Wednesday, August 8, 2007

How Hungry?

Still mulling over the link between backyard sustainability and silkies. Over time, I have definitely been getting better at eating our extra roosters and drakes.

I couldn't do it without Mario, my wonderful Italian neighbour and fellow community gardener. Mario is only too happy to come over and help me butcher and prepare the boys. We have an easy way of working - I get everything set up, and one by one, I bring him the boys, which he kills (I am not sure how because we both agree I don't have to watch) and then we set about dipping them in hot water, cutting of the ends, plucking and gutting.

Mario has taught me so much. I like working with him because he is gentle and respectful of the birds and does nothing to scare or stress them unnecessarily. He also loves his own chooks - and this makes a difference, to me at least. And at the end, we split the proceeds. But there are some rules:

1) can't eat anything with a name
2) no matter how delicious they are, it is getting increasingly harder to eat extra boy ducks, because they are so smart!
3) Only eat boys.
4) Don't eat anything you can sell

Generally, I wait until young roosters start waking us up, or after advertising 8 week old ducks in paper, we are left with some adolescent boy ducks who suddenly become fractious and start getting beaten up by Miriam. It is surprisingly easy to sell young drakes, so often I don't have to face that problem.

But, this obsession with Silkies, and the existence of Maurice means that there will eventually be extra Silkie roos. I am sure that it will be no problem selling extra silkie hens, but the roosters may be a problem. So could I eat a silkie- with their black skin, flesh and bones?

How black do you ask? Well, this black:


There is apparently, a whole world of folks who love eating these little fellas. Have a little look here for instance. And apparently they are quite tasty. hmmmm. Perhaps my project for the next little while will be to find some recipes. I will get back to you on this one........


sherd said...

oooh, that's a tricky one. I think after the first one, it'd be ok. Maybe at the start you could use them in something with a dark sauce... and have a candlelit dinner... and then it'd be ok. There's other meat that's pretty dark, like roo f'rinstance. So if you don't think of it as "chicken" but more as a gamey meat, that might give you the push to get you over the psychological hump.

mangoman said...

I guess you will just have to cook it up with something that disguises the colour. Soy sauce would do well and perhaps you could go the whole hog and do it as Thai tucker. Might not matter too much then.

What happens if you skin them? If you did that then you could market it as healthy choice chook.

Having killed my share of livestock I am not normally too squeamish but I am not totally convinced about the killing of silkies - with names. Trade would be better - live that is.

Lucy C said...

This is way out of my league.
My first attempt at killing one of my birds was a complete failure.
I tried to break it's neck but ended up just giving it a nice chiropractic work out!
Had to call my friend's hubby over in his lunch break to finish the job off.
My next experience was much more civilised. I dropped 'Duck' off at the vet and handed over $40 instead.

Lucy C said...

I have been enjoying your blog for a while now.
Can I put a link on mine?

Kirsty said...

I work at a duck processing plant so you would imagine I would be able to do 'it' no worries but If I know the duck, chook, turkey I cant even think about it!! LOL Good Luck!

The Duck Herder said...

Hee hee, hello everyone. It is a bit tricky isnt it! I feel a lot better about eating extra boy chooks only when they start sizzling and smelling DELICIOUS!!!

Prior to that I feel a little bit guilty, and on the verge of vegetarianism, BUT, I reckon it is far superior to butcher my own meat knowing it has been well fed, had heaps of fun and lots of room and siblings to muck around in/with in their short but good little lives. and it helps that home grown poultry tastes just soooo good. sigh.

but I don't feel 100% good about eating my ducks, they look like little babies when they are all naked and plucked! and it will be very interesting to see what happens with any silkie roos I get stuck with. I think it must be better to eat them than just cull them. That seems like such a waste - and then perhaps I "chose" to become addicted to silkies because somewhere, deep down I thought they were so cute and weirdly black fleshed that I wouldnt have to eat them.......

Lucy C I enjoy your blog greatly too, so perhaps I could link to you as well? and Kristy, you need to find yourself a lovely old Italian neighbour somewhere down there! and remember - only name the ones you intend to keep! if there is any chance you might need to eat one, then dont start calling him ANYTHING, dont even look him in the eye!

As always, thank you for your wise words and concidered responces sherdie and mangoman - I feel so understood! I am afraid Mangoman, that those little chookies are black all the way through and out the other side, so skinning may not achieve much - hopefully I have done my line selection so carefully that I will always find a market for the culls!

Lucy C said...

Yes, you can definately link to my blog.
Wish I could take some of your Silkie roos off your hands but I don't think my neighbours would like it.

Rhonda Jean said...

hello duckie. It's quite the dilemma you have there but I'm sure there is a way around it. I'm sure you know that giving animals and birds a good life and a respectful and quick death is the essence of good organic practise.

I don't know if you know of Hugh Fernly-Wittingstall of the River Cottage series. He's a celeb chef in England, but surprise, he's quite intelligent. Anyhow, he had a series on payTV that I used to watch back in the day. It was all about him upping sticks and settling in the wilds of Dorset on a little farm called River Cottage. He wanted to be completely self sufficient in food and got the locals to teach him all he needed to know - including butchering. He struggled with it too but got around it eventually. You can read all about it in his very good cookbook called The River Cottage Cookbook. He talks about butchering versus supermarket in it. I think it might help you.

Lucy, I'll put a link to you on my blog too.

The Duck Herder said...

Thanks Rhonda! That sounds like just what I need!

m said...

Good luck with the eating of your silkies ..I couldnt ....
enjoyed your blog nice to find another aussie one !