As goats and pigs at Sweetwood Farm in Mahone Bay, N.S., continue to munch on old Christmas trees, the farmers keep finding old ornaments in them. Instead of throwing them away, they're seeing it as a way to attract more visitors.
Each year, hundreds of Christmas trees are dropped off to the farm after the holiday season to become food. Some were dropped off by individuals, but most of them came from the Town of Lunenburg.
Determining the rightful owner of an ornament will be tricky, said goat farmer and cheesemaker Heather Squires, but she said the plan is to rely on goodwill.
"We would love to meet them and introduce them to our goats," said Squires.
Besides reuniting people with their beloved ornaments, they'll get a special tour of the farm and a parting gift of some cheese made in part from the nourishment found in the discarded Christmas trees.
More than half a dozen ornaments have been set aside so far and Squires estimated there's at least another month's worth of trees left for the animals to eat.
She said finding an ornament or two in each tree is inevitable.
"They're dangerous to the goats, so we always give a quick inspection of the trees before anybody gets them," said Squires.
"Many of [the trees] are yellowed now, but the goats don't mind that whatsoever," said Squires.
"They're really after the bark. The bark itself is their primary treat at this time in the winter because it's loaded with minerals and goats just love it for that reason."
Cemetery of Christmas trees
Once the animals are finished eating the trees, what's left goes to what Squires called a "cemetery of Christmas trees." She said there are hundreds of "woody skeletons" at the farm now.
"We often use them in vegetable beds as a kind of compost. It gets broken down and so on, so they actually become part of the earth again," she said.