As the new year approaches, many of us contemplate the destination of our Christmas trees. Thankfully, many municipalities have programs to collect trees in order to transform them into mulch or compost, a much better alternative than landfilling. We’ve always just chucked them out in the woods behind our house, where they will eventually break down and perhaps host some animals or fungi in the process.
It always seemed to me a waste of a good tree. After about two weeks of glory and admiration, the beloved tree gets thrown to the wind and snow. I figured there must be some higher and better use for the tree than just rotting in the woods, or at least a way to extend its time.
Then I read an article in our local paper last year about Christmas tree disposal. Apparently a llama farmer comes to our solid waste district to pick up Christmas trees for his llamas and brings them back pretty much looking like totem poles. Llamas?!?! I have llamas! All these years I’ve been throwing the tree in the woods to the disappointment of a few llamas and goats (goats don’t eat just anything, but they do eat Christmas trees).
This is a huge treat for these ruminants who, by January, have been living with snow for a least a month and without good lush grass for at least a month before that. Hay must get old by mid-winter. The tree stayed on their pasture for the remainder of winter to satisfy the llamas’ occasional craving for bark. Yum.
When it was time to plant the peas, the tree came out of the pasture and into the garden. Note: plant peas closer to the tree than you think. A bit of guiding the plant here and there and you have a free trellis. When the peas were done the tree branches were completely removed by an enthusiastic 5 year old with pruners (this is optional).
At the end of gardening season, all that was left was a trunk and a pile of sticks which became the foundation for a toad house built by the same 5 year old and still in the garden in case the toad wants to move in again next year. Just the trunk went to the woods, nothing more than a log really. You’ll have to trust me that it is there under all that snow.
It will be much easier to take the tree down in a few days, knowing it will be useful and appreciated by human and animal members of the family for another ten months or so. If you hear someone signing “O Christmas Tree” in June, it is probably me picking the peas.