Friday, January 11, 2013

Poultry in the freezer

As we get closer to our goal of raising all of our own animal foods, spring and fall/early winter are very busy times on the farmlet.  I've been taking pictures, and will try to catch up over the next few days on what's been going on here.

The Green Mile

I admit that I lost count, but at least 25 birds made it to freezer camp this year, and there are about 5 more roosters that are about big enough now to make the trip.  It is an unpleasant task, but one that was normal in most families not that many decades ago.  There was a time when cruelty in the food industry was not an issue for the most part.  Now, sadly, it is rare when an animal used for food has a very happy life and only one bad moment.  If that.  It is pretty quick, really, if done right.  They don't really know what hit them.  

The most insulting part for them is being picked up and carried, and that happens regularly in their lives, for example, when a rooster gets over the fence and into a neighbor's yard and must be retrieved.  You should hear the squawking and complaining!  Those instances are worse for the rooster or duck than freezer camp day, when we are very careful in how we handle the birds and make it as stress-free as humanly possible.

Good tools make things go quickly and smoothly and are worth the investment.

One thing we did this year that was new was to raise 10 ducks.  One thing we learned this year is that you must process ducks at just the right time, as they are shedding feathers, or plucking will be a nightmare task that is just about impossible.  We waited until we didn't see them shedding feathers, as we do with chickens, being duck newbies.  We got 4 ducks into the freezer that day looking like unshaven drunks.  We planned to sell the rest instead of continuing.

 Our ducks in late June.

Then we cooked that first duck.

Who cares if there are feathers left on the duck.  The fat that runs out and fries the bed of coarsely diced root vegetables that the duck is roasting on top of creates flavors that are unmatched in the culinary world.  Then there is the pint of rendered fat left over that can be used to re-create this flavor in future meals of roasted veggies, or to add a lovely flavor to other dishes.  The six remaining ducks stayed in their pasture, unsold.

Meanwhile, my father built this plucker, based on a number of youtube videos.  Do a search for "drill plucker" and you'll find many versions.  This one was built for just a few dollars, using cheap rubber bungees, a bolt, and a pvc end cap.

Dick's Plucker

Good ol' duct tape!

Be sure not to block the vents of the drill with the tape.  I also used a couple of the leftover bungees to secure the drill.  You can also bolt the drill to your table if you'd like, if your drill has a hole for doing this.

This is not the perfect plucker, and you must wear sturdy gloves or get bruised.  But is sure was fun to use!  Dad and I had a contest, with him using the drill plucker while I was hand plucking.  It was pretty close, but my hand plucking was much harder on the hands, so I like using the drill plucker.  For the ducks, it would tear the more tender skin of the female ducks, so use caution, and consider using it for areas other than the more delicate underside of the bird.  It was fine on the roosters, no tearing of the skin at all.

There is a splash zone, however, than anyone who wears spectacles will discover rather quickly.  Ask me how I know.

You don't have to raise your own food to be healthy.  Lots of details in my current course, Foundations of Vibrant Health, starting Jan 28, 2013 via teleconference!


  1. I think ducks might have to be on our list for next year. I keep hearing too many yummy things about them! Can't wait to hear more of your adventures as you get caught up.

  2. We have three left in the freezer, and I hope to put at least one in the smoker as I've heard that smoked duck tastes like....bacon! So we ate 6, I gave one as a special gift to a special lady, and there are 3 left. I will definitely raise ducks again, but now know to process them when I see them shedding feathers. The last six were, and it went rather smoothly.

    If I get enough hens to go broody, I'll probably try to find some fertile duck eggs and let them do the job for me.

    Definitely get a few ducks, FF!