats will be happy you did!
Jackie Caserta, Innkeeper The Inn at Valley Farms