Did you know?

Goats will go to great heights to eat — even Christmas trees.

By Paul Viau | Jan 02, 2013
Photo by: File photo RISING TO THE OCCASION — Goats love trees, and this time of year, they love Christmas trees.

I must admit, everything I know about goats I learned in kindergarten, plus the research on an occasional goat-related story in 2012. But just after Christmas, I saw a news story on an ABC-TV affiliate that opened my eyes — about how goats just love eating Christmas leftovers. Trees, that is.

As a matter of fact, goats will strip a Christmas tree of its ever-greens and soft bark in minutes. And as a bonus, the goats then have piney-fresh breath — similar to the lovely aroma of the pine-scent cardboard tree that keeps the inside of my car from smelling like me.

If you’ve ever been to petting zoo, you know how bad goat breath can be a real turnoff to the kiddies. That’s because most show goats have a restricted diet of hay, goat chow, and an occasional child’s coat sleeve. Throw a spent Christmas tree into a petting zoo, and you’ll have a festive display of goat grazing plus, (BURP) breath like old tannenbaum himself.

Of course, I’m just imagining this spectacle. Sadly, most Christmas trees are spent long before petting zoo season. But if you have goats (and a lot of folks in Haywood County do), and you have neighbors with used Christmas trees cluttering up the yard (like so many of us do), then you have (if I remember my high school biology) a simbigioatic relationship.

In other words — got goats? Merry Christmas. Chances are, this time of year, you can reduce your feed bill.

Now I’m not suggesting that you dump your Christmas tree leavings in a neighboring goat farmer’s field. I got in way too much trouble last year when I suggested honking at goats along the roadways to see if they were the fainting variety. I since learned my lesson.

But if you know someone who keeps goats, ask him if he wants your Christmas tree.

It’s yet another way we can "eat local."

And you’ll know your tree is going to a better place than a landfill.

I wish I would have know about this unique goat appetite for pine trees when I was in Florida. One post-Christmas, I asked my teenage boys to haul our shedding Christmas tree to the front yard for pickup by the city sanitation department, and then went to work. When I returned home, the tree was gone, so I didn’t think a thing about it. Months later, as I was mowing the lawn, I noticed a dead tree in the back corner of our lot. It looked a lot like last year’s Christmas tree. In fact, there was still some tinsel clinging to the remains.

I confronted the boys, who if they were mowing the lawn like they were supposed to, would never have been discovered.

Sure enough, they had missed the trash pickup and resourcefully, had hidden the tree in the outer perimeter of the yard.

If only we had goats when we lived in Miami. On second thought, they would have probably been mistaken for Chupacabra.