David M Zimmer Staff Writer, @dzimmernews
Published 3:01 PM EST Dec 21, 2017
The fire’s roaring, the halls are decked and there’s much merriment all around.
At your feet, a loyal hound is at rest. In your goblet, there’s a healthy serving of mead.
Scratch that. We’re not in Merrie Olde England.
You’re more likely kicking off Christmas beside a gas-insert fireplace in a four-bedroom, center-hall colonial in Ridgewood, Wayne or Morristown.
Still, you may find yourself pondering what your true love might want for Christmas. How could you make “The Twelve Days of Christmas” a reality today, in northern New Jersey?
The catchy carol about extravagant gifting is based on a work of French origin dating to the late 18th century. The eponymous melody composed by Englishman Frederic Austin in 1909 made the carol a holiday standard.
The lyrics claim someone’s true love gave the narrator gifts each day from Christmas through Jan. 6, the Christian Feast of the Epiphany.
Let’s try to keep up. We’re doing this for true love after all.
Day 1: A partridge in a pear tree
Some of these gifts are going to require advanced preparations. In the case of the pear tree, give Alan Rubin of Alpine Nursery & Garden Center in Belleville a call two or three days in advance.
“I think I have one, but it’ll take me a couple of days to get it out,” Rubin said. “It’s behind all the Christmas trees.”
The nursery sells 6- to 8-foot pear trees for $60 each, Rubin said. The non-fruit bearing pear trees, a common flowering street tree, will run about $170 for an 8- to 10-foot specimen, he added.
Then, head west toward Buttonwood Game Preserve in Phillipsburg. There, Gail Ryker will sell you a chukar partridge for $8.15. The birds, generally in season from late-August through March or April, are sold for hunting, to train hunting dogs, and as a future meal, she said.
“They’re a decent bird to eat,” Ryker said.
The chukar’s cousin, the gray partridge, was introduced to the United States through New Jersey by Richard Bache, Benjamin Franklin’s son-in-law. They are found in states north and west, but have long left the garden state.
To get the ground-nesting chukar in the tree, lasso its leg with a $1 length of rope from any local hardware store. Or, just hope it hops in there.
Total: $68.15 to $179.15.
Day 2: Two turtle doves
Take the easy route.
Pop over to Michael’s, the craft warehouse, in Paramus, Clifton, Wayne, or elsewhere and grab a dove-shaped candy mold for $5.
Once the silicone mold is in hand, drive to your favorite grocer and purchase about $10 worth of chocolate, peanut, and caramel. Melt the chocolate. Mix with other ingredients. Pour the combination into the mold. Wait, then gift.
For the bold: call Stromberg’s Chicks and Game Birds in Pine River, Minnesota. The breeders there will send you a live pair of European turtle doves for $260, plus shipping.
Tip: Buy at least one female. Male turtle doves are known to fight.
Total: $15 to $260, plus shipping.
Day 3: Three French hens
When shopping for French hens, few are more iconic than the Poulet de Bresse. Typical birds of that breed from the Rhône-Alpes region have blue feet, white feathers, and a red crown, representing the colors of the nation’s flag.
Prized for its flavor, the bird is highly regulated in France and rarely exported. Nevertheless, American-hatched white Bresse can be bought for $29 as day-olds from Greenfire Farms. Shipping from the Midway, Florida breeder is extra.
Total: $87, plus shipping.
Day 4: Four colly birds
This gift would be easier to find if the lyric was “four calling birds.” It’s not.
“Colly bird” is a regional English synonym for the common blackbird, a Eurasian species which is entirely uncommon in North America. A quick Google search for “blackbirds for sale” points to a discontinued type of Honda CBR motorcycle known as the Super Blackbird. The cheapest four on cycletrader.com this past Monday had a combined cost of $14,449.
Call back Greenfire Farms. Ask for four Swedish black hens for $99 each. The birds may not be common, but they are also black – from feathers and beak to organs and bones.
Total: $396 (plus shipping) to $14,449, plus title and registration fees.
Day 5: Five golden rings
Golden doesn’t have to mean solid gold. Still, these gifts are supposed to be from one’s true love. So, head over to Devon Fine Jewelry in Wyckoff where Nancy Schuring can show you a variety of 14-karat rose gold rings.
“It’s a colored gold,” she said. “That’s the hot thing right now.”
A fancy heart-shaped ring will set you back $599, Schuring said. A more staid geometrically-patterned ring will run $250, she added.
Total: $1,250 to $2,995.
Day 6: Six geese-a-laying
State of New Jersey regulations prohibit the use of nets to hunt goose, so your best chance of catching a live one requires an advance call to the Goffle Road Poultry Farm in Wyckoff. Throughout most of spring, summer, and fall they’ll wrangle up a 10-pound goose and help you get it in the car for $65.
