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Too cold out for a small lad .
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Gary_N_WV    Posted 01-13-2005 at 12:55:57       [Reply]  [Send Email]
When I was a young lad we had neighbors that butchered their own hogs; a thing that most kids today have never seen done.
I didn’t live on a farm but on about a ½ acre lot in a small town. The neighbors had a larger lot just big enough to grow enough corn to raise their hogs most years.
In the fall of the year, after the corn had been harvested and around the general time of Thanksgiving, this family, which I will call the Rogers family, would go out early one morning and set up a tripod made from metal pipes and at the top of it they would place a “block and tackle” for lifting a hog, and then they would make a fire beneath it with logs and set a large kettle of water over the fire to boil.
At this time of year, the weather was always blustery and grey clouds hung in the sky. Snow flurries, light at times and sometimes heavier would be falling, swirling and mixing in with the smoke of the fire and the steam from the hot water.
It was the time of year when the ground would be frozen on top from the cold temperatures over night, but the ground around and near the fire would thaw into a squishy mud…..the flames of the fire would dance around and across the logs with colors of blue and yellow and orange, and beneath the burning logs would be an ever increasing pile of glowing embers that radiated heat upon your face.
Some years there would be a slight dusting of snow on the ground, but other years just a heavy frost.
As time past in waiting for the water to boil, the men and a couple of the neighborhood boys like myself would stand around the fire…dressed in a heavy winter coat with a toboggan on our head……...watching the flames dance….watching the snow flurries swirling and falling…..listening to the fire snap and crackle as the wood burned away and listening to the sound of the water boiling near the edge of the pot where the fire was hottest….smoke would fill your eyes and nostrils as you tried moving from one side of the fire to the other to avoid it and the steam would come up into your face.
You would stand there in semi soft mud at your feet with one side of your body toward the fire….your pants would get scorching hot on the side toward the fire, but your backside would be freezing…your clothes would be steaming where snow had fallen and melted on them and the heat of the fire was vaporizing it….....soon you would turn around to warm the other side and within a minute or two you would be back to scorching on one side and the other side freezing.
It was a never ending situation….scorching one side, freezing the other while you ran back and forth around the fire in a circle trying to avoid the smoke and flames and sparks and steam.
After the water reached a rolling boil you would hear the sound of a single shot from a .22 cal rifle and then they would bring the “now dead” hog up to the fire area and hoist him up with the block and tackle….then they would lower it into the scalding water for awhile to loosen the hair.
Once again they would hoist it up and begin scraping the hair loose from the hide with metal scraping tools…sometimes they would dip it a time or two more to get all the hair loose from the hide.
This was all “quite a show” for a young boy and one that I remember very well…….the swirling snow flurries, the smoke and sparks from the fire, the smell of burning wood and the steam from the boiling water…the little “fire devils” that danced on the burning logs…the sting of a cold wind against my face.
I also remember that when I would tire of watching or would need to get back from the fire in order for the adults to work, I would go home and into the house…….that instant warmth inside the house with the smell of food my mother was cooking would soon lull me into a slumber…..just as well I suppose, too cold for a small kid to be outside for too long anyway.

I know that butchering still takes place on many farms, but it has been nearly 50 years since I have watched it, and although kinda “yucky” in a way, it’s still another pleasant memory from my childhood.
I salute those of you that still butcher…..what a job!

Willy-N    Posted 01-13-2005 at 20:48:37       [Reply]  [No Email]
We still butcher 6-8 animals (pigs and steers) a year here. The cut and wrap is done in another place. Most of them have names except the pigs and the day is not enjoyable to me even after doing it for around 16 years. It has to be done and doing it where they are raised is the best way to not stress them. Do look forward to all the good meat knowing we raised it! Mark H.

bill b va    Posted 01-13-2005 at 17:45:10       [Reply]  [No Email]

gary i had 2 uncles who were butchers not grocery store or packing house butchers but country butchers who helped neigbors in the fall with thier butchering . i know of what you remember . i especially liked the rendering of lard and the hot cracklings that came from the lard press .some didn't press the lard fat but the pressed ones are the best.

KellyGa    Posted 01-13-2005 at 17:35:29       [Reply]  [No Email]
What a wonderful memory. I never lived on a farm, or near a farm. My grandmother thinks I am nuts, a lot of folks dont really get me, cept everybody here. :) I already have the chickens, but they are just layers. I dont intend on eating them, I raised them for pets. Its just not profitable for me to kill and eat them. I enjoy them much more alive. They are actually very fond of me, and I of them. :) I will add to my array of animals for sure when we are moved. I aspire to be more self sufficient, though when it comes to animals I have a soft heart. I seem to have a way with them, they trust me and we understand each other. So, I will probably have a tremendous garden and get my meat from the grocery store...just the way I kow it will be. I love meat too much to give it up, and I guess if I had to do it, to survive, I would, but as long as I dont have to do the wet work, I reckon I won't. :) Oh, and thanks for another wonderful story. :) I do like the smell of burning wood.

Clipper    Posted 01-13-2005 at 13:07:16       [Reply]  [No Email]
We still butcher our own beef and pigs here. For the pig we lay him in a trough and pour boiling water over the carcass to loosen the bristles for scraping with a implement known as a "bell". For dressing out the hog we use our bucket loader tractor to hoist the pig up high enough to make the job easier on our backs.
We still build a big fire around a 55 gallon drum of water. It is a family function here so we have all of the younger kids present for the chore. They enjoy roasting marshmellows, making Smore's,and keeping warm by the fire. :^)

bill b va    Posted 01-13-2005 at 17:57:02       [Reply]  [No Email]

what do you do with the squeal and whisle ?

Clipper    Posted 01-13-2005 at 20:16:49       [Reply]  [No Email]
So what's your point?

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