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An Unusual Harvest

(This blog post discusses duck slaughter, reader’s discretion advised)

I really didn't think I'd ever find myself in this position. I'm in our garden wearing an apron; Jon the butcher is holding Zion the duck and showing me where and how to slit his throat. I take the knife, recite the blessing, and slit his throat.

How did this ever come about?

I was actually vegan for quite some time. Thinking that animal products were really unhealthy and environmentally devastating. I even vetoed animal products in our household during the week: preparing only plant-based foods for Ahuvi (my love) and our then-toddler daughter.

I had participated in a permaculture course a couple of years before that and I learned about perennial food production and how central trees and shrubs were for creating environmentally sound food resilience. Animal systems were mentioned briefly, but they were anecdotal.

After listening to a few podcasts about permaculture (Permaculture Voices, Paul Wheaton and The Survival Podcast) I discovered the connection between raising animals for meat, food resilience, clean food, regenerative agriculture, and sustainability. My mind was blown. I had some success growing a garden bed or two in our tiny garden. Even though 10 heads of lettuce (that all are ready to harvest at once) and two heads of broccoli didn't even make a dent in our food needs.

We decided to start with chickens. We got a bunch of heritage chicks, and since we are in an urban area and our chicken coop is literally six meters away from our neighbor's window, we knew we couldn't keep a rooster. They grew and we quickly discovered which one was the rooster as he became way too noisy. We asked Jon the butcher to process him for us. Wow! Bringing inside a whole chicken that we raised and slaughtered in our garden was an eye-opening experience.

This chicken was the main course of our meal, and it lived in the same place we did. It wasn't imported from Bolivia (like organic quinoa) or India (like organic lentils). It ate our leftovers and some grain I bought at the supermarket (here's how I make our chicken grain mix). It took about three minutes of daily work to care for and enhanced the fertility of our garden in the process.

So for my birthday this year, I went to the pet store and bought two muscovy ducklings. They were so cute; the kids loved holding them; Tamara invited all her friends to meet them; they ate straight out of our hand. It was a glorious experience. They had a little bath to bathe in and I would add a layer of wood chips to soak up the water they splashed and the water I drained when I gave them fresh water. It also bonded with the nitrogenous duck dropping. We decided it was time to slaughter them when I read that one drake (a male duck) should live with about six female ducks. It is too much for one duck to handle a drake's sex drive.

So that is how I found myself at the unlikely event of a duck ‘harvest’ in our garden.

Jon taught me how to slaughter and process birds, explained how to clean and kosher them and how what to do with any waste (Thank you so much Jon!). Hopefully I'll do it independently next time.

Our kids had some duck for lunch today. Tamara was a little reluctant at first, but she tasted it, which means she accepted the concept of eating an animal from our garden (I appreciate that T and I'm proud of you).

And thank you to zion and Israel the ducks for nourishing our family, and our soil. I am full of gratitude for what you’ve given to our family.

Thank y’all for reading. I really wanted to share that with someone.

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