My favorite duck is dead. He didn't have a name (his destiny was to be eaten), but he was still my favorite. He always made eye contact with me in a very intense way. I would sit outside the duck pen and chicken run, watching behaviors and learning about our animals. This duck would whisper at me, and I would whisper back. His bill was very orange, and he was the biggest duck of our three, sort of the leader. Overall, he was an interesting guy. Today was the first time either my husband or I had to slaughter a duck. We weren't sure which method to use, as the internet and our homesteading books gave us varying information. Some said to just use an axe, and others said to use a sharp knife to the throat. We were most concerned about humane slaughter, as to not cause the animal to suffer. My husband is an axe novice, but is very strong. We figured we'd use the knife method, draining the bird over a bucket in the process. It was difficult. First we had to net the duck, which took some time, even though they are slow. Duck pens are dirty places, and we didn't want to land face down in pursuit of a duck. When my husband caught my favorite duck, I said, "This is good. If we do him, then the others won't be so bad." I underestimated the whole experience. The duck was calm, and he didn't make a sound. His head was so soft, so fluffy, it was unreal. I couldn't remember the last time I had touched a full-grown White Pekin duck, and it surprised me just how delicate the feathers were. He tried to move his wings a little, and I soothed him saying, "It's okay. This is your destiny. It's okay." At that point, my husband slit his throat. The duck struggled some, his tongue stuck out a little, and I felt like crying. My husband's hands were shaking as he tried to cut in further, and we were both just so moved by it all. Maybe it was the uncontrollable responses from the duck's body, his jerking a bit, his wings twitching. My husband brought an axe over to sever the head. We then hung up my favorite duck, to bleed out and pluck. When people ask me, "Why raise your own meat?" I always have an answer. "It's better to know where your food comes from" or "It's healthy" or "I'd be a hypocrite if I'd eat meat, but not take responsibility for its life and death." These are good answers I still stand by. The duck experience was not all horrible, though it was more emotional than butchering a chicken. My husband and I are still learning how to do these things, and there will be times when it doesn't go as easily as others may say it should. We recognize that we have been city people for a good part of our lives, and that our country life now is still somewhat new. Where we see ourselves as weak or squeamish, we also know that we are many steps ahead of others that would never dream of living like we do. People have been slaughtering ducks long before us, and will long after us. All over the world, it is normal, everyday life. It's true enough, that we surely did feel the responsibility this duck's life and death. And we surely will eat this duck, too. The meat looks beautiful. I raised a fine bird.