Ducks and Noodles

Whenever Todd introduces himself to someone  he refers to himself as a “duck farmer”.  Sometimes we get curious looks as to how you can actually “farm” ducks.  I believe it’s an accurate description and one that I’ve taken to using also.  We love ducks.  We’ve grown our flock to over 100.  See, we “grow” our ducks to use for food.  Either by eating eggs from the ducks or the duck itself.  I wish I could say it is an economical alternative, but I’m not sure yet.  We put a lot of our time into the ducks.  And depending on which breed of duck we’re talking about, lots of feed.  Pekin ducks are dependent on you for finding the majority of their food.  Muscovy ducks, on the other hand, are great foragers and they supplement their diet with feed.  All of the ducks look forward to their treats of whole corn and scratch.

Muscovy Duck

Muscovy Duck

Pekin Duck

Pekin Duck

We’ve been busy “harvesting” ducks for the past month or two.  On my last count we were down to 8 Pekins and … okay, I don’t actually know how many Muscovies are left!  We’re trying to decide how many we want to keep over the winter.  I’m pretty sure we will reduce the Pekins down to 2.  I love the temperament of them, but they eat a lot.  The only reason I want to keep 2 is because the one hen is the “sister” of our hand hatched goose baby (I don’t want him/her to be lonely) and the other is Lexie’s favorite 4H hen, Elizabeth.  We have quite a few Muscovy ducks that we have named and want to keep to breed.  We know we will keep only one drake.

Our harvesting window is slowly closing.  Nobody wants to be slaughtering ducks in the freezing cold.  Heck, nobody wants to slaughter ducks at all!  We’ve been culling around 6 ducks each week.  It’s a family affair.  We all know what our jobs are and we work in a production line.  Warning:  some content may not be suitable for children or those with weak stomachs.  Read at your own discretion.  Lexie and I choose the ducks that are to be slaughtered and deliver them to the boys.  The boys get the awesome job of axing heads.  Okay, I know it’s not awesome – it’s gory, bloody, messy, and downright sucks.  But you suck it up and do what you have to do.  I don’t even cry anymore – I’m a big girl now!  The ducks are hung in a tree to bleed out.  We all start plucking down.  There’s a 55 gallon drum that is full of down and someday we’ll find a use for it.  Lexie and I also choose feathers that are pretty and interesting to save for making earrings with.  The boys finish off plucking feathers and gutting the ducks.  Everything is done by hand.  After the ducks are cleaned and prepped, they are put into the refrigerator for 3 days to “relax”.  When ducks are slaughtered they get stressed and the muscles all tense up.  Letting them set allows the muscles to relax and the meat to be more tender.  At the end of 3 days I do a final cleaning of the ducks and vacuum pack them for the freezer.  We are fortunate, this winter our freezer will be full!  OH, a farmers weather prediction:  the ducks have been packing on insane amounts of fat this year.  And it’s still early.  More fat means colder temps.  Ugh.

Muscovy Ducks

Muscovy Dinner, I mean ducks.

Around here, we eat duck 3 or 4 times a week.  We eat duck like most people eat McDonald’s.  One of our favorite ways to eat it is Duck with Noodles.  Reminds me of those Bertolli frozen meals that I used to eat way back when.  When we weren’t gluten free and worried about what was in the food we were eating.

Duck with Noodles

  • 1 duck
  • spaghetti or fettucini noodles (I use Tinkyada brand gluten-free spaghetti noodles – made with brown rice only!)
  • olive or sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • Bragg’s nutritional yeast
  • basil or oregano, to taste

Place duck in turkey roaster.  Sprinkle with choice of herbs, salt, and pepper.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 1 hour.  Remove and let cool.  Prepare noodles according to package directions.  While noodles are cooking, saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms in large frying pan until browned.  Place onion mixture in large bowl.  Drain noodles and place in frying pan with a little bit of oil, spices, and nutritional yeast.  Slightly brown or “fry”.  Remove from skillet and add to onion mixture.  When duck has cooled, remove meat from  bones and shred into the noodles and onions.  Sprinkle with spices and additional nutritional yeast.  Mix well. Our family of 4 can get 2 meals out of this.

Duck with noodles

Duck with noodles

The whole meal, hands on, doesn’t take long.  Once the duck is roasted, everything else comes together within 30 minutes.  Which is why it’s one of our favorite go-to meals.  Serve with a side of veggies, some homemade applesauce, and you’re good to go!

Duck with noodles and broccoli

Duck with noodles and broccoli

Farmers do eat well!  We feel really good when we sit down to eat, knowing that we put work into what’s on our plate and that we are capable of providing for ourselves.  It makes you appreciate your food, and a side of appreciation makes anything taste even better!


Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Fall has officially arrived.  I’ve read multiple stories about how bad this winter is going to be.  And everywhere you go you see reminders to get your flu vaccine NOW!  It’s that important.  Right.  We haven’t had our flu shots in 5 or 6 years (oh, say it isn’t so!) and we haven’t had the flu. *Knocking on wood*  (Ok, maybe I’m a tiny bit superstitious!) Actually, we haven’t been to the doctor for that long either.  Doctors have their place but we have done just fine treating ourselves naturally.  That’s why I made some elderberry syrup!  Nik was out foraging and he told me there was a huge elderberry bush just loaded with berries.  Free medicine from nature?  Sign me up!

Elderberries are large perennial bushes that can grow in all kinds of conditions.  The berries ripen from late August to early October.  They are rich in flavonoids, rutin (known to improve immunity), antioxidants, and Vitamin C.  They are anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and are most effective at boosting the immune system and warding off the flu.  Research supports elderberry’s role in easing coughs and colds.  Native Americans used elderberries to treat colds, joint pain, fever, and skin problems.

It has all kinds of healthy ingredients that make it taste yummy too!

This recipe calls for ginger (helps blood flow and warms the body); cinnamon which is antifungal, inhibits bacterial growth in food, lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol and blood sugar, has an anti-clotting effect on blood, and when taken with honey it relieves joint pain; cloves  are great for treating toothaches, coughs and cold, nausea, bloating, and infections.  You also need honey, which is antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and speeds up wound healing.  I chose to use Manuka Honey.  It has a little bit of a different taste and is like the BMW of honey.  All the benefits of honey only supercharged!  The majority of honey found in supermarkets is not real honey.  It’s a watered down, filled with molasses, sugar, and/or corn syrup version that they see fit to label as honey.  We like to get our honey from a local beekeeper.  At least until we can get our own hives!

I didn’t realize it would be this easy to make.  I found a recipe that sounded good at Wellness Mama and got busy.  Warning:  it will make your kitchen smell like you’ve been baking all day!

Black Elderberries

Bowl of fresh black elderberries

Elderberry Syrup

1 cup black elderberries

3 1/2 cups water

1 Tbsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1 cup honey

Combine all ingredients except for honey in a saucepan and bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half.  Allow the syrup to cool and stir in your honey.  Pour your syrup into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator.  It should store well in the refrigerator for about 6 months.

Black Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Syrup Ingredients

This mixture made about a quart of elderberry syrup.

For adults, take 1 Tbsp daily.  For children, take 1 tsp daily.  I’ve read where some people suggest taking it through the week and not taking it on weekends.  If you feel a cold or flu coming on, you can take it up to 5 times daily.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an elderberry overdose.  Hhmmm, I’ll have to research that one.

Quart of Black Elderberry Syrup

Finished Quart of Black Elderberry Syrup

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical doctor.   All views and opinions stated are my own arrived at by personal trial and research.  I encourage you to do your own research and to seek professional medical advice when necessary.