The farm store also sells geese a-laying dead, as opposed to laying eggs. Six fully-plucked, 10-pound birds sell for $479.40.
Feeling fancy or lazy? Union’s D’Artagnan Foods claims the finest ready-to-eat birds around and will ship fresh 10- to 12-pound birds to your door for $199.99.
Have a shotgun and some shells? Buy a license for firearm hunting from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife for $27.50, and a $5 waterfowl stamp, a $25 federal duck stamp, and a $2 Harvest Information Program certification for a total of $59.50. Canada goose hunting is only permitted seasonally in New Jersey. Hunters can take up to three geese a day during the current season, which runs through Jan. 10.
Total: $59.50 to $1,199.94, plus shipping.
Day 7: Seven swans-a-swimming
Get ready to file a loan application.
Murray McMurray Hatchery out of Webster City, Iowa, sells male-female pairs of yearling mute swans — white, with an orange and black bill — for $2,025.
Larger, black-billed trumpeter swans fetch $3,750 for a breeding pair. Both species only come in pairs and shipping eight costs $2,040.
Good news: the giant white swan FUNBOY pool floats of Taylor Swift circa 2015 fame are now on sale for $75 each (from $99). The Los Angeles-based company will ship seven for free. Inflate the birds by exhalation, take them to a local lake, and throw them in.
Total: $525 to $17,040.
Day 8: Eight maids-a-milking
Trust that you should not call a local housekeeping service and ask them for help milking cows. The conversation will not go well.
Homesteader’s Supply of Sparta, Tennessee, however, will sell you eight portable “milk maids,” with 35 gallon stainless steel buckets and 1.5-horsepower motors for $14,276 plus shipping. Then, you need some cows.
The Fulper Family Farmstead near the Delaware River in Lambertville has cows. The farm also offers tours on select Saturdays that allow visitors to see cows being milked. The cost is $14 per person. Bobolink Dairy in Milford also hosts tours most Saturdays and Sundays for $5.
Total: $5 to $14,276, plus shipping
Day 9: Nine ladies dancing
Off-off Broadway productions garner an average of $420 per actor per performance rate, according to a New York Innovative Theatre Foundation survey.
A bit steep? According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly rate of pay for dancers in the North Jersey metro area was $23.46 per hour in 2016. At a slightly elevated price point, nine ladies dancing for 60 minutes would cost about $216. Procure their services via a free ad or two on dancenj.org. Maybe avoid craigslist with requests for “dancing ladies.”
For a professional performance, call Andy Chiang at Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company of Fort Lee. Chiang said he could help arrange nine female dancers for an hour at a minimum cost of $200 to $250 per performer on as little as two to three days’ notice.
North Jersey’s many dance academies may also be able to help arrange a performance for significantly less, he added.
Total: $216 to $2,250.
Day 10: Ten lords-a-leaping
About five years ago, the Sacramento Kings basketball team sold for $534 million. Forbes magazine now places the value at nearly $1.1 billion, which includes the contractual rights to 17 constantly-jumping Kings.
If there’s an off chance you can’t afford an NBA team, consider hiring a troupe of male dancers to entertain. Using the mean rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a free online add, that gift could cost about $235 per hour.
Or, call back Chiang. Through his contacts at Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, which will be performing at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in February and March, Chiang said he can get 10 male dancers to leap around your North Jersey venue for an estimated base price of $2,000 to $2,500.
Total: $235 to $1.1 billion.
Day 11: Eleven pipers piping
What’s better than eleven pipers piping? Eleven bagpipers piping.
West Milford’s Claddagh Pipe Band is a grade four pipe band affiliated with the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. The band won sixth place in its class, and third in piping, at the 2017 North American Championship at Maxville, Ontario, Canada but is not too big to play your local event, said Kristy Smolinski, band secretary.
Smolinski said she can send 11 pipers to play and march at the North Jersey venue of your choice for the band’s parade fee of $1,500. Two months’ notice is requested.
You could always take a chance with online ads for musicians. Federal statistics put the hourly wage in this area as the highest around with a mean of $53.30.
Total: $586.30 to $1,500.
Day 12: Twelve drummers drumming
This could probably be done with some buckets, drum sticks and a dozen friends or internet-sourced musicians at a mean cost of $53.30 an hour. But it has been a long 11 days.
Good thing the Claddagh Pipe Band also has drummers. A dozen can show up to your selected venue, kilts and all, for the band’s $1,500 parade fee, Smolinski said.
Total: $639.60 to $1,500.
Total for all 12 days of gifts: $4,082.55 (plus shipping) to $1,100,055,736.09 billion, plus shipping, fees.
Holidays: 7 hilarious games to play with family on Christmas Eve
Gifting: Want to support Paterson teacher’s Christmas gift project? Here’s how
Cooking: Prepare for the holidays with the help of an award-winning chef
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