I’VE forgotten how many years we as a family have been getting our Christmas turkeys from Firs Hill Farm, Sheffield, but last year was a bit special. I had to borrow a wheelbarrow to get THREE birds to the car parked on Ringinglow Road: one for us, one for family and the third for a shopkeeping couple who couldn’t spare the time to collect it.
You’ll have seen the farm. It’s the one with all the geese in the field by the side of the road. The turkeys are kept inside in the barn.
I first met Jim and Angela Battye when I visited their 230 acre farm to write a Christmas story for the Sheffield Star, naturally ordered a turkey and it was so good I kept coming back for more. It has become, as all the best things do, a bit of a tradition.
Sometimes we meet Angela at the local farmers’ market where she takes orders or, failing that, ring up or do it online. The farm now has its own website and Angela a blog.The family may have been in the turkey business for over 80 years but they have no wish to become modern day Bernard Matthewses. They sell the same number of birds each year: 250 turkeys and 180 geese. This year turkeys will cost £3.60 a lb and the geese £4.70.
“They all sell.” says Angela, who has now a large number of repeat customers. Many of them, like me, are first attracted by the sight of the geese in the field. They arrive as day old goslings in May. The turkeys are different breeds depending on the weight they need to attain.
This all started with Grandma Battye. If she made Yorkshire Puddings is not recorded but Jim’s grandmother Alice began selling geese and turkeys from her farm at Oxspring over 80 years ago. It was a useful sideline. His parents, Albert and Gwen, took over and 30 years ago he and Angela, brought up on a farm at Stannington, moved to Ringinglow.
A Firs Farm Christmas bird ticks all the boxes: locally produced so few food miles are recked up, particularly as much of their feed is grown on 50 acres of the farm given over to beet and cereals.
For Jim and Angela “things start moving after Bonfire Night.” Publicity needs to be set into gear and orders taken. The birds are slaughtered and plucked on site in the middle of December then hung for about a week before being dressed to order. Then they will be put into cold store with the buyers’ names attached.
Collection day this year is Sunday, December 23. It’s always hectic. Then there will be a constant queue of visitors to the family’s farm shop, where people can also buy potatoes, vegetables, eggs, lamb (the farm has 500 sheep) and tubs of goose fat.
#Order from http://www.firsfarmsheffield.co.uk
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