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Trees to treats; how some local goats are chowing down on repurposed Christmas decorations

Some lucky ladies in Alexis, Illinois, are getting a healthy and sought-after treat, in the form of donated Christmas trees.

ALEXIS, Ill. — It's a Christmas tree turned New-Years-present for some lucky goats in Alexis, IL. 

Dailey Farms has been repurposing donated Christmas trees into treats for their herd of goats for the past three years. Owner John Dailey says he got the idea after noticing how many trees are set out on curbs each year, and wondering where they all go. 

"I know a few of the tree farmers in town and I was like 'I wonder what they do with all those old trees,'" said Dailey. "You just see them sitting on the side of the road and I’m like, 'that’s free food!'" 

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Since then, he just had friends and family donate trees, then the second year he was snowed out. While he had hoped for a bunch of donations this year, Covid cut into those plans as well. 

"So we're hoping next year is the big one," he laughed. 

Dailey Farms sells goat milk and (newly added) handmade milk soaps across the Quad Cities region. While the piney treats don't add any taste to the dairy, Dailey did joke that it freshens the goats' breath, which means more kisses for his girls. 

On Jan. 3, Patrick Scott and his family were up at Dailey Farms to donate their tree to the animals. 

"We put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving," said Scott. "It's a good way to repurpose our Christmas tree and show the kids that goats do, in fact, love Christmas trees. And the kids can look at some kids!" 

Even while Scott and Dailey were untying the tree from the car and preparing it for the herd, a small crowd of curious and excited goats started lining up against the fence, bleating in anticipation. 

"I got some pretty hungry girls," laughed Dailey. "When they're foraging through the woods getting their food in the summer time, pine trees is always a hot, a hot button for them. That's the first place they go. All the pine trees around here are eaten off to about 4-foot high because they just love it." 

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The trees are filled with Vitamins A and D, and are great for the goat's blood viscosity. 

"It's an excellent source of nutrients for them and that's how we do things out here," said Dailey. "They have a wide variety of foods. They eat a lot of weeds, they'll eat poison ivy, they will eat clover, alfalfa, grass, the whole nine yards basically like they're in nature." 

Within seconds of tossing the tree into their pen, the goats descended on the branches - chomping, scratching, and head-butting to get a better taste of the piney goodness. 

"They will pick is clean," laughed Dailey. "They will pull the bark off it and it's pretty impressive." 

While Covid-19 is slowing down the amount of donations the farm can receive this year, you can contact them on Facebook if you're interested in giving your old Christmas tree to the goats. It's also where you can check out the farm's soap sales, as well as keep updated on where their milk is being sold.