We read that despite the fact that blanching the birds quickly in warm water helps the plucking process, it was better to not blanch so as to avoid any "cooking" of the birds before it was intended. So, there was a lot of grabbing, holding, and ripping involved.
Disjointing the wings by gently working a boning knife through the tendons in the "elbow" got a lot of the feathers out of the way--helping mentally as we worked through a seemingly endless scape of feathers only to be greeted by soft fuzz underneath. Goose down is coveted for a reason--softer than much else I've ever felt, and the birds were pretty well insulated despite a long rest in the refrigerator.
When we'd finally made it through all that down and removed wings, we removed the heads (which can be done as described with the wings above, or Christmas Story style with a cleaver), then hung the geese to singe any remaining down with a blowtorch. One goose was pretty smooth; the other gave some trouble and got a fair amount of rips in it. It could've been the goose; it could've been the plucker (me). Who knows. But the layer of skin and fat, despite all of this, was still really nice and thick despite the cosmetic blemishes.
So, after a couple of hours outside, noses dripping, hands frozen, covered in feathers, we went back inside to finish the job. In the sink, we gently sliced open the geese on the tail end to eviscerate them. Some interesting smells found their way out--the most prevalent one of pond mud made perfect sense.
We rinsed everything and set the hearts and livers aside for instant eating...
...and had our ready-to-use geese. The more torn up one is currently in fat for confit; the other will be a roast tomorrow night.
The livers were fried and sliced...
...and Crazy Hair pulled out some pork heart and venison to join the party. Being outside and in the circus land of swap-o-rama had made us all tired and hungry and cold, so we drank some scotch, then some wine, ate some lovely bass broiled with soy standing up...
...then sat down to a papaya and grapefruit salad with an interestingly named super hot dressing happily full of fish sauce served with the sliced goose liver, pork heart and venison.
Being out in the cold was exhausting. But what a great day and experience--reminded me of anytime I've killed an animal to eat, and how that re-centers me a bit an reminds me of the respect we should all have for what we eat. I've always thought that if you're going to eat it, you've got to be able to kill it, at least once. And certainly, you've got to be able to clean it. Doing this makes you respect it a bit more, and this is one of the more important relationships that needs to exist between us and our food, don't you think?
PS--Be sure to check out the link to the pig butchering above--you'll find more links to some pretty amazing pictures of that event by someone who really knows how to use a camera. Here at F.o.t.D., that's still a pretty major work in progress.