I lost my urge to kill for sport when I was 18. Calvin, Steve and myself were squirrel hunting in the timber across the road from our home when it happened.
I said I lost my urge to kill for sport, but not the desire for meat. If I ever found myself in the position where I needed to hunt to put food on the table, I could.
I debated whether or not to write about the hog butchering that took place last Saturday because of the subject matter. Here’s the deal- 90% of Americans probably have no clue as to where their food really comes from- they’ll inhale a tenderloin or baby back ribs without a second thought- I suppose they think they’re made by little elves in a hollow tree.
The reality is, if you like bacon, ham, tenderloin, barbeque ribs or pickled pigs feet, that piece of meat was once a living breathing pig and you’re living in a fairy tale if you think otherwise.
Last Summer, I was doing some carpentry work for a hog farmer. He offered to give me the runts when it was time to wean. Normally, the runts are destroyed because they are just not cost-effective to raise. I jumped at the chance, my thought was, I’d put them in the pasture behind the barn, allow them to free range and when the weather got cold (like now) we would butcher them just like my grandpa did in the 1920′s. I put the word out locally, to see who would be interested in some “free range” pork- pork that was grown without chemical, a very lean piece of pork. I got over 20 takers.
Pigs are foragers and LOVE to root for their food. Even farmers today who grow free range pigs will often still put a ring in their nose to keep them from rooting. So I’m convinced these 6 runts were some of the luckiest pigs that have lived in Iowa in years, but now it was time to butcher….
Due to the explicit nature of the remainder of this article- I’ve divided this post into two parts. Don’t read any further if this sort of thing bothers you. And by the way- please don’t leave any negative comments on this post- I will just delete them. thanks. DM
I decided we would butcher 2 pigs this first go round.
Step 1- The night before, I cut back on the feed.
Step 2 . I penned up the two pigs we were going to kill separate from rest.
Step 3- I let Phil do the actual shooting- with a pig you want to shoot them in the forehead- right between the eyes. The pig dropped to the ground, and thrashed for about a minute.
Step 4- We hung the pig up by the back legs, slitting the neck open (front to back) in order to get it to drain- I’ve never been deer hunting, but I suspect you could talk with any deer hunter who knows how to field dress a deer and he could explain how to do this step.
Step 5 We skinned the pig (rather than dipping it in boiling water) being careful not to cut into the guts starting at the back legs and working down to the head- it took two of us about 20 minutes just to skin one pig.
Step 6 - Removing the internal organs. Again we started at the top (rear end) carefully cut open the carcass without cutting into the intestines, etc. and put everything into a garbage bag- As you get down to the rib cage, we had to cut that open with sawzall, I guess some type of hack saw would have also worked. You have to cut through the front of the rib cage.
Step 7. I brought the carcass into the garage- it was pretty much done bleeding at this point- and let it hang overnight. Depending on what you read, you can let it hang (if it’s cold) for up to a week skinned- that time would have been shorter if we’d dipped it in boiling water) then they recommend 24 to 48 hours only)
step 8. The next day, while it was still hanging in the garage, I split the carcass from top to bottom with a sterilized sawzall blade.
Step 9- watch this 5 minute video: It did an excellent job of showing the initial cuts:
step 10 I put butcher paper on our kitchen table and cut up the pig according to the suggestions on the video.
I put the pieces of meat on some cookie sheets to let them chill for an hour in the freezer before vacuum sealing individual packages:
Before vacuum sealing individual packages:
Couple of final thoughts.- You can’t be too careful in terms of sterilization and cleanliness. And secondly I could feel the pressure of political correctness attempting to cast its shadow over me even as I wrote this-
It’s one thing to be squeamish because you don’t like gross stuff- that I understand.
If on the other hand, you are a meat eater and still have a bad attitude about this post- you may be in need of professional help. ;-)