Children get presents. Goats get trees.
It’s that time of year again, when your Christmas tree is stripped of its baubles and tinsel and then tossed in the trash — unless, that is, you want to feed it to a farm animal instead.
Farms across the state are once again inviting people to give them their Christmas trees, and leave them for goats and other animals to munch on.
It’s a great alternative to merely sending trees off to the landfill, while also providing a treat for the hooved residents at their facilities, farm owners say.
In Massachusetts and other parts of the region, the practice has become a sort-of annual tradition, with families making the trek out to local farm stands to donate their discarded holiday trees.
While the rules for dropping off trees vary from farm to farm, there’re a few things all the organizations agree on: Trees should be free of pesticides, sprays, fake snow-coating, or fire retardants; locally grown and chopped-down trees are preferred and encouraged; and make sure there are no ornaments or decorations on the branches — no goats want that in their bellies.
Last year’s invitation was such a hit that the Gardner-based nonprofit is back at it again.
“It’s that time of year again Farm Fans! Don’t throw that Christmas tree in the landfill when there are hungry goats and other rescued livestock animals who would love to recycle it for you!” the organization, which bills itself as a therapeutic farm and livestock rescue program, wrote on Facebook this week.
Unlike last year, however, the farm won’t be driving to people’s houses to pick up trees. Instead, anyone who wants to get rid of their holiday centerpiece can drive it to the farm’s gate, at 827 Green St., in Gardner.
Most of the year, Firefly Fields offers visitors homemade goat milk soap, hosts goat yoga classes and farm animal parties, and deploys its mobile petting zoo.
But come the holidays, they let their goats have at it — and supply them with discarded Christmas trees to munch on.
“We will be accepting Christmas trees again this year,” the farm’s operators wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “Please no sprayed trees, they must be local fresh cut. No pre-cut, box store, tinsel, or ornaments. Drop off anytime, we will have a pile going on the side of the driveway across from the Little Free Library. Thank you all!!”
Firefly Fields is located at 9 Babb Road, Southwick.
Before they could even make the announcement, Channell Homestead, on the South Shore, started getting questions about whether they’d once again participate in the trees-for-goats initiative this year.
The answer? A resounding, “Yes.”
“Please make sure the tree has not been sprayed with any chemicals or fire retardant and that you did not use any tree food when watering the tree,” the farm’s operators said on social media. “Also make sure the tree is free of tinsel ornaments and anything else hazardous to the animals.”
Also important: Make sure the tree is still alive, they said, and that the needles have not already dried up. The goats, they say, are a bit picky, and “will not eat them if they are dried out.”
Donations can be dropped off anytime, and left in a metal, fenced-in area to the right of the farm stand at 92 South St., Hanson.
“It’s that time of year!” Georgetown-based Goats to Go, which specializes in goat yoga and hiking with goats, wrote on Facebook this week.
The 40-year-old farm is hosting a one-day-only drop-off event on Saturday, Jan. 7, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., for people to come by and leave their trees for the goats.
To take part in the event, which will feature live music and goats, visitors must sign up in advance online.
“Come drop-off your tinsel & ornament free, non-fire retardant trees for the goats!” according to event details. “No Tree to drop? No problem, come out an enjoy watching and make a donation!”
The “girls” at this Easthampton farm will gladly consume your holiday trees — but they can only eat so much.
“So we’ll be taking this post down in a week or so when we have received all they can handle,” the farm’s operators wrote on Facebook this week. “We ask that the trees should be clean and chemical/pesticide-free … fresh-cut is best.”
For details about dropping off trees, it’s best to send the farm a direct message on Facebook.
Here are some other local farms that have also offered to help you move beyond the holidays by filling their goats’ bellies with Christmas cheer: