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Their Goats Eat Xmas Trees
Christmas isn’t over for the Driftless Goat Co. until owner Peter Ruen makes the rounds of the local community, picking up discarded Christmas trees. Once back at the farm, the trees are parceled out as treats to his goats, who spend their summers controlling unwanted vegetation for landowners in the area. It’s a win-win for Ruen.
“The goats really enjoy the trees, but the best part of the program is the interaction with the community,” he explains. “We get a call or text with an address and find Christmas trees stuck in snowbanks.”
Ruen and his wife Cynthia started the program in 2018, not long after they started their vegetation control business. Each year the program has grown, and not just locally.
“We had a call from a suburb of Minneapolis, about 100 miles away,” says Ruen. “They offered us four pallets of trees, but we couldn’t justify the distance.”
In early 2022 he took a call from a woman 35 miles from his location. She had seen a story about the Christmas tree collection on a local TV news program.
“She asked if she could deliver her tree to our place,” he recalls. “The next day, she showed up with a tree sticking out of the back of her Subaru. This year she, her son-in-law, and her grandson pulled in with a trailer of trees. They had a great time visiting the goats.”
Ruen says that was an example of how the program fits as part of the Driftless Goat Co. business model of creating pleasurable experiences. That said, he does have limits.
“We tell people we need clean trees, no chemicals or paint, and they understand,” he says. “People have become very focused on natural trees.”
Ruen sees multiple benefits from the program. Tree branches serve as handy off-the-ground spots to tuck hay for the goats to nibble on. He adds that feeding the trees to the goats is a good alternative to burning or landfilling them.
“Like with our vegetation control business, we don’t advertise the service,” he says. “We just focus on our mission to answer the calls we get…and the calls keep coming.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Driftless Goat Co., 22514 Grosbeak Rd., Lanesboro, Minn. 55949 (ph 347-528-7581; www.driftlessgoatcompany.com).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #3