10 thoughts on “Maple Syrup Nation

  1. Simon St.Laurent

    I have eleven Cayuga ducks right here:


    They’re not that hard to get from hatcheries. I’m guessing that they’re not very interesting to commercial growers because they’re a “dual-purpose” duck, good both for eggs and for meat, but not bred specifically for either. Their beautiful black feathers are also a lot easier to see than the white ones if a tiny bit is left behind during plucking.

    They’ve been a challenge to raise as ducklings, but I think that’s just because ducks grow fast and are really messy. This should settle down as they mature and as I get their permanent housing built. I’d rather not brood them again – I’d much rather breed them and have ducks taking care of ducks.

  2. AZ

    I think Wegmans should consider promoting Wild Rice Nation and start selling American eels of Lake Ontario.

  3. Ellen

    Just out of sheer curiosity Simon… have you actually slaughtered a duck (or chicken) yourself before? or do you have someone do it for you?

    I only ask because, well, I’m wondering how easy that sort of skill is to pick up! (not contemplating it myself, but still interested) My dad grew up on a poultry farm but I never had the heart or guts to ask him any details.

    Al, what do eels taste like? (and please don’t say “like chicken”)

  4. Simon St.Laurent

    I haven’t slaughtered a duck yet – these are only six weeks old, so it’s not time yet.

    I haven’t slaughtered a chicken yet – our layers from last year are still productive.

    I figure the first time will be the hardest, both for the sheer difficulty of killing something and for the tedious challenge of plucking. Experts can do it in 3-5 minutes, but I’m expecting more like 3-5 hours, personally. (There are people who do this, but I don’t think they really want to do one duck or chicken at a time.)

    To keep reminding myself that I’m going to be eating these ducks eventually, I’m reading the Butchering chapter in the Storey Raising Ducks book about once a week, and explored the discussion in my ancient (1964) Joy of Cooking today. They all say different things, so I guess I’ll just have to learn by doing.

    I’m planning on a very simple roast duck for my first time out, and also expect to be collecting lots of duck eggs.

    (Ten was the minimum order of ducks where I got them, and they put in an extra. I think my planned duck area can safely support seven or eight ducks before we get into overpopulation, and we’ve also invested in some electric fence for moving the ducks around the garden.)

    Eventually I’ll be slaughtering some chickens too, though it doesn’t sound too different.

  5. Phil

    Wow, another Upstate (Maple Syrup) v. NYC (Clambake) disconnect–we’re in different food nations. The very northern rim of the state (Wild Rice) is even a third nation.

  6. Ellen

    Simon, check out Life in the Finger Lakes magazine for Spring… they have a recipe for “pan-roasted duck breast with peach and Scotch bonnet chutney.” I’ve never had duck myself, but this recipe almost made me want to look for some at Wegmans and try it.

    and yes, I noticed the three-way split. We just can’t ever win.

  7. Mrs. Mecomber

    Phil: proof that New York State truly is the melting pot state of a melting pot nation!

    My family slaughtered our own chickens from time to time, also squirrel, rabbit, and deer. Self-sufficient living is very much alive and well in Upstate…

  8. KAZ

    We did not like the one laying hen we slaughtered and ate, probably because we’re used from childhood to super-chubby store bought, not to gangly chickens who run around the yard and have a brutish sex life. However, we have successfully raised Cornish game hens (in the store, you buy tiny ones that are about 3 weeks old) to semi-maturity (maybe 8 weeks or a bit older) and taken a mess to the butcher at once; they get to be oven-roaster size in no time, having been bred for speedy growth. Then we keep the carcasses in the freezer and grill or roast them all year long. Not only that, but it’s just impossible to become attached to Cornish hens the way we often do to laying hens and the way I think I might to ducks–they’re just gross.

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