Few adults can remember moments from when they were 3 years old. But Mel Borich well recalls the day when the New Zealand Herald came to visit her grandparents' poultry farm to capture a pre-Christmas moment.

The caption describes how the "unsuspecting birds" at Chick Lodge would soon be succulent centrepieces on Christmas Day roasting dishes; it just doesn't say how afraid the little girl was, who was surrounded by turkeys.

"I don't remember the finer details, I just remember I was quite terrified of the turkeys," says Borich, 32, who works in marketing for the Department of Conservation in Wellington.

"The turkeys were bigger than me - I'd always been scared of them and now my parents and the newspaper wanted to put me in a high chair in the middle of them."

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Perhaps that explains her dislike of turkey meat and why it won't be on the menu this Christmas. "There were two big turkey sheds and there were hundreds in there," she said.

Her mum Gay Fry was standing in the wings with her little brother, 8-month-old Matthew Borich, on her hip as she fended off birds.

A framed copy of the picture was presented to her for her 21st birthday, and now hangs on the wall at home. "I think it's a nice memory because it ties back to my grandparents and their farm."

The farm in Kumeu is still there but both grandparents, Walter and Elizabeth Borich, have died.