Monday, February 19, 2007

What a Week

What a week. I suppose that would be obvious from the lack of posting. It started with the pig killing, which then involves several days of processing (and weeks of salting every so often). Then I sold my mower, looked at a cow (and made an offer), husband had some off-farm paid work, I had some work in the neighborhood, and it got exceedingly cold. Plus the regular stuff.

Since I blogged extensively about the last pig killing, I was wondering why I felt compelled to blog about it again. Because it is important, that's why. And unusual enough these days. I am often appalled at how rare real skills are and these guys that helped us, one and all, all ages, all sorts of conditions and choices made, but one and all skilled.

Testing the Temperature
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

This is testing the temperature of the scald water. You should be able to run your fingers through it three times and it burn on the third pass to where you do not want to make a fourth. That translates to 145 degrees, about, and depends on how hot the fire under the tank is, how big and cold the pit is, etc.

Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

We brought our pig to the scald in the pick-up. We liked to have never got him in the pick-up. 350 pounds is a bit much for two people to lift. Ain't he purty though. That black hair was just glistening. Folks have commented all summer about our black pig, and at the scald we found out why. Although one kind person said he was hard to scrape because it had been so cold and he'd grown a winter coat. Which was true enough. But I don't think it is an old wives tale that dark pigs are harder to scrape. Although I don't see what the big deal about that is. Although I might in the future.

Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

This man nearly always does the gutting. He's good at it. But it threw him when I told him it was an intact (not castrated) pig. It is supposed to make the pig grow a bit better and be a bit leaner. The tale is that it makes the meat strong. Our meat was fine although this pig was under a year old.

Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

This is carcass laid out for blocking. Our patriarch who always does this was not feeling well enough this year. While that was sad, I was so heartened at how his grandson, who was a rather bratty 5 year old when we moved out here, stepped up and did a fantastic job. As he enters his adult years, he is not doing something useless but is going to butcher school. How cool. A daughter remarked how it looked like they were cutting butter as they cut up the carcass. That is a function of sharp knives and skill.

There are a few more photos in my photostream on flickr if you are interested. The other pig killed this day we named Pigzilla as it was probably better than 650 pounds, which is pretty incredible. We got the leaf lard and the jowls from it as well as from our pig so I've been able to put up a good bit of lard. And let me just say, lard does make superior biscuits. I'm sure it will pie crusts too.

On the other fronts, I'd bought the mower hoping it would help around the farm and with a plan to pay for it by mowing for neighbors. I did pay for it that way (and more) but it proved less than helpful on the farm. Most of our land is just too steep to be mowed that way, and in the orchard, it was impossible to maneuver around the trees. So it was good to sell it and move on. As to the cow, so far I still only have the one. As to the cold, gosh, I'm glad this will be a warm week.


Mushy said...

Great post!

Haven't thought much about that procedures since I watched my Granddad do it back on the farm.


Fathairybastard said...

My dad tells stories of hog killin's back when he was a kid in the 20s and 30s, where his job, along with his brother, was to get the crap out if the intestines so they could be cleaned to make sausage. So they'd fling hog crap at one another, with their mom upset and their dad giggling all the while.

Nice post.

the Contrary Goddess said...

You turn the intestines inside out and "strip" them (they are in two layers). Although I've never done it. I think the chitlins (& tripe) are that inside celia laden layer. The outside layer is what is used, I think, for casing for sausage.

Although around here it seems pretty traditional these days to "can" sausage (any that you aren't going to freeze). To do that you patty and cook it (fry or bake) then put it in jars and cover with the fat off the frying and extra lard if required. You just put all that in there hot and put a lid on it, usually turn it upside down to seal it. I'm sure the USDA would not approve.

The intestine task is yet another reason to not feed the hogs at least the day before you kill, if not two days. Makes the slaughter a LOT easier.

I have to say that all this "I remember my grandfather" stuff just tells me how far removed society in general is from people being able to procure their own food. I really do get disturbed at how few people can really do anything.

Fathairybastard said...

Yep, we're too far removed from real life. Citified.

Dramaw said...

What ever happened to piggy number 2. Did you ever catch a sight of him after he ran off?

the Contrary Goddess said...

Never found piggy #2. Assume he died or was killed and eaten. Note to self: do not buy wild piglets -- they need to at least be tamed to the bucket which means simply that they know humans w/ buckets equal food.