Sunday, October 26, 2008

How Not To Pluck A Duck

WARNING: Pregnant and nauseous or the squeamish should not read this!

Lately some of my blog posts have been sparked by reading some of my favorite blogs. Today's post has been sparked by Fluffy. She mentioned hearing the guns of the duck hunters early in the morning and late in the evening causing my mind to drift way back in time...

John used to take me duck hunting with him. We would get up before sunrise and equipped with a thermos filled with aromatic coffee we would head out on our adventure. I remember being out in that crisp and fresh autumn air out in the countryside. We would sip our steaming mugs of coffee and wait for the sun to peek over the horizon. We would wait for the ducks. The ducks never seemed to come. We never did get a duck. That is probably a good thing. I don't like watching animals die. I am not adverse to eating a duck. I just don't like to see them die and probably John understood that and made sure I came home happy.

One day in the fall of the first year we were married John went hunting with some of his duck hunting friends. No girls were on this trip so they actually did kill ducks. He brought the ducks home for me to clean and pluck. Yup! He said "Here you go dear wife...pluck the ducks" I thought I could do this. I had recently been out at his parents farm and had attended the annual family chicken plucking festival. Watched and observed the whole show and even helped pluck and clean. It was a real hands on experience. I didn't want to eat chicken for a little while after that but I was told that was a very natural reaction. Anyway...I had learned about chicken anatomy and figured that I could easily transfer that to ducks. They are very similar. I put the pot on the stove to boil some water. When the water had reached the appropriate temperature, I dunked the duck and gave it a good soak to loosen the feathers. Feeling very pleased with myself I removed the duck and proceeded to pluck. At this point everything went very wrong. The feathers did not come easily out of the bird like they did with chickens. What the heck! I worked and worked on that bird. Sweat gathered on my brow. My tongue hung out of my mouth as I plucked that bird feather by feather. I had to use tweezers for a lot of them. The whole time that bird stank. What a mess of steamy bird stink and sticky feathers and sweat! I persevered and finally got to the point of dissection. At this point my stomach started to roll and heave. Tears welled up in my eyes. My hand shook as I began. I made a quick judgment call and quickly removed the breast meat and pitched the rest of the duck. Hahaha! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. All that work for two tiny breast fillets. I left the whole mess of duck feathers, dirty duck dunking water, tweezers and the rest of the intact dead now stiff ducks in the basement and took my meager bit of meat up to the kitchen.

When John came home he asked if we were going to have duck for supper. I reminded him that it was inadvisable to eat the meat the same day it was butchered. I asked him if he would be a sweet heart and go into the basement and clean up the mess I had made. A short time later he returned upstairs. I could see it in his face! He was working as hard as he could not to laugh. "Tell me" he said. "You did not try to scald the feathers off of that duck" He could hold it back no longer. Laughter rolled out from somewhere deep inside his at that time flat and six packed belly. "Did you not know that ducks are oily birds? Water and oil do not mix. Did you not know that you pluck ducks dry?" At that point I did what any wife would do. I threw something at him. I was thankful that I did not try to dissect that bird. Who knows what would have happened. Their insides are probably all screwed up too. From that time forth it became a rule that he field cleaned the birds before he brought them home.

Just a short note to Becky if she managed to read this whole excapade: At this time I was pregnant with you. You must admit that I had a lot of stamina. Maybe in hind sight, I was slightly insane, but WOW! Incredible stamina. I don't know how I did not puke.


Momisodes said...

Oh man.. I had to FORCE myself beyond "pluck the ducks."

I would have cried before he even left the house!

Jientje said...

I think November is your season Christine, never read funnier posts than last year on Nablo, and this one! Loved it!
I once had a close encounter with a duck like that too, but I doubt if I can write a post like that!

Fluffy said...

I am so glad there are no hunters in my family. There is no way anyone would bring a dead animal to me and expect me to clean it. And that includes fish. I am all for the 'You caught it, you clean it' policy. 'And do it before you come home.' Maybe that's why my ancestors never went any further than the Chesapeake Bay.

Eve said...

I had my mom (and my dad both in attendance the first time I ever cleaned a duck. O don't remember ever plucking a duck. I remember watching mom do it. Some of the guys my dad worked with loved to hunt with their sons. They got a lot more birds than they could use so started bringing them to us. At first mom plucked, then she skinned as that is faster, finally she skinned and removed the breast and let the rest of it go. She browned the breasts and bottled them. I remember eating some really good noodle soup made with bottled duck or pheasant breast.

Sue said...

That was hilarious Chris! I love the way you write. I had never heard that story before. I think I would have done the same thing.

The Invisible Mo said...

LOL...that was pretty good. I had no idea that you pluck ducks without plunging them. But then, I would have looked at anyone bringing me ducks to pluck with a look that would have dropped them dead, haha.
I went duck hunting with my father once. We sat in a blind in the water wearing waders and waited for what seemed like forever, for nothing to ever happen. Then on the way home he killed a squirrel. He nailed it to the tree by its tail and skinned it, something that seemed almost normal at the time. My father hunted all the time and we were very used to eating game, but thank goodness I never had to pluck anything. I can barely stand to handle chicken as it is. I have already told my mom that she cannot die because I need her here to cut up my chickens when I buy them whole. (she's a farm girl)

Bientje said...

I think I would have flung the duck right into his face! Very very funny story and such very good writing! I really love your writing Christine!