Since 1933, the Caldecott family have reared turkeys on their 40-acre farm in Wythall, Worcestershire, where brothers Les and Peter saw an opportunity to sell turkeys at the local Christmas markets.
Looking back on his childhood, Robert Caldecott can’t remember a Christmas where he didn’t look after Turkey’s. He uses the same age-old traditional methods passed down by his father Les. Robert sources his day-old British turkeys in March and by May the sheds are ready for the new flocks. When they arrive, Mrs Caldecott puts her name on one so that it can’t be sold. “A turkey farmer without a turkey on Christmas Day would be very sad” says Robert.
His traditional methods are complemented by exceedingly high standards of welfare. The turkeys roam freely, enjoying feed and water at all times, and the airy barns provide much needed shade and shelter from the weather. They’re farmed as naturally as possible and each day they receive a fresh bed of barley straw and a special vegetarian diet to give the meat a delicious, creamy texture.
It’s not just poultry that the Caldecott’s are passionate about, they’ve also converted a four-acre field to conservation, providing a natural home for many species of bird and wildlife.
In December, each turkey is carefully prepared and when the last turkey leaves the farm thoughts turn to Christmas Day. Robert takes charge of cooking the turkey and everybody gathers round the old farmhouse table to tuck into Mrs Caldecott’s hand-chosen turkey and all the trimmings. After lunch, Robert sneaks off into his shed with a brandy and reflects on the festive season and all the hard work that goes into making that once a year meal just perfect.