One Big Adventure
An opportunity to log in some of the thoughts and activities of our homeschooling family of eight. We love books and good food and aspire to a Christ-centered, multi-generational, agrarian life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hog Killin'

[Ed. note: I tried to pick the least graphic photos of the actual hog killing/processing part. The result still may be more than some metropolitan stomaches care to bear. Please consider yourselves warned! Your mileage may vary.]

Saturday, February 9th, Vern, Hannah, Owen, Rebecca and I loaded up into the little car in the wee hours of the morning--well, it was still dark--and headed west. We drove about two hours to a little town called Woodland, near Pine Mountain, GA (home of FDR's Little White House and Callaway Gardens). Our destination: Hog Killing at the Old South Farm Museum.

We arrived early and checked in with some 200-odd other folks who came either to relive old memories or learn a new skill. There were a number of families there to learn like us. Some planned to raise a hog or two, others planned to hunt wild hogs and wanted to know how to slaughter and butcher.

The facility has a huge museum with LOTS of equipment and other items from a time in our past when most folks knew what it was to farm. Owen is here at the museum with an old vegetable cart. He is hoping, someday soon, to build us a Whizbang Garden Cart, and this looked like it could have been a predecessor!

The unsuspecting hog awaits its demise. I didn't go watch, but Owen did. They draw an imaginary X from left ear to right eye and from right ear to left eye. Right at the intersection, the hog is shot with a .22 . The hog, we are told, dies immediately, but then there are the involuntary muscle spasms that resulted in the hog banging itself against the barn wall. Once the hog relaxed, they pull it from the pen, through the people and to the center where they demonstrate how to 'stick' the hog in order to bleed it out. Later on, in one of the workshops, a helper told us that when he slaughters his hogs at home, he sticks the hog immediately after shooting it so that the involuntary spasms help to bleed out the hog more thoroughly.
The HUGE vat of water at the ready for scalding the hog. The hog must be scalded in order to scrape off the hairs. At first, we were not too excited being downwind of the fire and thought that perhaps we would use a smoke-free method to heat our scalding water. In hindsight, we realized that perhaps the smoke smell was preferable to some others we could have experienced that day! The hog was actually scalded in a 55 gallon drum laid mostly on its side.
Vern takes a turn scraping the hog. Owen (in the blue sweatshirt and cap) and Becca (in the read sweatshirt and blonde french braid) await their turn at the scraper.
Once the hog was mostly cleaned of hair, it was strung up by the hind hocks, given a final, thorough scraping and rinsing and then cut open and eviscerated.
Here you can get an idea of how the hog hung. You can just see the scalding barrel laying to the right of the pallets on the ground. Water from the heating vat was put in the barrel for the scald and cooled to the right temperature (165*F) by adding cold water from the hose.

The fellow that did the class was a real hoot. He has been doing this for some 35 or 40 years and is 75 years old! He was full of stories of hog killings (and other country activities) from his growing up years.
There were a number of demonstrations and samples. Below is soap made from lard.
And pork skins. Vern tried cracklins, but I missed out on that one!
They had an old time smoke house operating with an old wood stove puffing away...
Into the old smokehouse.
We also attended a curing class and learned the basics of salt curing meat. The man who taught the class grew up curing meat and is now an ag professor at Fort Valley State University. He was so intent on helping us be successful, he gave his home, office and cell phone numbers for us to call if we ran in to any trouble during the curing process. As part of the class, we came home with a large ham to cure and the cure (salt, sugar, etc) and a booklet to help us remember all the steps.
The last class we benefitted from was a sausage-making class. It was hands-on, ask questions and we learned a lot, picked up recipes and came home with some 8 pounds or so of homemade sausage, besides the brunswick stew we ate and brought home.
According to Mr. Bulloch, the man who sets this up, this is the last hog killing (open to the public) in the entire southeast. If you're looking for an agrarian field trip, we recommend it! Vern had been reading a couple of books on slaughtering and butchering hogs and he says with the visual from the Hog Killing day, the books make a whole lot more sense.
Love, Stephanie

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