Spring has made everyone on the farm a bit frisky. We’ve never had two drakes going into spring and it turns out, it is a bad, bad, bad idea. One drake can “satisfy” up to fourteen ducks. They can actually mate females to death. This past fall, we were unclear if one bird was a male or female so we kept it. We called it Hermes and well, he finally matured. Turns out it, it was him. Going into this spring, we have one female goose, three females ducks, and two drakes.
The two times we have dispatched our extra drakes, I have had friends come over to do the dispatching in the fall. They kill them, I process them. We have known that we need to take care of the extra drake and I was going to ask a friend like usual. However, as I was headed to work on Thursday, ready to ask someone, I had an epiphany. We have 22 duck eggs in the incubator. While we raise them for eggs, we have to do something with the drakes. If we are going to continue to raise ducks, we need to be able to dispatch them ourselves.
I shared this with my husband. He was not thrilled but he agreed that we needed to do this. We agreed we would do it on Sunday since he would be on his 48hr. shift Friday and Saturday (his new work schedule as May 1st – 48 hours on, 96 hours off). This way we were not rushed.
Today was the first day in the 60Fs so I worked on moving my starts outside in shorts and flip-flops. Most of the plants are still in their containers but I did plant the greenhouse (cucumbers, basil, a few flowers, tomatoes, and peppers), a few watermelon and tomatoes in outside containers, plus a flower planter. The rest will have to wait till we get the new garden area ready. I worry that it may not be warm enough yet for them outside but hopefully, I insulated them well enough. They have simply outgrown the space I have inside. They’ll enjoy the natural sunlight and I’ll enjoy the reduced electrical bill. We shall see how they held up tomorrow morning. Maynard also finally discovered the catnip I planted. I didn’t shoo him away since I did plant it for him. Though if he eats it all now, he will not have any come this winter. Though I guess I can simply plant him more.
While gardening, I let the dogs, cat, and birds roam free. I noticed that Serenity (a group of our birds were named after the Firefly series) had a bald patch on the back of her head from constant mating. Then I noticed she was having issues with one of her eyes. I figure also from constant male harassment. So I did it. I found the hatchet, I picked up the younger drake, and I put up the other birds away. We had a moment of calm and then I dispatched him. It was quick. It took me less than one hour from start to having him in the crockpot. This is my favorite way to cook duck. It ends up shredded duck meat which makes excellent tacos.
I will say killing my birds is not one of my favorite parts of farming but it is part of raising poultry. It is also a part I want to continue. I have a hard time buying meat at the store because I worry about the treatment of the animals. I know my birds have had a great life. They are truly free-range. This fall, we will fill our freezers with more ducks. Next summer, meat chickens. Holy shit, new farmer level unlocked! Celebrating with wine and Dr. Who. I hope the ladies will enjoy some peace tonight.