Butchering a Duck

This post contains some graphic pictures. If you are squeamish or there are kids you’d prefer not viewing them please check out a different post.

After three days of Stu beating up on the other two ducks I decided today was the day he had to be butchered. He was definitely big enough and Penguin and Spot had signed a petition to get Stu out of the tub. Stu bullied them and wouldn’t even let them get their share of the food. It was time to get started on butchering a duck!

This Pekin duck will be butchered for stew

I have to admit I was up all night the night before. It wasn’t going to be easy to butcher Stu. Ducks are more intelligent than chickens (not that being smarter than a chicken is a claim to fame) and Stu had personality. I have never butchered an animal without feeling gratitude for it giving us food and sorrow at the taking of its life. But these ducks were brought home to be meat and Stu was making life very unpleasant for Spot and Penguin.

The weather was great for butchering (in the high 50’s) and I would normally do the whole job outside. Unfortunately, my hands were giving me a lot of trouble so we decapitated the duck outside and I finished everything else inside.

I didn’t get as many pictures as I had originally planned because it’s hard to butcher and photograph at the same time and Mr. Comfortable was avoiding the kitchen.

Stu was a tricky duck in the end. I put him in a contractors garbage bag which should have been tough enough to stand up to his nails and also too thick for him to wriggle through. It should have been. I cut a hole in the corner of the bag and had Mr. Comfortable hold it open. I grabbed Stu and stuffed him, head first, into the bag.

Instantly he managed to both scratch tears in the bag and push his chest partly through the hole. I had to bundle him up in the bag like I was swaddling him. I knew these ducks weren’t used to being handled but Stu really didn’t like the idea of being held. As I struggled to hold on to him I briefly thought about just shooting him right there in the bathroom but it would scare the other ducks, give the dogs heart attacks, and Mr. C would probably have objected.

Since Mr. Comfortable had made it very clear he wanted nothing to do with what I’m sure he considered duckacide I was worried about how I’d hold the duck and swing the axe. Clearly Stu wasn’t going to be one of those birds that would lie quietly awaiting his fate. But my wonderful (if very nervous and sad) husband told me he’d cut Stu’s head off if I would hold the duck. I decided Mr. C probably wouldn’t execute me and run off with the duck so I pinned Stu to the log and let Mr. C swing away.

As soon as the duck was decapitated I sent Mr. C into the house to get a bucket. As a city boy I was pretty sure he didn’t know the bird would continue to move after his head was removed from his body. I didn’t want to have to revive Mr. C if he saw a zombie duck flapping around. My timing was perfect. Stu stopped moving right before Mr. C got back with the bucket.

Duck decapitated and ready to dress out

Once I’d hung the bird over the bucket to bleed out a bit it was time to move inside. I’d covered the table with plastic and had my knives ready. The bucket went next to the table so I could drop everything I wasn’t keeping in it for easy disposal. Keeping Remy and Henry away from the bucket and the bird wasn’t as hard as I expected. One good holler and they decided to watch from a distance.

Since this bird will be duck stew I didn’t worry about plucking it. I simply cut through the skin, starting at the neck and peeled feathers and skin back together.

Skinning a duck means no plucking!

The trachea was visible next to the neck but it, along with all the internal parts is removed after the skin.

Butchering a duck is easy

I cut the feet off just to make the final steps of skinning it easier. And since the wings have very little meat on them I just removed them by breaking the bone and cutting the tendons. The duck feet can be saved for making duck stock but I’m not planning on making any so I just threw the feet away.

Duck feet can be used to make duck stock

Once the bird was mostly skinned I could clearly see the body cavity. It’s crucial not to nick the intestines so I made a cut wide around the vent (the part from which it excretes waste). I pinched the vent and carefully pulled the internal organs out of the cavity.

When butchering a duck the internal organs slide out easily

The yellow fat membrane is cut to allow the organs to be removed easily.

It’s also important not to tear or cut the bile duct which is attached to the liver. And the heart, lungs, trachea, and kidneys will almost definitely have to be pulled out separately.

Once the bird is emptied I rinsed it and cut off as much of the remaining skin as I could. There’s a lot of silver skin (just like pork tenderloin) on a duck and the skin is tough!

After the duck was rinsed I removed the breasts, all the meat from the drumsticks, and from the back. Ducks don’t yield as much meat as you might think looking at one so I cut every bit of meat I could from the carcass. I had to remove the tendons as I came across them and also had a few feather shafts to cut out.

I was going to make duck stew right away but I think I’m going to give Mr. C time to stop thinking of it as Stu and remember it was meant to be dinner.




Save on Cleaning Supplies

I posted this very early on in The Comfortable Coop’s life but with the holidays coming up I thought it was a good time to re-post it. We all want our homes clean for Christmas but we have better things to spend our money on than detergents and equipment. These ways to save on cleaning supplies may really help!

Save Money on Cleaning Supplies with this list!

