Sunday, August 14, 2011

Duck Dinner

Friday night we had our first duck dinner.  We marinated it and grilled it.  It was pretty good. We each had a breast and felt it was plenty.  The next day we each finished off a thigh/leg piece.  I'm still not sure it's worth all the work to raise and butcher them for so little meat.  If we do, we'll raise a larger breed for meat, like Whitey, an Appleyard.  We'll have to keep thinking about it.

DUCK MARINADE FOR GRILLING
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tblsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
2 Tblsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Mix together and marinate duck pieces at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Now We Are Six

Here are the remainder of our flock, six happy ducks.  I'm not sure if they miss their friends, or wonder where they went.  This morning they were reluctant to come out of the house, then when I tried to walk them out to the big yard they didn't want to go.  A couple of them ran back into the paddock and I had a hard time herding them out the gate.  Maybe they thought they would never come back.  They'll get over it.  This afternoon they are sitting peacefully together under a tree.

I cleaned the duck house and pool this morning.  Hopefully we won't have to do that quite as often with fewer ducks.  They've begun their first molt and are already losing the feathers they just got.  Seems unfair in a way.  Today I noticed the feathers that are falling out are getting bigger.  Sad.  But when the new feathers grow, they should be more colorful, so that will be fun.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

D-Day (Drake Day)

Today was Drake Day.  Tim and a friend butchered four of the drakes.  I wasn't watching, so will spare the details unless Tim wants to add a post on that.  All went well for a first time.  Probably we will try one of them for dinner tomorrow after aging overnight.

After all the work, I hope it's good! They're awfully small, and the two of us probably won't get more than one meal out of them.  They were around 4-4.5 lbs alive, and 1.5 lbs cleaned and ready to cook.  A lot of that is bone and back parts that will probably go into soup stock.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Boy Blue

As I mentioned in the August 1 post, we’ve been planning to butcher the drakes and are making plans to do so this tomorrow.  Tim has a friend who is a hunter, who will come help Tim learn to skin and clean the ducks.  It’s time to decide which drake we will keep for breeding.

Gimpy Blue
A few days ago, I picked up one of the drakes out in the yard, and he was so calm in my arms, we decided he’d be the one to live.  We tagged him to keep track of him, and it happened to be a blue tag.  We’ve been calling him Blue Boy, Boy Blue, or just Blue.   A couple of days ago, Blue had a little mishap.  The ducks had been in the garden area, and at feeding time I was herding them up the path when Blue fell off the brick wall, to the left of the tall grape vine, and landed in the plants.  He got himself out, went to the patio, and managed to get himself up the brick wall to the right.  I was surprised he could get up there.  He flapped his wings and kind of crawled up at the same time.

Unfortunately, he was limping after that!  Now we call him Gimpy.  His limp has gotten better, but he still trips a lot, especially when the group is traveling fast.  We think it’s best not to keep a lame duck, so poor old Gimpy will have to meet his fate with the others.

Here’s one last shot of 10 ducks enjoying their pool.  Soon there will only be 6.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hornworms

Hornworms
I found a hornworm looking thing wandering across the concrete, and thought, "Oh, no!"  I looked around on the tomato plants and didn't see more worms or any obvious damage, so I was puzzled.  I expected to find some tomato plants defoliated near the top with just stems and leaf spines like I'd seen a couple of years ago when I found the nasty worms.

Defoliated grapevine



Later, Tim hollered "What happened to the grape?" and one of our grape plants was COMPLETELY defoliated.  Not one leaf left!  We looked at the others (we have three grape plants) and found a few more of the creepy worms.  We picked them off, sprayed some neem, and will keep watching for them.  I'll also be spraying the tomatoes with neem and hope that keeps them away.

Where do these things come from???

These grape vines are being grown tall to grow overhead on a trellis that is not yet built.  It will be a roof over a small patio area.  Hopefully this poor grape has not met its fate, and will survive this ordeal!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ducks Say "Good Morning"

The latest morning routine is to come out of the house with wings flapping.  I don't know if it's just to stretch and enjoy the fresh air, or to say "good morning" to the day, or to say "I want food."  It's cute.  See the video.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Eight Weeks

Eight Weeks Old and "On The Move"
The ducks are eight weeks old today.  They are still a joy to watch, particularly in the pool or when they are out foraging.  They enjoy being out in the "big yard" with all the weeds and grass they can eat.  They no longer get "lunch" from me, they find it on their own, and are now fed only twice a day.

They're getting so big!  I enjoy just watching them and seeing how their feathers tuck up so neatly against their bodies and under the lower feathers that come up from their breast/abdomen.  The feathers are so soft, and the speculum feathers are beginning to turn dark blue.  In the morning when they get out of their house, they stand tall, stretch and flap their wings, which gives us a chance to see how much the wing feathers have grown.  Quite an improvement from the little stubs they had when they were little.

Soon we will be downsizing our flock, by learning to butcher and clean the drakes.  It does seem like messy business, but I think it's right to be more intimately connected to our food sources.  These ducks have been treated respectfully and will be to the end.  I'm still likely to keep Whitey, just because he's the mellowest and most fun to watch.  We're also considering keeping one of the WH drakes for breeding purposes, although we need to think more about that.  If we breed, we'd probably attempt to allow one of the hens to set and hatch the eggs rather than bring them indoors to an incubator.  Don't know.  More research and thinking will be necessary to decide.