In Ballston, Christmas goes to the goats; Trees provide farm’s goats with post-Christmas snacks

San Clemente Island Goats feast on a Christmas tree. - Photo provided by Julie Murray

San Clemente Island Goats feast on a Christmas tree. - Photo provided by Julie Murray

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BALLSTON — Goats love Christmas … trees.

At least the San Clemente Island Goats at Mack Brin Farms in Ballston love munching on Christmas trees, said owner Julie Murray.  

“They love pines,” she said. 

Murray said it also keeps them busy. 

The 56-acre farm is one of New York’s only conservation breeders of San Clemente Island Goats, an endangered species, according to the farm’s website. 

When Murray first got the goats in 2010, there had only been about 400 known in the world at that time. Her herd has grown from just six goats to around 25 to 30 goats, she said, with anywhere from 1,300 to 1,400 worldwide.

Murray said the goats will eat the trees until they are completely bare and then she will use whatever is left to fortify fencing around the farm.

“They will eat them through the winter months,” she said. “They will strip them down until they look like toothpicks. … They’ll peel all the bark off and they eat it and then they rub on it.”

She said she puts the trees in the stalls and piles them along the fences to keep the goats from messing up the fences. 

Murray also said her goats can tell if a tree has been treated for bugs. 

“If the tree is treated in any way they won’t touch it,” she said. 

Murray said she would go about every other year to the town to ask for some of the trees they dispose of after Christmas is over. 

However, this year the town has decided it won’t be picking up trees. 

The town of Ballston will not be hiring a company for the disposal of our residents’ Christmas trees this season,” states the post. “Residents will be responsible for contacting their waste company to dispose of their Christmas trees. Outlet Road brush facility is closed for the winter and not plowed.”

She said she would get around 50 trees every other year. 

Town Supervisor Eric Connolly did not return requests for comment about why the town isn’t providing the service this year. 

Murray said people who are looking to dispose of their real Christmas trees can reach out to her about dropping them off at the farm. 

“I don’t want people just chucking them,” she said. 

She said if people just leave them at the end of her driveway the goats may wander out to the road because they see it there. 

The trees must also be clear of any decorations or other items and cannot have any known chemicals sprayed on them.

“Otherwise I just end up with a garbage pile, that’s what I’m worried about,” she said.

Murray said people should text her at 518-528-1987 for directions on dropping off a tree. 

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One Comment

Bill Wemple

Outlet Road facility should be open now for this purpose. There’s no snow right now during this small window of time required, so the town could collect all these trees and dispose of them, or simply hold them there till springtime at this location, if they acted on it promptly.

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