Plucking the Christmas Goose

January 2, 2010
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This year, we decided to try goose for Thanksgiving and Christmas. By “we,” I mean that I had the idea and I roped Brian into it. The usual scenario, he will assure you. I found someone locally who raised geese and we bought two of them a few months ago. We named one “Thanksgiving” and the other one “Christmas.”

We picked a place that we thought would keep them occupied and safe. They picked a different spot. Thanksgiving was really good at getting out. Wherever he would go, he would call for Christmas to follow, but Christmas needed quite a running start to get going and he would get up close to the fence and then not make it over. 

 This is Thanksgiving:

img_0165 You can see he is looking in at Christmas who is on the other side of the fence. Thanksgiving got out and got all the good stuff. By the time Christmas figured out how to follow, it always seemed like he ended up in a place that didn’t have much grass. Poor guy. img_0163

Christmas always looked like he was trying to figure out how he got into wherever he got stuck.

Toward the end of November, we decided it was time to take the plunge and butcher the geese.  We didn’t want to leave one alone, so we decided to put Thanksgiving on the table and Christmas in the freezer (for Christmas, of course!).

We were interested in seeing if our Whizbang plucker would do a good job with plucking the geese. It does a great job with the chickens. I wasn’t able to find much on the ‘net about butchering geese, but we figured it had to be sort of similar to butchering chickens.

When we set out to butcher chickens for the first time, it was rather comical. I read everything I could get my had on and had a pile of handouts that I put on the table so we could read along. They blew all over and we never read them, of course. On that first chicken day (evening, actually), Brian went out and got our one killing cone ready. We had the most expensive cone there was, and we got one because we weren’t sure we were ready for all of this.

Brian went out first, and I read just one more post….and it said that chickens sometimes pop out of the cones. I flew out the door to tell him to tie the legs only to see the first bird flip out of the cone. One was hopping out just as I arrived.

He later bought some homemade cones from a guy on E-Bay that worked so much better. But I digress (as usual).

This time around, there wasn’t much info to be found. The last thing I read talked about how it took 4 hours to fully pluck a goose. One goose. Four hours. Those words were knocking around in my head as I trudged outside.

There was nothing else to do but begin. We caught the goose. By “we” I mean Brian. img_0168

I had read about dry plucking vs. scalding before plucking. Brian started the scald water, but it wasn’t up to temp when we got started so I decided I would give dry plucking a try to see how it went. Right about that time, the girls came out to tell us that the electricity had gone out. The scalder would still heat as it is on a propane burner, but there was no chance to try out our plucker. It was all up to me.

I started with dry plucking. img_0171

After 10 minutes I had one handful of downy feathers.

It was time to head to the scald pot.

Getting the headless goose into the pot was a feat in itself. With all that fat and all those water-resistant feathers, the goose wanted to float. img_0176

A little bit of soap in the scald water helped the water soak into the feathers, and a wooden spoon helped me hold the goose under water.

I don’t remember how long I scalded the geese. It seems like it was several minutes. I just kept pulling out test feathers to see if they came out easily. Once the feathers came out with ease, I hung each goose back up and did another round of hand-plucking. I wanted to save the down to make a pillow (which I did, and it is a great pillow!).

After plucking by hand, the electricity came back on so we tried the plucker. It didn’t go well, so mostly the birds were plucked by hand.

img_0188Next came a final once-over. I removed the feet, and checked to make sure the rest of the feathers were removed. Brian then took over with the evisceration process. For the most part, it was like chicken, only bigger.

I didn’t get any pictures of Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. I got too distracted with all the good food.

The geese were a hit. They each took about 30 minutes total to process, and they were delicious.

7 Responses to Plucking the Christmas Goose

  1. Carolyn
    May 15, 2011 at 4:24 am

    We have just “done” 6 of our chickens & have a goose & duck to do.
    There is not much info on the net – everything is chooks!I was daunted by the 4hr pluck & am heartened by your experience – I will try the dishwashing liquid – thanks, cross your fingers for me!!

  2. admin
    May 15, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Good luck! The geese and ducks do take longer, no way around that. But they are soooooo worth the effort.

  3. Amy Sutton
    November 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Hi. I just butchered my thanksgiving goose yesterday and saved the down with the hopes of making a pillow as well. How did you dry the feathers and did you do anything special with them before you stuffed the pillow? I laughed reading your story as it all sounds very familiar except that I have never owned a plucker.

  4. admin
    November 15, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Sorry to be so long in getting back to you, Amy. I toss all my down feathers into a pillowcase, tie a knot and put it into the washing machine. One cycle on hot and then 2-3 cycles through the dryer seems to do the trick. It works with goose feathers anyway. The duck feathers always came out smelling like ducks so I gave up that idea.

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