*DISCLAIMER*DISCLAIMER*DISCLAIMER*The following post contains images of ducks being humanely butchered. If you are sensitive to the killing of animals or have children around whom you don't want seeing images of dead animals - please do not read this post.
Okay - if you're still reading, i hope you will find this post informative. I found the experience to be very enlightening and it truly helped me to better understand the food chain and what really goes into the practice of preparing meat for the dinner table.
Austin Urban Farmers Market where we both have booths on Saturday mornings (10 - 3). I've been training Pocket to herd sheep and learned that she has ducks that Pocket might practice on, so we scheduled a date. Instead of working the ducks, however, i simply introduced Pocket to obedience training around crazy animals (ducks, geese, dogs, ferel hogs, horses, you name it) and agreed to help Germaine process 4 ducks for her Thanksgiving supper. The whole ordeal took upwards of 3 hours and was not without some mess, cringing, and corgi intrigue.
Here's how we did it:
Each duck was placed upside down in a cone, held securely by quiet helpers and humanely slaughtered with a sharp razor blade to the artery and vein in the neck. Two passed quickly, two held out for almost 10 minutes with some thrashing and splattering of duck blood. Good thing i wore old pants and sneakers. Killing poultry in this fashion is one of the most humane methods: no unneccesary violence via head chopping, they're squeezed in the cones securely which makes them feel comfortable in their final moments, the blood can drain into buckets placed below and comes out fairly quickly helping to speed their transition into death.
|I held the duck to the right and caught this shot while Milo helped Germaine with the second|
Once dead the birds are dipped in scalding hot water and placed in a plucking machine. We had the water a bit too hot which melted some of the skin causing unsightly damage to the finished duck. The feathers were difficult to get out as well: the water was so hot that we had to take them out before all the feathers got completely wet. This was my least favorite part: smelly, wet feathers are just plain gross. I have a problem with wet things: tissues, paper towels, and feathers, apparently.
|A large potato masher comes in handy|
|This plucking machine really freaked me out.|
|As you can see - this duck did not lose enough feathers in the machine|
|Chilled and ready to be processed|
|Poultry feet make great stock - lots of gelatin!|
|Ready for Thanksgiving dinner|
I wrote this post because i think it is important to remember where your food comes from: if you eat meat, it was once alive and had to die for your supper. There's blood involved, mess, and too often pain and fear. Remember that, respect that, and don't take that meat for granted: choose local if possible, humanely raised and butchered meat for your supper table. Just because you may choose not to think about where that meat comes from, or how it was treated when it was a living animal, doesn't make the frequent mis-management and disrespect of meat animals any less prevalent. Only consumers can change the market.
Make the choice.
Feel good about the food you eat and where it comes from.
This post also found at Simple Lives Thursday