Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hog killing day

   We recently butchered the first of the pair of hogs we've been raising since September.  These were the first hogs we ever raised.  Despite our hesitations, it went quite well.  They did get out quite a few times when they first arrived but after training them to the electric fence, they seemed content in their designated place.  It was about a quarter acre in some overgrown woods we'd originally fenced for the goats.  The pair seemed happy to root around for acorns or grubs or whatever it was they seemed to be finding.  We were also quite pleased with how well they gained weight.  We fed them our own heirloom field corn and surplus dairy from our cow along with some garden extras.  With warm weather approaching and our feed for them running low, it was time to butcher the pigs.  With the help of willing friends and advice of experienced butchers, we began the task this past snowy Monday morning.
Since we wanted to cure the meat, we decided we needed to scald the pig instead of just skinning it. We have an outdoor wood burning water stove, so we had a good supply of hot water.  So we tried filling a barrel with the hot water.  In the end, we decided to run hot water out of a hose over the pig.  This loosened the hair enough to scrape it off. 
Here a friend is cutting off the head.  Neighbors used the head for their livermush.  We were pleasantly surprised by how little waste there was from the hog.  And the only things that got thrown out, likely could have been enjoyed by someone or ourselves if we were better prepared.  We're curing the meat by the jaw as well as the side meat and fat back.  On this next one we may attempt to save some casings from the intestines for stuffing sausages.  Someone recently sent us pictures from a Spanish butcher shop with a large pile of pig snouts - maybe next time!
Gutting the hog.
Cutting out the backbone, then cutting up the rest of the carcass.
Here Eric is getting the last of the hairs off from one of the hams.  We're curing the hams along with the fat back, side meat (bacon) and jowls.  Since pork isn't supposed to last too long in the freezer, we want to try to preserve it in other ways to extend the enjoyment of it.  We're rendering the lard for frying and baking and we're canning sausage and cubed meats.
While the adults were busy with the butchering, the kids were busy enjoying the quickly melting snow.