Before we start, I would like to say all those homesteading book you have, they sure don't tell you the whole truth about anything. With that said, time for you to learn.
We woke yesterday morning worried about the temp. It was only suppose to be 20F. To cold to butcher. You want it to be between 32F and 40F. Blessed Nation Ranch said it was going to be 34F at her place. We headed out.
How many homesteads does it take to butcher a hog? 3 apparently. Not only was the Neophyte Homestead involved, but we went to Blessed Nation Ranch to do the deed. The husband of the author of Melissa's Ramblings and his son also arrived on scene. None of us have done this before, all there to learn and I don't know who we were looking at to teach.
This is Mrs. Meat
She weighed out to 207 lbs. From what I have been told and read you want a hog between 200 and 225 lbs.
Before the kill, you need to get a 55 gallon drum half filled with water going. Not boiling, just steaming. Water temp needs to be around 120-150F. You don't want to cook the pig yet. If you don't have a thermometer, dip you hand into the water 3 times. If the third time is too hot for you, than it is time to dip the pig.
While the water is heating, you need to distract the pig with a little food. If butchering yourself, with hold food for 48 hours. Give her some food or milk, than point your .22 against one ear, turning it so that it faces the opposite eye. And pull the trigger. Here is where the books tell you that the pig will drop. I read about this one woman that did the deed straight between the eyes, and when a very ticked off hog chased her around, she did some research and discovered that this angle was the best, and has not done it any other way since then. uh huh. Well. . . no. .22 will not do you. It took 3 shoots and slitting the throat to kill her. All of us were feeling awful. My husband was the one doing the killing, and you could tell he was heart sick. He was talking to her, apologizing, and trying to sooth her while he had to shoot her again. After the third shot, I asked if she was down (they were in the trailer) he said yes, but not dead. You'll need to slit her throat. Please get it over with, I pleaded with him. Us women folk were distraught, but I can't imagine what my husband was going through as I handed over Melissa's husband;s knife, and my husband had to slit her throat. 7 inches deep, all the way across, hitting the aorta. Blood poured out of the trailer.
The men pulled her out, and to the tree. Time to hang and bleed.
Tying her feet, they threw the rope up to the oldest son of Blessed Nation Ranch. With the rope over, the men began to pull, and. . . snap! Rope broke. Blessed Nation Ranch grabbed a lasso, and they tried again.
My son climbed the tree this time, and my husband had to give Mrs. Meat a hug.
Pull boys pull!
With the pig up, we allowed her to bleed out. Of course this is another thing that homesteading books seem to neglect, how long to bleed a pig? 1 1/2 is what it took us. No one had an extension cord, for various reasons, so the husband of Blessed Nation had to drive 30 minutes to get it. We waited for the bleeding to stop, then it was my turn to get to work.
That would be me and my youngest son. I am cutting the skin and meat around the head to the spine.
My hands were so cold, that at one point I placed them into the hogs neck and blood to warm them. Once I got the meat cut through, my husband grabbed the hacksaw to cut the spine. You do not need to remove the head, but we wanted a little less weight to scald.
With all the feet tied, the guys moved the hog to the water.
There was some issues with getting her into the water. We were informed that Melissa's husband was freakishly strong, and my husband holds the State record in the Dead Lift. hahaha! It wasn't easy.
We got her end and allowed her to sit. After 20 seconds, I had the guys lift her so I could check how easily the hair came off. Pretty easy, so they had to flip her. another difficult task, we need a forklift next time. With her flipped and scalded, it was time to take her to the garage where we would finish up.
This is a two part series because of the shear amount of photos. Stay tuned, the second part is coming up.