The Last Windrow: An outdoorsman's version of 'The 12 Days of Christmas'

Change the lines and you'll also have a song that I and many of my hunting and fishing counterparts can actually relate to.

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

The price of a partridge in a pear tree has gone up. I read recently that the current value of the items listed in the popular holiday tune, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," has hit a new ceiling. Who would have guessed?

Evidently shipping costs, commodity prices and high musician fees have put a strain on the money belt of givers of those gifts.

According to this report, if you were to purchase the items mentioned in "The Twelve Days of Christmas" today, the grand total would come to a bit over $34,000. Now that's a real Christmas present! A long way from the $2 each of my siblings and I received to do our Christmas shopping many years ago.

In my personal effort to bring costs into line and streamline efficiencies, I have concocted an idea of how, if you're outdoor minded like I am, you might chisel down the dollar amounts and make gift giving more affordable for the average hunter, fisher-person or otherwise outdoor oriented recipient.

Here's my idea of how the song should really go:


  • Instead of a partridge in a pear tree, we substitute "a grouse in a chokecherry tree."
  • Instead of two turtle doves, we insert "two screaming jays."
  • Instead of three French hens (they can be costly and tend to be a bit skittish), we use "three turkeys gobbling."
  • Instead of four calling birds (actually canaries), we try "four honking geese."
  • Instead of five golden rings (gold is really pricey), your outdoorsman might really like "five ATVs." (Sing this loud and long.)
  • Instead of six geese a-laying, we change that to "six pheasants nesting."
  • Instead of seven swans a-swimming, we go for “seven walleyes biting."
  • Instead of eight maids a-milking (maids don't milk anymore anyway), we try "eight deer a-running."
  • Instead of nine ladies dancing (they're all booked this time of year), we go for "nine wardens watching."
  • Instead of 10 lords a-leaping (lords have better things to do these days), we insert "10 bass a-jumping."
  • Instead of 11 pipers piping (they're now in a union, you know), we try "11 duck calls calling."
  • And instead of 12 drummers drumming (they'll be busy at football games), we go for "12 hunters hunting."

Now, sing the tune and substitute my phrases and you will automatically save, in my estimation, around $33,825 and you give a gift that keeps on giving. The words really do work! Who needs 11 pipers piping anyway? You'll also have a song that I and many of my hunting and fishing counterparts can actually relate to.
Of course you will have to pay the going wage and benefits package for the game wardens, and seven walleyes is one over the limit here in Minnesota, so be a little careful with that.

I know this is the time of year to be honoring time-worn traditions, but really - $34,000-plus for 12 gifts you really can't use? Isn't that a bit much?

See you next time. Okay?

John Wetrosky shares this classic The Last Windrow column that was published six years ago.

John Wetrosky - Last Windrow.jpg

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