Posted in Back in the Day, Chicken Scratch, Hen Pecked, Hogs, Pork, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

Hog Butcherin’ Time

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Across the scarcely covered mountains, an icy breeze brings a hint of a woodstove burnin’ from somewhere, where ya’ll know the folks are all toasty and warm. Inside, a there sits a hot cast iron, fresh sausage fryin’ or maybe a hearty sausage and tater soup simmers on the stove. Sure enough, bread or buttermilk biscuits are bakin’ in the oven. Its comfortin’ smell lingers through an entire household just anxiously waitin’. These things make the winter months worth sufferin’. I’m a Spring -hen myself. I like the grass between my toes. Love a river when the sun is warm. But even this chick has to admit, Some things just stir the soul durin’ the cold season and those things make it worth goin’ into. Hog butcherin’ might just be one of em.

I could probably live off the country sausage. Shoot, I ain’t never turned my nose up at Italian either. I love the way it smells when cookin’ and I love the way I feel after gobblin’ some up. We raised four hogs, this year. Two regular, mixed, Yorkshire and Tamworths. Maybe one was part Hereford. Then we tried out hand at two American Guinea Hogs. Those will hang up this weekend or next– dependin’ on the weather. Interested to know how those measure up…which will decide whether or not we raise em next year.

Still, for the past several weekends, my husband and Uncle have been knee deep in the butcher house. His hogs, my hogs, their hogs. It’s an age-long tradition that folks don’t do too much of anymore. Oh, they’ll buy one already raised or butchered up, but not many actually get in there and do it themselves from the little one too big. I know once I’ve butchered, it’s hard to keep em in the freezer. Folks wantin’ it, not to mention what we can easily eat ourselves. Bottom line, though, to me, it’s a clean meat. And by clean, I mean, I know what that hog ate from beginnin’ to end. I know it’s health as we were the one’s keepin’ it healthy. I know what’s in the seasoning of, the cookin’ of, the processin’ of. No preservatives. No big unpronounceable word-poisons. Just the meat. Clean. I can’t describe the deep satisfaction of that. When I serve it to my family, the deeply satisfied feelin’ that I am givin’ them somethin’ as healthy as I can possibly provide. Not to mention the lessons my children learn about traditions, about having a respect and responsibility, some control over their food.

Homesteaders — those who are coinin’ that phrase— are doin’ it and, most certainly, ones who live off grid. Whether you Cure the hams or cut pork chops or grind it all into sausage, though, there’s lots to be made and had from Hogs, which may be why some are jumpin’ in, on the whole, raisin’ them up again bandwagon.

Throughout this week–time permittin’– and possibly month–if time doesn’t turn out to e my friend, I’m going to post up recipes for pork and most likely, sausage. Hope you enjoy……

And if you are lookin’ for recipes in general, of what I already have, check out The Hungry Hen and all the categories within’!

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Posted in Hen Pecked, Hogs, Misc. Nature, Uncategorized

And this Little Piggy Went….

 

16388378_10154099731321993_1950383878762689848_nWe’ve been preparing for hogs for some time now. My husband has experience with hogs, not me. We were doing them with a Family Member but because of the distances between where we live– an entire mtn dividing us– we felt it wasn’t fair to him, who was doing everything, and well, we were missing out ourselves by not being involved. I enjoy interacting with my animals on a daily bases and so does my husband. In a world that is crazy and often spins out of control, being around our little barnyard releases the stress and pressure. Sometimes the work comes at inconvenient times but overall, I can’t complain. We don’t have a lot of land here, though, so I have to be careful what we bring in. That’s why we decided on something that is old and nearly forgotten…

The American Guinea Hog 16388422_10154099731336993_6942342104205795957_n

These hogs are called many things. Just to name a few, Acorn Eaters, Forest Hogs, and Yard Pigs. Over 200 years old, they range in sizes from 150- 300 pounds. Around 6 months of age, they should be around 75 pounds– which makes them a great butcher size if that’s your goal. Meat is perfectly marbled and the lard peels easily.

In general, they are a smaller hog and easier to handle. While they don’t do a lot of the damage the larger hogs are known for, Guinea Hogs, were very helpful back in the day when gettin’ Gardens ready for planting season wasn’t as easy as turnin’ on a tiller.

I have mine in the Garden now – wanting to test them out. They dig just enough, the way a tiller would. Since they are slower growing, I got mine now so they would be ready to butcher come next Fall or Winter. Another reason I got them, I want them fertilizing, churnin’ up the soil, and eating up all the roots (to help me avoid weeds come summer) in my Garden during colder months.

There is a benefit to the cost of keepin’ them too. See, the greatest thing about these hogs is the fact that they are resourceful scavengers. I worry that if something were to happen, if I was unable to get Feed, could these animals make it without store-bought help. When choosing chickens or anything for my small farm, I take that into consideration. These pigs win the prize for that trait.

Guineas can, if given enough space to free-range, fend for themselves. In fact, if you have a Guinea and you aren’t letting them live off grass, grubs and whatever else they can find, you are missing out and putting a dent in your wallet unnecessarily. Let them work and find the majority of their food on their own. This is what makes them perfect for the small homesteader.

And since they are a smaller hog, if no one if here to help come Butcher time, we can handle it on our own. That’s something else people should consider. Are you butchering yourself? If you are, are you capable of handling huge hogs? Do you have a tractor or hoist to hang them? Do you have a space big enough to clean and work up the meat?

Guineas, by being smaller, are easier to handle and work with. They have a red meat, a good marble, and to some, are considered more lean. Lard, of course, will depend on the space they have, if they are being fed and fattened or allowed to free-range some and how long you keep them.

For our piggies, since they were born November, putting them around 4 months old, we are starting them out on a Show-pig Starter. After that, we will move to regular feed for pigs, also allowing them to hunt their own food out the older they get. My property has woods, so this will be a perfect area for them especially once I move them out of my garden area.

If you are interested in raising Hogs but are unaure if you can handle one, then I suggest the American Guinea Hog. Something that maybe easier for you to handle and get adapted to. They are also scarce in numbers, which is a crying shame. Another reason I chose them. I think there are only 200 registered in the US, and 2000 worldwide? I like dealing with breeds that were prized once upon a time but are now seeing critical lists. Makes me feel better doing what I do. As if I am preserving a piece of the past.