We harvested our first duck for Christmas dinner.
^FYI - these two pictured here, are not the ducks we ate - these ones are being kept. Picture is for example of size.
It was an honor to taste it and to share it. It was an honor to have raised it and to have seen it through from start to finish.
No part of processing an animal is easy on the heart, and the Homestead Husband has a big one at that. We love our animals - they live a happy life in our barnyard. They have flock friends, a pond, fresh food and water, freedom to roam, and interaction with adoring neighbors. So it is very difficult to say "it's time". However, this was what we set out to do - we set out to raise healthy animals in a natural and happy environment, to in turn, feed ourselves better quality foods and reconnect with our food in a way that makes us appreciate every bite.
The Homestead Husband on processing ducks:
"You spend time and effort to raise the animal and in a second, you end its life. I had to remind myself repeatedly that this was my job. And that is the duck's job. To provide for the family. It almost became my mantra. I was proud of the fact that I was able to raise, process, and cook a complete animal for a family holiday meal. I also had to remind myself that the duck lived the best life it possibly could. It had free range of the world. It had a pond. It always had fresh water and food available. And it had companions."
To make it a little less difficult we only name the critters we plan to keep - those that go unnamed we don't attach ourselves to as much. We also aim to use every part of the animals we harvest, so along with the meat, we saved all of the down feathers to use in a pillow, and the exterior feathers will be used for various Fancy Feather products (see the General Store page). Being able to use every part, makes it easier knowing we did not waste and the duck did not live or die in vain. It also helps to do the job side by side a fellow farmer - friends can always get you through!
How to Roast Fresh Duck:
Being the grill master that the Homestead Husband is, when ovens were in high-demand on Christmas day, he took to the grill to cook the duck.
It took 2 hours, cooking it at 350 degrees, to get the internal temp to 165 degrees (F). We used a meat thermometer to keep track.
HH cut a crosshatch pattern on the skin of the duck, only going as deep as the fat layer under the skin, but not through the meat. This allows the extra fat to cook out while it roasts.
It was seasoned with garlic, white wine, and lemon juice in the cavity, and salt, pepper, and garlic powder on the outside.
The end result was similar to that of dark meat on a turkey - it was truly delectable - a real treat.