Tuesday, 17 November 2009


If you're easily upset, squeamish or vegetarian, I'd press on to the next blog if I were you.

I cupped my hand around the duck's head, holding its feet tight with my other hand. I lifted the head back and pulled down hard, but not too hard. I felt the neck break.

The flapping that followed - the body's nerves reacting after death - was disconcerting, but I did as I was told, put the wings between my legs and started the laborious task of plucking.

Marcus, our neighbour, had agreed to come and help me 'process' some of our flock of ducks (flock?). We got all the ducks into the stable and, not for the first time in the last couple of years, I found myself having to stop being a big fat Jessie and get on with things.

I'm scared of birds. All that flapping sends me to jelly, but there was nothing for it but to grab a bird, hand it to Marcus who immediately pulled its neck.

Quickly and quietly, we repeated the process four times before Marcus suggested it was time I had a go. Well aware that there could be no practice run, I fetched the sixth duck, Marcus told me exactly how to hold him, I took a deep breath and killed him.

Plucking was a pain. I had plucked one and a half in the time it took Marcus to pluck four, but the six ducks are now hanging up in the little caravan in the barn, waiting to be gutted and put in the freezer, ready for Christmas.

And I'm not about to get all philosophical about the killing - the first time I've dispatched one of my own animals myself. I'm not overly happy about it, nor am I particularly upset. It's part of the job, that's all and, if anything, I'm glad I now know how to do the job very quickly with the minimum of suffering for the bird.

Pass the plum sauce someone.


Lindsay said...

I am scared of birds too! We used to keep chickens and my father and I had lessons on how to dispatch them etc etc. The awful day came and my father wrung one chicken's neck. We had also been informed that a dead chicken is a good thing to add to your septic tank - it adds the necessary bugs to digest the sludge. The chicken was duly dropped into said tank - to our horror it revived - it was not dead after all - we had to climb into the tank to activate a rescue mission - we never dispatched any more birds!

I, Like The View said...

do you ever watch Countryfile on BBC1 on a Sunday evening?

the other day they showed you how to get the breasts out of a game bird, without plucking

(altho, I appreciate with a duck there's more to eat than the breast - plus you want to be able to cook it with all that lovely fat!) (hope you're not wasting all the feathers) (plum sauce - YUM!)

Dave said...

I think Lindsay is challenging you there, Malc, on the 'amusing story involving dead animal' front.

zIggI said...

do you know I was going to say the same thing as ILTV! It seemed such a good idea (unless you're particularly partial to eating skin) and saved all that plucking nonsense.

We have a thing like a pair of pliers for chicken dispatching it's very quick - or so I'm told because I haven't managed to use it myself!

Jimmy Bastard said...

I have a secret fear of chickens. I used to watch the oul fella doing the same as you, and the flapping wings scared me as a bairn.