Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Wild Ducks Have Returned

When I awoke this morning the sun was barely up. One of my morning rituals is looking out our bedroom window for a few minutes, surveying the pond, the chicken yard, the garden, the ridge. This morning felt like early March. Moist from all the rain yesterday. Pond is nearing the full mark, dark green and still. The woods are gray and quiet with a brown blanket of leaves warming their feet. All 20-something guineas lined up at the pond to check out the visitors. We have pekin ducks and rouen (a french variety). They are beautiful. They live in another field right now. I wondered how our rouen males could have escaped to get out to the pond, but it wasn't our ducks gliding on the water. A mallard drake and two females were gliding and preening on the pond. Funny, I had forgotten all about them. We always mark the calendar when we sight them for the first time of a season. We always miss their departure. They returned to the farm in spring on March 28 this year. They stuck around for a good long bit. Where did they go? New York? The Catskills? The Adirondacks? Maybe all the way to Canada? Now where are they going? Will they head to the lake near my parent's home in central Texas? Maybe they will get to Austin and quack at my nephew, Jake.

I am happy to see our duck friends. We feel terribly honored that they choose to drop in on a regular basis through the years. They remind me of our people friends who stop in on their travels north and south. We are already looking forward to the visits coming up this season. Better start making cookies.

By the way, we processed our meat chickens yesterday. Our friends, Serge and James came with a big mean rooster. They set up a tarp in case of rain. It did. Donna, Marty and Savannah brought their meat chickens. We wanted to start the processing(killing) by 8:30am. We got rolling by 9 or 9:30. All 73 birds were in the coolers by 2:30, despite the glitches. I tried to not be envious of our other chicken killing friends who have much nicer set ups than ours. They work much more quickly than this family. We are pretty rustic. Our scalding pot is a big pot on a propane burner. The plucking machine is homemade and seems to need a little upgrade. Even so, we still have many pounds of free-range, pastured poultry ready to go in the freezer. Thank the Lord for our wonderful crew of friends. Killing chickens is hard work, but sharing the labor with friends lightens our load. We thought we might harvest one or two of our extra meat ducks. Decided to quit while we were ahead. Maybe some of our holiday visitors will want to share that experience with us.

Things on the farm seem to be winding down a little bit. The goats are hopefully with kid, so Maggie is no longer milking. The pigs are in the freezer. The meat chickens are processed. We still have to make 30lbs of pork fat into lard and 25lbs of venison into sausage. Coco still gives plenty of milk, so the cheese and butter making continue. I hope things will wind down enough to have a couple of dinner parties so we can enjoy the abundant harvest. Guess we need to get a christmas tree as well.


CountryDew said...

That sounds like a hard day!

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

That's the first thing I do too when I get up--look out the window. I keep a pair of binoculars on the dresser in case I spot something I want to see closer. Everything is so pretty here in Virginia, isn't it? I see green grass, then the red barn, then greys, browns and hunter green woods, and then purple mountains in the distance. All the fog and mist lately makes it look prettier. Looks fake, it's so pretty.