We all want to have clean homes and these tips will help you save on cleaning supplies. Don’t waste money when a cheap alternative is available. Save that money for something you really want

  • Soft, white socks are great for dusting and can be washed and reused unlike paper towels or those dusting cloths that require a handle.
  • Use a pillowcase to clean ceiling fan blades. Slip the pillowcase over the blade and slide along the length of the blade. When you get near the end of the blade be sure to hold the pillowcase carefully. You can take it outside, turn it inside out and shake the dust and dirt off. Finish by laundering the pillowcase as usual. You’ll save money by not buying those fancy wands and dusters made just for fans.
  • Save money on garbage bags by breaking down boxes and crushing bottles and jugs before throwing them away. They’ll take less space and you’ll use fewer bags. *Rinse milk jugs before crushing and cap them after crushing to eliminate that spoiled milk smell in your kitchen bin.
  • Don’t buy products meant to remove hard water build up from faucets and shower heads. Slip a rubber band over the plumbing you want to clean. Pour white vinegar in a plastic bag and slip it over the faucet or showerhead. Tighten the rubber band so the bag doesn’t slip off. Let the fixture soak for several hours or overnight. Don’t bother adding baking soda in spite of what you may have read online. Combined the two make a dramatic show of foaming and bubbling but the reality is that you’ll end up with mostly water. It’s because baking soda is a “basic” and the vinegar is acidic.
  • Paper napkins are generally cheaper than paper towels. Don’t waste money using paper towels to wipe your mouth. Use napkins for meals and paper towels for clean-up.
  • Get rid of musty smells in closets with white vinegar. Cut slits or punch a few holes in the lids of plastic containers (like the ones from the deli) and fill the container with white vinegar. Place the container inside the closet and leave for a day. Keep closets smelling fresh afterward by partially filling another container with holes in the lids with baking soda.
  • Vacuum the back and the space beneath the refrigerator at least once a month. Dust clings to the condenser coils and can cause your refrigerator to overheat. Sometimes a quick vacuuming can get it working again but sometimes it means the refrigerator must be replaced.
  • When you use your electric hand mixer and other small, motorized appliances be sure to clean the vents afterward. It’s the same principle as the refrigerator. If the vents of your mixer are clogged with cake batter there’s no airflow and the motor overheats and burns out.
  • Replace spray window cleaners with a little Dawn® dish detergent and a few drops of Rain X® in hot water. Use a soft cloth to apply the mixture and a squeegee to finish. Water and dirt will roll off the exterior of windows and, used on mirrors in the bathroom, condensation will do the same keeping everything clean longer.
  • Clean your stove burners with ammonia. Just place the burners in a bag with ¼ cup of ammonia and leave them overnight. Don’t worry if the burners aren’t covered; the fumes do all the work. Do not mix the ammonia with any other cleaner and thoroughly rinse the burners before putting them back on the stove.
  • Don’t throw that last little bit of dishwashing detergent out. Sure, it’s a pain to get it to pour and turning the bottle upside down can result in a leak that’s a nightmare to clean up but you can use the end of the bottle. Pour a little hot water in the nearly empty bottle and swish it around. Then pour the resulting liquid in an empty pump bottle, the kind in which expensive hand soaps come. The result is a soap you can use when you need a quick hand wash.
  • Before buying vacuums or other cleaning equipment go to the library and read the latest Consumer Report issue covering that appliance. You can also check their Year End Report. You could potentially save hundreds of dollars and get a much better product for less.


Ducks in the Tub

Mr. Comfortable went to our oldest son’s house for Thanksgiving and on Saturday, before we headed back home, I went with my son, Paul, to pick up a couple of ducks. His friends got an unexpected brood from an unexpected dalliance between one of their Pekin ducks and one of the Black Swedish ducks. And it was the mallard that sat on the nest! Because we got home late Saturday and I was tired and more than a bit sore I didn’t want to do much. So the ducks (three instead of two) got rinsed off instead of bathed and now I have ducks in the tub!

Ducks are delicious but right now they're in my tub!

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In an Irish Family – Mama & the Burglar

I’ve written about my family and their Irish tempers but I haven’t mentioned their courage. My family, and I believe most Irish families, are really brave! And Mama was shockingly brave considering she was a tiny woman. She is a testament to the courage of Irish women everywhere and I’m terribly proud of her! Mama is pictured below with her mother (Nana) and her sister, Mary.

The toughest Irish ladies I ever knew!

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Bam’s Ham & Egg Breakfast Bakes

We love breakfast bakes because they’re easy to make and there are so many ways to create a delicious breakfast. I like to use ingredients I have on hand. This week I made a ham so I had plenty of leftovers to make Bam’s Ham Breakfast Bakes. I called this Breakfast Bakes because I made two versions so we each got our favorite!

Bam's Ham & Egg Breakfast Bakes in two varieties!

