I will warn you right up front: this post includes pictures. They aren't particularly gruesome...at least, I don't think they are. But, if you'd rather just continue to imagine that pork comes from the Walmart meat department in nice little packages under cellophane, then you may want to skip this post. We'll be back to normal posts with photos of things like cute babies and live animals tomorrow.
We butchered our sow a few weeks ago. We decided that we definitely do not want to go into the hog business. While we like the plowing effect of the pigs, we just don't enjoy pork all that much. And yes, the irony of then putting another gigantic amount of pork meat into the freezer is not lost on me. Pigs, though, recreate so quickly and easily that we would be nearly overrun with pigs in no time at all if we bred them. And since we didn't want to breed her, she no longer had a use on the farm. Not alive, at least. We will raise her piglets (who are already past 80 pounds each!) through the summer and then sell them. In the meantime, they are plowing up a 2-acre paddock in the pasture so that we can plant some corn next year for feed (for chickens and for a couple of feeder pigs) the following year.
Though we took the boar to the meat locker, we decided to save the money and do it ourselves with the sow. She wasn't quite as big, for one thing. But also, our friends convinced us that it isn't really that hard. They did their own hog a while back. The big thing that we were having trouble with was that you need to scald the hog so that you can scrape off the bristles. Can you imagine repeatedly dipping a 400-lb dead animal in scalding water? Neither can I. Let's just say that she wouldn't fit in our chicken scalder. But, as they pointed out, you can also just skin the hog (much like you would a deer) and that removes the scalding requirement. They also offered to help. We were convinced.
We started the process in the evening. Our plan was to let her hang overnight in the chilly night air and then begin the arduous task of cutting her up into freezer-sized pieces the following morning. First, the audience.Abby watched too. She was so incredibly happy, I had to take a picture of her cute little face.Once we had the sow dead, they used a pulley system in our tree to hoist her up so they could begin the skinning. Isn't she huge?Caleb also got in on the skinning act. I won't show any more pictures of that night. You don't want to see any gutting, I'm sure. But after she was completely skinned and gutted, they pulled her up into the tree as high as she could go and let her cool and drain overnight. I still can't believe the coyotes didn't come for her.
In the morning, our friends returned to help with the meat-cutting part. I am so thankful. We'd probably still be cutting meat if they weren't there to help. I was also very thankful we had installed that kitchen island. We were definitely in need of as much counter space as possible!Meagan helped operate the grinder.All told, I do not yet know how much meat we got from her. I weighed and marked every package, but I did not total them. It was just too chaotic for that. Someday, I will get down in that freezer and add it all up. Until then, just know that we have a lot of pork. A lot.
Pork...it's what's for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast.