Bringing Home the Bacon…Literally

Onions and bacon cooking up just makes your kitchen smell so good. In fact, one day I’m going to come up with a room deodorizer that smells like bacon and onions. It’s a fabulous smell.  ~Paula Deen

Pap-Kyle-at-Gutchess-Hardwoods-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Pappy & Kyle hanging together on the highlift at Gutchess Hardwoods c. 2005

Two weeks ago dad asked me, “Are you going to be around on Saturday?”  Meaning, “Heather I need your help so be at the house.”  No biggie, but very curious I ask, “Why what did you need?”  To be answered with dad’s newest project, “I think I’m going to buy a pig and butcher it.”

Really? O yes!  Dad left early last Saturday morning with a friend of his, Chris, to go to an auction in Maryland to purchase a live pig.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to us when the day finally came because dad’s been talking about getting a pig for quite some time now.

Before he left, dad told me and Kyle we weren’t aloud to pet the pig or name it.  I guess someone was thinking ahead.

This may sound odd to some, however dad used to butcher pigs all the time, either at my Uncle Ray’s, Uncle Irvin’s, or at my pap’s house, the Piper brothers.  Dad raised a pig or two in his day, not to sell or breed, but simply for butchering.  I kinda sort of remember dad having pigs, but I was really little.

Why you may ask, would someone take the time to build a pig pen, raise the creature and then invest all the time in butchering it, as opposed to buying the bacon in the store, nice and clean ready to go?  Simply because it’s healthier.  When you raise an animal you can control how it’s raised and what it’s fed, meaning no hormones or other synthetic substances.  Unless you know those key facts, then buying it off of a reputable farmer and butchering it oneself, allows you to control the preparation factors.  Factors like the preservatives added to the food for shelf life, all the extra salt and dyes, that sort of thing.  If you do it yourself, you don’t have any of those foreign contaminants in your meat (unless you add them), plus it’s cheaper.  It’s a lot of work, but I will admit, if the animal is properly butchered and utilized, one well worth it.

Dad got back late Saturday night with an extra body.  Yes you guessed it, a pig!  Was it alive?  You bet it was!  The keyword here is, WAS.  Dad’s friend had this “house” (it was actually a really nice super sized dog house) on the back of his trailer.  Lucky for us the structure had windows so we could peek in to see our three hundred pound walking bacon.  Naturally, since it was late, we couldn’t drop it, meaning kill the pig, until the next day.

Sunday morning came and dad shot the pig.  I know, on a Sunday morning, but we couldn’t keep the pig in such a confined space any longer.  That would have been cruel.  He put a .22 bullet in it’s head for a quick death.  He also sliced the throat to start the process.

On a side note, evidently there is a special way to shoot a pig.  Dad said the pig’s brain sits lower, so you have to shoot straight back from between the eyes.  Unlike a cow, whereas you draw an “X” from its ears to its eyes to get your bulls eye.  Good to know.

Lard-Press-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad’s antique (lard) press, which can be used for anything to press. I helped render the fat from our butchered pig…messy!

Many may not know this, but the nerves are still working after an animal has been killed.  Same with chickens and turkeys, which I’ve seen first hand.  Even after you cut off their heads, they can still run around.  Apparently, the pig was laying on its side in the “house” and kicking.  Kyle tracked me down in the kitchen to tell me the pig was running.  What?  For a brief moment I thought the pig got out and was literally running around.  All I could picture was this three hundred pound beast making a mad dash for the woods, and I would have to chase it down and kill it.  Not in my agenda for the day.

Eventually, I went outside to help Kyle with the butchering process, meaning the emotional strain on someone not used to witnessing such an activity.  He was fine, he just needed to get acclimated.  It’s a shock for someone who’s not around this type of living, meaning Kyle doesn’t’ know what to expect or how to handle it.  Me?  I’m good, I’ve been around dad for too long.

I helped dad move the massive beast into the garage.  No easy task!  Once inside, dad hoisted the pig up with his engine lift he uses for skinning deer.  He said it will hold up to a thousand pounds, but I was very skeptical.  It did, at least a three hundred pound pig!

Kyle’s initial job before he had to get ready for church (he was serving 10:30 mass at Sacred Heart Church) was to clean up the blood on the trailer, so we could return it in good shape.  Kyle asked, “Why didn’t pap walk the pig out before he shot it?”  Mom chimed in with one hilarious statement, “Did you ever try walking a three hundred pound pig that was scared?  You just don’t do it!”  Then the jokes started to surface about wrestling it to the ground and jumping on its back for a ride and so on and so forth.

Thinking this was not going to be a big deal, I was quickly informed differently.  Skinning a pig is nothing like skinning a deer, which dad and I have down to a science.  A pig is a bit of a challenge.  Actually, it’s all the fat and the heavy hide that make it so difficult.  Perhaps because I’ve never done it before, but as dad scolded Kyle and me by saying, “What are you guys doing?  You’re hacking it all up!”  Yes our side of the pig didn’t look nearly as nice as dad’s.  Our half was all choppy while dad’s has was fairly smooth, what it should look like.  Either way no harm to the meat, it takes practice.

Kyle was on the edge of his seat from the time the pig arrived till it was being cut up.  It was an exciting couple of days and two weekends, I mean it’s not like many of his friends ever got to say they butchered a pig before.  But it’s good experience and good knowledge for the kid.  As dad says, “You never know when you can’t afford to shop in a grocery store or government regulations stops the stores from selling meat, but if you know what you’re doing, you can always butcher your own.”  I agree, life is very unpredictable and possessing invaluable survival knowledge can mean life or death, or worse, a life without bacon!

On another side note, while we were butchering up the pig on Saturday into bacon, pork chops, roast, ribs and sausage, dad kept calling Kyle Putin, as in Vladimir Putin, as in the egotistical president of Russia (since 2012).  Not because Kyle is full of himself nor because Kyle is questionable in his moral actions.  Nope, because he was running around without his shirt on!  I was dying!  We watch Fox News and they love picking on Putin (rightfully so) especially when he struts around in front of the cameras bare chested on his horse.  Not a good look for a president but a great joke for dad toward Kyle.

These are the little piggies dad’s friend Chris purchased to raise as pets.  They were swilling and Kyle wouldn’t hold them.

This is the pig we butchered and is wrapped up in our freezer.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination and have No Comments

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