National Geographic : 1951 Mar
514 Pampered but Short Are the Lives Riverhead farm hands drive these quacking youngsters nine-week span they will fatten on vegetables. Not in a class with producers of potatoes or cauliflower, about 300 farms in western Suffolk and Nassau specialize in market gardening for metropolitan consump tion. Farmers of various nationalities, particu larly Polish, take naturally to this industry. They plant closely with hand labor, make high investments, and hope for high returns. Mostly they raise spinach, lettuce, beets, carrots, sweet corn, snap beans, and some asparagus. Ducks and Drakes One can't stay in the Riverhead area long without seeing and hearing a lot of ducks. They tell a story that began in 1873 when a drake with three wives left China for the United States. These few members of the White Pekin breed started something which today makes Long Island claim to be the foremost duck-raising section in the world (page 310 and above). Now I know why restaurant menus from of Long Island's Downy Ducklings to a pond for their first swim. Until the end of their vitamin-rich feeds (pages 310, 319). Mobile, Alabama, to Missoula, Montana, in variably call duckling by its first name Long Island. I talked with Henry Corwin and his son on their farm near Riverhead. We had to raise our voices, for they raise ducks. The quacking and peeping sounded like a success ful stag chowder party. "I'm raising 'em only because I love to," the father said. "Started out to make it a hobby, but the thing grew and grew, the way ducks do." Corwin began business 40 years ago with 30 ducks. Now his 50-acre farm sends to market as many as 200,000 ducklings a year. In one of his buildings I saw a battery of incubators capable of holding 60,000 eggs at once; looked into a chain of brooder houses through which ducklings pass in successive stages of their nine weeks of life; and ended up at the dressing station where the finished product is mechanically picked and washed, then packed for shipment. Feathers, as a by product, bring a tidy sum.