We started at about 9am and were finished by 4pm. Everything was cut, wrapped and cleaned up. We did take the bellies and one leg to Taylor's to have them smoke the meat into bacon and ham. Taylor's offers a celery salt cure which is chemically nitrate/nitrite free. There are naturally occurring nitrates in celery salt. While we would like to be able to smoke our own meat and some point (Gavin has a smoker that is out at his parents) we just don't know much about it to feel knowledgeable enough to start. *There's a whole nother homesteading skill I'd like to acquire!*
Here are some pictures of how our day went. Warning: these may be graphic to some, totally normal to others. If you don't like the sight of blood or gutting an animal then please do not proceed.
Gavin digging the hole for the guts. You can just take your guts to the dump but if you have the room on your property to bury them it certainly saves money and time.
Gavin and Rob beginning to gut the hog.
This is what the kids did for the gutting part. They built a fire and played. Once in a while they'd come over to see how it was going. We feel that it's important not only for our children to know where their meat comes from, but to have an appreciation for the animal and to know the work that goes into getting that meat to your table. With grocery stores now a days, I think we are far too removed from how the food we are eating, especially when it comes to meat, got to our plates.
Gutting the hog.
Removing the heart and lungs.
Skinning the hog. Now, most people don't skin hogs, they scald them. We are very new to the process of processing hogs so Gavin has just went with what he knows how to do well from hunting, and that is skinning. We could get the large drum of boiling water and scald it but we haven't ventured there yet. If you have any good tips or experiences with scalding hogs that you can share, pleas do share!
After the guys had skinned it, Ida and I went over the carcass and trimmed as much fat off as we could to make lard.
Removing the forelegs. Ida and I then went into the house and started cutting up meat. The guys continued outside taking the hog apart piece by piece. At that point I got a little sidetracked with it all and forgot to take many more photos!
Our backwoods butcher shop.
Some ribs and one belly reading for wrapping.
We buy butcher's paper at our local hardware store to wrap our meat. We cut the shoulders and one leg into roasts, the bellies go for bacon, the tenderloin, ribs, and chops are cut and wrapped, the other leg goes for smoking, and the rest is ground for use in sausage patties, tacos, etc. I have read a bit about making head cheese but I think my husband is too grossed out about it for me to try. Have any of you ever eaten head cheese? Or made it yourself? What did you think of it?
The Foxfire Book is a fantastic backwoods homesteading book that we've used as reference quite often when it come to butchering hogs. If you don't already own it, I'd recommend investing in it at some point.
If you have any good hog butchering tips or stories, I'd love to hear about them.