Although I can't say the butchering part of butchering day is ever pleasant, we did have a fantastic, hard-working, fun crew to do the job yesterday and things could hardly have gone better.
First was to gather the geese and ducks to be butchered. The above cage contained three geese and a couple of the Muscovy ducks. The remainder of the ducks were in another cage.
We've never used killing cones before but after our chicken butchering a few weeks ago, we decided we'd like to give them a try. We gave directions for their construction to our daughter and she made two samples of them . . . a larger one for geese and a smaller one for ducks and/or chickens. Instead of hanging the cones on a tree, inserting the bird head down, stunning the bird on the back of the head and then making slits on each side of the neck to kill and bleed them out, we decided the quicker and more humane way would be to use an ax. The way we did it required two people but worked out really well and we still used the cones.
The bird was put into the cone, the person at the front put the head of the bird between two large nails which had been pounded into the stump, the person at the back held the bird firmly in the cone. Our ax was very sharp, nicely weighted and did the job every time with one quick blow.
Then the cone with bird in it was hung by a grommet (put in the larger end of the cone for this purpose) on a nail in a tree until the flapping stopped.
The bird was next extracted from the cone and hung by the feet on a rod between two trees to finish bleeding out. The cone was then reused for the next bird.
We had a wonderful, handy-dandy scalding barrel that our Good Neighbor D contributed to the operation. A small barrel sat on top of a gas burner and held the water at the right scalding temperature. The only addition we need to make is some kind of a weight to keep the bird totally submerged. Here our daughter is using a birch log to keep the bird from popping up out of the water. She did an excellent job as chief scalder which made plucking the birds so easy.
This was the craziest thing . . . Tucker did not like this bird (waiting for its turn in the scalder) lying on the ground. It was dead so he thought it should be buried. He worked very diligently using his nose to push gravel up onto the body to cover it.
Our daughter starting to work the bird on our old (but so efficient) plucker.
It doesn't take long to get the majority of the feathers off of each one.
Then the detail plucking took over. Don't know why this poor bird was getting attacked by the three guys but they made short work of it.
Until it was time for our daughter's guy to start the gutting process, he and I worked at the detail table.
Good Neighbor D with the biggest Muscovy.
We weren't knee deep in feathers but it came close to ankle deep!
After each bird was plucked clean, it was submerged in cold well water while waiting to go to the gutting table manned by the three guys. Above Papa Pea is working on one of the geese. Note the huge amount of goose fat in the dish. All the birds had quite a bit of fat on them, a lot of it right under the skin. I guess they all had put on their winter insulation.
The tally for the day. Three geese on left, then the six male Muscovy ducks in the middle, and the three Cayugas on the right. The Muscovies look almost as big as the geese. Our geese are the Pilgrim variety, though, chosen for their smaller size and calm disposition.
This morning, before the kill cones were stored away until our next butchering date, our daughter suggested she take a picture of her "cone head parents." (Picture taken in the garage, hence the decor.) Silly thing was when she was ready to snap the picture, she said, "Smile!" And we both did.
12 minutes ago