Graduation Day – part 2

*Disclaimer: This post deals with the slaughter and butchering of animals. If you don’t want to know about it, don’t read any further. You’ve been warned.

You are probably reading this and expecting to hear an expert explanation of how to properly go about processing ducks. I’m going to start off by disclosing that I am no expert and this is not an instructional article. I am simply recounting my experience.

This was not my first time killing an animal. I am also a hunter. There is quite a difference between shooting a wild animal from a distance and chopping the head off of an animal that you personally raised. In both situations though, your responsibility is the same: to ensure that the animal has as quick and painless a death as you can give it.

This was, however, my first time processing ducks. I had read about it, watched videos about it and was fairly sure I could do a good job of it. When it came time to kill the ducks, I took them one at a time to the chopping block and cut their heads off with one blow of the hatchet. I then strung them up by the feet to allow the blood to drain from their bodies.

The next step was to scald each duck in a pot of hot water for a minute or two to make plucking easier. Two of the ducks were easy to pluck. They came clean of feathers with very little effort. The other three were not so easy. They were of an age where they were between their juvenile and adult plumage. This meant that they had all of their juvenile feathers, which came out easily, and their adult feathers were just beginning to grow in. These feathers caused me such frustration that after the first of the three were plucked, I decided to simply skin the remaining two.

The carcasses were then chilled in ice water before moving on. Removing the oil glands and the innards was next and took almost no time, especially when compared to plucking. The feet were then removed. Each bird then got a thorough cleaning with cold water and went into a fridge for chilling overnight. The next morning I packaged each duck in a large ziplock bag, and used a sink full of water to push all of the air out of the bag in lieu of a vacuum sealer. Then they went into the freezer.

All told, it took me way longer than it should have. This is something that I am not eager to do again soon. I would really benefit from some instruction and having a proper setup. I’m very glad that my business model does not include raising meat ducks that I process myself for two reasons.

One: I’m not good at it and it was very tiring.
Two: I’m not good at it and it took me too long to do. I would either have to charge way more than anyone would pay for the quality of my work or sell for far less than my time is worth.
Tonight we will be eating one of the ducks. We will see if all of the effort was worth it. In all honesty, we have never eaten duck before. We fell in love with the eggs which led us to raising our own ducks, but the meat has never been something that Trisha or I have had occasion to try. It’s a week of firsts, I guess.

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