My trio of muscovy ducks only produced one duckling this year, and it was a drake. He ate very well for a few months, but the air is growing chilly now and there’s no need to overwinter two big drakes. It was time to harvest him.
I got two great big breast steaks and two nice legs, around five pounds of meat total. Normally I give the feet to the dog, but this year I wanted to see if I could use them. Duck feet are full of collagen and make excellent stock, but it’s best to remove the outer layer of dirty skin before dropping them into your stock pot. It’s actually a fairly simple process.
Rinse off and scrub the feet if they are very muddy, and bring a pot of water to a boil. Submerge the feet for one minute, or until the skin begins to flake off when rubbed. You’ll only be removing a very thin layer, much like a snake shedding their skin. It will smell slightly fishy and the feet will tense up a bit.
Then just peel away. It’s easiest to do while the feet are still hot. Soon you’ll have a little pile of flaky skin and some nice, clean duck feet. Sometimes the outer nail covering comes off as well, but in this case his nails stayed intact. Now they’re ready to pop into the freezer for the next time I make a big pot of bone broth. Can’t wait!
The ducklings have been with us for for almost two weeks now and are settling in very well. Today, much of the coop floor is being excavated by the hard-working boyfriend and we’re going to lay at least a foot of woodchips down. This should help cut down on the mud. Bonus is that all the manure-rich material that was dug out went straight into my tomato and tomatillo beds.
If all goes as planned, we’ll have more Muscovy ducklings hatching out the beginning of July. It’s going to be very ducky around here!
Went to a delightful Bee Club picnic today with my fabulous boyfriend and had my first in-person look at the inside of a working beehive. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being in the center of a buzzing cloud of bees. It shouldn’t feel safe, and yet it does. It’s an amazing calm feeling. I was also the only person to get stung today, right on the top of my head when a bee got stuck in my topknot. In a way it was a relief and there’s an aspect of it that feels almost therapeutic.
I picked up some fantastic items at the fundraiser auction, some perennial broccoli starts and some seed grown, five year old trilliums. The two dozen fresh eggs I donated in a red wire basket were picked up for $10 by a charming Croatian woman who gave me a complete rundown on Linden trees, another hot auction item. Much good food, home-brewed mead and sunburns were enjoyed by all.
We returned home just in time to complete a poultry trade. Two downtown Muscovy ducks and their seven ducklings were dropped off in exchange for one Black Copper Maran hen. Great deal!
Duck social dynamics are so interesting to watch. These new ducks are looking a bit ragged, but they seem very friendly and it will be lots of fun watching them grow up. I love ducks.
“Oh no please, allow me!”
The first livestock I ever got upon purchasing my first house a year and half ago were four little Muscovy ducklings. I was planning to raise them to eventually hatch their own eggs. Unfortunately one morning, as they were nearing laying age, they were all massacred by two roaming neighborhood pitbulls. It was grisly and heartbreaking.
Fast forward to today, I now have the most secure coop on the block and a new pair of Muscovies living safely inside. About a week or so ago I noticed a somewhat larger, waxy, off-white egg in the nest box. Hmm, did I have a chicken with a health issue? I brought the egg inside and was about to research it when I realized… Of course, it’s a duck egg.
YES! I had my first duck egg. Every day there was another one and I dutifully removed any chicken eggs that appeared in the nest, hoping she would sit on the clutch. Well, it turns out that I now have another first, my first broody hen. Obviously it was the Buff Orpington who went broody first, can she tell these eggs have been fertilized or what?
Unfortunately the duck wants to brood her eggs too. So what does that leave us? A duck and a chicken stuffed into the same nest – a fluffed up and hissing pile of poultry.