HOW TO SLAUGHTER A DUCK, in seven deadly steps
(facilitating our first farm animal-to-table experience)
Parental Discretion Advised:
The photos used to illustrate this story are not for the faint at heart, hardcore vegans, or anyone that is squeamish; and it may not be appropriate for children, considering the slaughter and butchery documented here through explicit photos.
This past week was a momentous one for us at Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms.
Amidst a scene straight out of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation that included family rolling in from Michigan and two sets of grandparents, we not only had our first livestock birth on premises, but also slaughtered our first animals as well.
Whereas the newborn was fairly unexpected, the killing and cooking of the ducks was highly anticipated and enthusiastically planned for.
Originally, we had slated two Muscovy and one Mallard duck to be slaughtered. Ironically, by some sort of fowl play, two of the big white ducks either flew south for the winter, were victims of the local wildlife or were abducted in the middle of the night by the local alien element that New Mexico is well known for.
However, there was no evidence of foul play and no saucer sightings, so inconclusively we’re leaning toward the Escape from Coop Knox theory.
That said, we kept our heads about us and resolutely moved forward with our plans.
Although we had long planned to execute right before Christmas, a family member contracted COVID, which postponed everything for a little more than three weeks.
Preparations included watching several videos on YouTube on how to butcher and slaughter.
The advice distilled included the following seven deadly steps:
1. Inebriate the fowl before beheading them. We did so by soaking some grain in Trader Joe’s Organic Gin.
2. Place the duck in an empty feed bag to restrain its movement upon placing it on the cutting board.
3. Use a sharp hatchet, aim well so you only have to chop once, and don’t cut off your fingers in the process.
4. Hang the headless bodies for a few minutes to drain the blood.
5. Dip the dead duck in boiling water to loosen the first layer of feathers.
6. After the initial plucking, dip the body once again in a vat of hot water and wax, which should be immediately followed by a quick bath in a bucket of ice and water.
7. The final step before prepping it to cook, is to pull out the innards with your fingers.
Although I was prepared and quite willing to swing the axe, Enzo and Sidney insisted on playing the executioner. I relented and thus played a limited role in the canard carnage by pulling out the first live duck by the neck from the holding pen, while Enzo placed body in the bag. I also bore witness to it all while documenting the whole experience.
Based on my peripheral participation in this ghastly process, I would add this recommendation: leave your guilt at the door.
If you can, that is.
For I discovered that merely being an innocent bystander unexpectedly triggered something in my subconscious mind (and heart). I confessed to Enzo and Maddy later that day that each time I picked up one of dogs thereafter, I felt as if I was taking them to the slaughter house.
So, if there’s a silver lining, it’s getting to know how Death must feel, having to carry around that scythe and all, all the time.
Then, of course, there was the gourmet meal had by our extended family that evening as well, not to mention the satisfaction of having facilitated our first very own farm animal-to-table experience.