Last year we had our family from Chicago come to the farm for Thanksgiving. We originally planned to raise a turkey just for the occasion, but the farmer friend who bought the turkeys couldn't keep them safe long enough for us to pick ours up. Instead we had duck and deer. A local hunter friend provided the venison and the recipe. Excellent!
This is our third try at raising duck. We've had great success with chickens, but my dad is allergic to chickens. Chicken meat, chicken eggs, even chicken feathers are no good for him. So Duck we had!
When we started negotiating to buy the farm we bought ducklings from a local farmer. We met her at the Carroll County Fairgrounds when they hosted the Illinois Pet & Game Breeder's Society sale. They were a week old when we got them. Those ducks were the tamest Muscovy you could imagine. They would come for treats and allow you to pet them. My son named the smallest tan one "Cutie," my daughter named the other two brown ones "Bob" & "Julie." Cutie survived an injury from our 3 legged puppy. (Aggie tried to herd a tractor when she was younger and learned tractors can't be herded.) Two white Muscovy's from a friends farm joined these two. We called them Rodney & Dangerfield, because that's what they looked like before they cleaned up. We left the ducks in the care of a neighbor who took Aggie to his farm while we visited family in Virginia for Christmas. The coyotes found those first ducks. No duck eggs that first year only a few dozen Guinea Fowl eggs to send home to Chicago.
The second year we got a dozen white ducks of the generic loud white Pekin variety and housed them temporarily in the chicken tractor. All but one ran off to the creek never to be seen again. The remainer turned into the peacock's girlfriend until the garbage truck got the peacock... Now we have a group of Roen ducks (big Mallard looking breed)and sampled and sold many dozen eggs from them. Their shells are slightly tougher to crack, but the taste is worth it. I hear they freeze well for later cooking and my Dad in Chicago is testing that theory. We are trying to increase the flock by allowing them to brood... free range.
We have 6 geese that were donated by another farm, but no gander. You can't tell the girls their eggs are infertile. They really want to hatch their nests! Maybe we will ley them next year. Goose eggs are BIG, and taste very similar to chicken, but are safe for those with allergies.
The Chicken tractor is full of midsized broiler chickens and turkeys. I built a door into the side to allow them to free range during the day.
Thanksgiving 2009 will have home grown turkey, and our first garden on the new farm full of veggies... and most likely some bread from a neighbor bartered for with eggs.
If anyone has requests for poultry or other farm fresh foods for next Thanksgiving, now would be the time.
We hope to be trying our hand at breeding the sow this year too, so pork will be expected to be available late fall / winter to those of you that have enjoyed it from us the past two years. Wish us luck and know that we are doing our homework to provide only the best.