Hog Killing

In addition to the milk cow and chickens for eggs and meat, the hog was enormously important to our existence.  Invariably, we had at least one, and usually, pigs we were fattening to slaughter.  Caring for the hogs was an additional chore.  Any food left from any meal was put in the slop bucket.  Slopping the hog was an necessity.  If there was not enough 'slop' to fatten the pigs, they had to be fed corn, whch we would shuck and shell so that the hogs would not waste so much.  After feeding the hogs until they were large and fat (three to four hundred pounds), we would look for hog killing day.  Providing a suitable day was mother nature's task.  It needed to be in freezing weather, in order to preserve the meat.  When a cold enough day occurred, we would get a neighbor to help, since there was a lot of weight to handle.

We always shot the hog between the eyes, killing it instantly.  His throat would then be cut so that he would bleed, and he was dragged from the pen to the spring area since water was necessary.  Prior to the killing, the wash pot was filled with water, and a fire was started to get the water to a boil.  Two sacks were heated in the boiling water and removed while very hot.  These were placed on the hog, softening its hair, so that it could be scraped off with kitchen knives (butcher knives).  after the hair was removed, a single tree was fastened to the rear legs.  A tripod was set up, and the carcass was lifted and hung on the tripod.  From this hanging position, the inside was gutted and cleaned.  The entrails were caught in a tub, and we always threw them away.

From the hanging position, the meat was cut.  The pot was emptied, cleaned, and refilled with clean water.  As the meat was cut, all scrap pieces were thrown into the pot tho cook into lard and cracklings.  The work was hard and time-consuming.  As the meat was separated, we selected a portion to be sent to our neighbors so that every one could have fresh meat.

My job, at this point, was to grind sausage.  Pieces were cut for this purpose with a mixture of fat and lean.  The sausage grinder was small and clamped to the kitchen table.  The lean and fat pieces were mixed to give a consisted blend.  All of the meat was heavily salted for preservation.  All of the cuts of meat, except sausage, were stored in the meat box in the smokehouse.

Prior to storing, the sausage was packed into cloth bags about three inches in diameter.  In the smokehouse, a minute fire of hickory wood would be started, the sausage and some meat hanging above it.  I can still recall the fantastic taste of sausage and biscuit when I carried one in my school lunch.  If there was ever a suspected problem with the meat curing properly, mother would can that part.  For breakfast, we could have sausage and gravy just by opening and heating a jar.  The middlings were cured for bacon.  When bacon was sliced off by hand, the strips were thick and very salty.  They needed to be soaked in water overnight to remove some of the salt.  At our house we never cut the meat into pork chops.  The bone was removed, and we ate only the meat, which we called tenderloin.

Hog killing started just after sunup, and the sausage grinding and storing continued well into the night.  All the hog was utilized except the entrails, hair, and eyes.  The bladder even made a passable football when inflated.

After the meat in the pot cooked, grease was stored in syrup buckets, and cracklings were stored to make crackling cornbread, an absolute delicacy.  Even the brains were used to make a dish called brains and eggs.

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