"Green Acres" it ain't, but we love owning and visiting the Hawksbill Cabin, near Stanley and Luray, Virginia, and a wealth of outdoor activities, including: the "World Famous" Shenandoah River, Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, Luray Caverns, and Massanutten Resort. From time to time we'll post about other stuff, too.
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Monday, February 11, 2013
Butchering Day Arrives
The pigs were still asleep when their time came.
For the second year running, I’ve had the privilege of
joining some Page County friends to do a hog butchering, a two-day event that
takes place in late January or early February.
After some logistical gyrations we managed to get together last weekend
to take care of business with the hogs.
My friend Chris, who shares a hog with me, was able to make it out this
year, so we both have a stash of pork that will last until next winter now –
and in my case, it occupies my three freezers in the two houses!
(Note: I wrote about last year
as well, and if you read those posts in 2012, some of what I write over the
next three days may seem redundant. If
you haven’t read them, just click the “butchering” label at the end of this
post for access to everything I’ve posted on the topic.)
By the time I arrived at the butchering shed on Friday
morning, somewhere around 6:30, I’d already been “up and at ‘em” for a
while. I’d had a late work night
Thursday and decided postpone the drive out afterwards – so I set the alarm for
3:30 and slogged through a wintry mix that eventually would turn into a
blizzard when it made it to New England.
As it was, I just did some minor slip and slide as I carefully drove out
to Luray, making it in about two hours and twenty minutes – slightly longer
than the usual two hours door-to-door.
Literally - riding shotgun.
When I arrived, David and Chris were already inside the
shed, which was quickly warming up as the water in the scalding tub was heated
to 140 degrees. Chris had taken a look
around and David had given him the once-over on some of the equipment, but we
had some time to plan how we would divvy up the hog while we waited for the
other butchers to arrive.
They did, and at first light we went over to the farm to
kill the hogs. I photograph pretty much everything
that goes on while we doing this, and while this activity is a perfectly
natural thing, it is alarming for the first timer to watch, so I don’t share
the photos on the blog here. Although
this week I plan to include a little more detail…there may even be some videos
over on the HawksbillCabin YouTube channel!
Preparing for the deed.
The winter storm I drove through had left a dusting of snow
out on the pasture, adding an authentic country atmosphere to our activities of
the day. I literally was riding shotgun
in David’s truck, with the .22 there resting against my thigh (“Just like
Texas!” a friend wrote on Facebook).
When we finally got to the farm, we joined the others and they quickly
got out into the field to kill the pigs.
David was an efficient shot, just four bullets for the four
hogs. Jesse and Bill quickly followed,
doing the knife work. As each animal
went down, they quickly moved on to the next one so that the whole thing was
over in a minute or two – I’ve read that the animals have little regard for
their dead comrades, even if they were litter mates, but I believe there’s a
benefit to having this done with quickly and efficiently.
Once the deed is done, David picks up the carcasses with a
skid steer and moves them into his pickup, and we haul them back to the
butchering shed. That’s where the real
work of the day begins – and I’ll pick up there with tomorrow’s post.