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After starting at about 7:30 in the morning the crew is done by early afternoon, when everyone settles in for a coffee and a chat about the day and how they're feeling.
"It's always very quiet when the whole process begins because everyone is a bit awed. No matter how many times we do it, it always feels like an experience that deserves silence and respect," says Jennie.
"But by late afternoon everyone is a bit more chirpy, ready to talk and be engaged again."
The calm quietude is nothing planned - it arises naturally, as does the simple but sincere thanks the Helmers declare at the table when the duck is eaten.
"It is a bit of a ritual to have one for dinner that night to realize what you are doing," she says. "We do the same when we dig up a new variety of potatoes."
The whole family was on hand to enjoy the meal. Jennie's mom, Jeannette, roasted the duck, which weighed about six pounds, in their old wood stove, adding butter, garlic, and sage and rosemary from the garden. She pan-fried farm-grown German butter potatoes in some duck fat, and served it all with a fresh salad made from cucumber, kohlrabi and tomatoes.
"It was amazing!" says Jennie. And that pretty much sums it up.
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning freelance writer who is impressed by anyone who cooks on a thermometer-less wood stove.