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The Most Wanted Toys for Christmas

Finding the right toy for Christmas can be a real challenge! Sure, kids write to Santa but there are always the surprise toys Santa shows up with that light up your child’s face. This short guide to some of the most wanted toys for Christmas may help you find just the right presents to put under the tree. And just in time for those sales!

Find the Christmas toys your kids want most!


Playskool Sesame Street Love2Learn Elmo (18 months – 4 years) Sings 10 songs, laughs, and plays games and music. Elmo will even call your child by name when you program it into the app!

Love2Learn Elmo will delight your child on Christmas morning and beyond!

Little Tikes Light ‘n Go – 3-in-1 Activity Walker (9 – 36 months) 70+ activities, songs, and sounds in one walker! 3-in-1 jungle-themed activity walker projects colorful fun lights on ground for Baby to chase.
Walker folds down to an activity table and activity panel. Activity Panel Table features a Monkey Slider, Peek A Boo Lion, Spinning Toucan ball that makes fun animal sounds and noises and more! Sit & Play Activity Center: Folds flat for floor play and is also ideal for easy storage.

The Light 'n Go Activity Walker will give your baby months of fun!

Bright Beats Dance & Move Beatbo (2 – 4 years) Beatbo gets his hips moving and head bobbing to dancing movements. Fun, energizing music encourages baby to move around and his games introduce baby to ABCs, colors, counting & more!

Beatbo is a fun, interactive learning toy your child will love!

Think & Learn Code-a-pillar (36 months to 8 years) The wide age range on this toy means the fun will go on and on! Your child gets to program the turns and twists that make this Code-a-pillar go where he wants!

The Think & Learn Code-a-pillar grows with your child for years of playtime fun!

Paw Patrol Zoomer Marshall (3 +) With over 150 real Paw Patrol phrases and sounds and more than 80 interactive missions and tricks, including performing the Pup Pup Boogie and Paw Patrol Theme, your little one will have more fun than he can handle!

Sounds, music, adventure & more all rolled into Paw Patrol Zoomer Marshall!

Star Wars Interactech Imperial Stormtrooper Figure ( 4 years and up) Let the force be with your favorite kids this Christmas!

Let the Force be with your child this Christmas!

Star Wars Rebels Electronic Duel Darth Vader (4 years and up) For every Jedi there’s a Darth Vader and now your child can control this arch-villian!

Your child will be the Jedi this Christmas as he battles Darth Vader!

Hatchimals – Hatching Egg – Interactive Creature (5+) Your child will help Hatchimals hatch and then teach them to walk, talk, dance, play games, and more. This is a toy that will keep kids engaged for a long time!

Hatchimals are the adorable interactive toy that your child teaches!

DreamWorks Trolls Hug Time Poppy (5+) Sings songs and knows 25 phrases. She’s interactive with matching light up bracelets!

This Christmas give your child a Troll to love!

Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track Set (5 +) More than 16 feet of track that includes hairpin turns, motorized boosters and a giant crash zone your kids will have plenty of crashing fun!

Hot Wheels and crashing good fun will make Christmas morning fun and exciting for your child!

Operation Spongebob Edition (6 +) You remember the original Operation. Now your kids can play with one of their favorite characters!

This Christmas introduce your child to the game you loved in the new Operation Spongebob Edition!

Nerf N-Strike Elite Strong Arm and Dart Refill Pack (6 +) Your child can imagine fighting off bad guys and being the hero in their own imaginary tales! Soft darts make this toy safe for even indoor play!

Starting this Christmas your child can be the hero in his own imaginary battles against the bad guys!

Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven Baking Star Edition (8 +) You probably had an Easy Bake Oven when you were a kid but this beautiful Star Edition is something your child will cherish!

This Christmas give your budding chef the Easy Bake Star Edition and watch her star shine!

Air Hogs, Thunder Trax RC Vehicle (8+) Transforms from a tank to a boat with the push of a button and handles every terrain including sand, mud, snow, and grass!

Air Hogs, all terrain, all fun!

Edu Science Deluxe Crystal Growing Kit (8 +) Delight your budding scientist with this crystal growing kit. Your child will be amazed at the wonderful, colorful crystals they can grow!

This Christmas give your budding scientist a Crystal Growing Kit and watch the magic happen!

SELFIE MIC Music Set (8 – 15 years) The perfect combination of selfies and music!

Music and selfies are the perfect Christmas gift for your pre-teen or teen!

Rubik’s Cube Game (12 and up) If your child enjoys a puzzle get him the ultimate puzzle game!

 Your puzzle-loving kid will love you this Christmas when you give him the most intriguing puzzle ever!



10 Cute & Easy Thanksgiving Treats

We’re going to take a trip this Thanksgiving and spend the holiday with our older son and his family. He’s got four kids so Thanksgiving treats are high on my list of things to make. These 10 Cute & Easy Thanksgiving Treats are sure to please the kids at your Thanksgiving table, too!

10 Cute & Easy Thanksgiving treats to make for your guests!

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