Page 62 - Phonebox Magazine December 2016
P. 62

Trees, Turkeys and a Christmas Tipple
The story behind your festive favourites
he build up for Christmas seems to are placed with the hatcheries. Different start earlier and earlier each year. hatcheries breed different strains of turkey As soon as the kids are back at and each strain will grow to a different  nal school after the summer holidays, size. Male birds also grow larger than female
the Christmas decorations start creeping into birds. This is how you can order a 5lb bird or
the shops. Then, once Halloween is out of the way, it’s full steam ahead and the festive joviality is thrust upon us from every angle. Some people choose to embrace this and get fully into the Chrismtas spirit. Others simply choose to ignore it until there is no choice but to festoon their house with lights and tinsel, usually egged on by someone who has been wearing a Santa hat since the clocks went back. Whether you’re a planner and created a Christmas spreadsheet in November or you leave it to the last minute, by the time the big day arrives, we’ve got the tree, you’ve got the turkey and you’ve probably got enough booze to last you long into the new year. However, there are certain people whose Christmas will start a lot earlier than November. The smell of turkey  lls the air, the Christmas tree is in the corner and you’re about to have your second glass of bubbles before midday – but where does it all come from? Here at Phonebox Magazine, we spoke to Pastures Turkey Farm, Stagsden Christmas Trees and Bucks Star Artisan Brewery to see what goes into making your Christmas favourites.
Christmas at the turkey farm begins in March. This is when the orders for the turkeys
a 20lb bird.
In July, day old chicks will arrive on the farm. The chicks will then be kept warm under heat lamps for a few weeks until they become hardy enough. At about six weeks of age they will be moved into pole barns and then at nine weeks of age they will have access to be free range. This is an unintesive farming method and the birds are slowly grown for  avour and to give the bird the best quality of life.
The birds will live like this until about the 10th December which is when plucking will begin. The plucking of each bird takes about 10-15 minutes, which doesn’t seem a lot, but Pastures Farm have got 1000 birds so they’ve really got their work cut out. After this the bird is then hung to improve the  avour before being packed up and supplied to the customer.
Christmas is a year long commitment at a tree farm but planting begins in March, which is when four-year-old tree plants arrive. These are planted in a designated block in rows which are spaced 1.2 metres apart.
There are several tree varieties but the two main ones are the Norway Spruce which drops it’s needles and the Nordman Fir which is non-drop.
The Norway Spruce will take six to seven years to reach six foot high – which is the average height for a tree in the UK. Whereas the Nordman Fir will take a massive ten years to reach that height. During that whole process, the tree will require care and attention.
When the trees are still young, the lower branches are removed to allow weed killing underneath. At this stage, deer and hares like to eat the top of the tree so this is another threat that the farmers have to contend with. As the trees slowly grow, they are shaped by hand – ensuring they’re the perfect shape with plenty of places to hang decorations. The trees are not all harvested at once, the 1.2 metre rows are thinned out – taking the trees that look ready and leaving the ones that might need more time to be perfect. Once all the trees have been harvested from one block (which could take several years), it is then stripped of the old stumps and left empty for 12 months before being replanted with fresh trees and the whole process begins again.
Once cut, the tree is left for 24 hours to allow the heat out, it is then netted up and supplied to the customer.
The method for producing beer isn’t quite as long as producing trees and turkeys, however there is still a lot that goes into creating a tasty Christmas tipple.
The process begins with barley. This is milled or crushed in such a way to expose the starchy centre of the grain. It is then added to a large vessel called a mash tun, where it is mixed with hot water and the exposed
62 Phonebox Magazine | December 2016

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