Sunday, June 21, 2009

Part - 14k - Goats and Hogs


We had another pasture, across the road from the house and alongside the cow pasture that Daddy kept hogs and goats in.

The goats were always a headache. They would stick their heads through the net wire fence to eat and would get their horns hung in the fence.
Every evening after we got in from school, we’d listen to see if we could hear a goat bleating, over the hill, get the "Jim Brown Pliers" (fence Pliers that had been ordered form the Jim Brown Catalog), and some hay wire, and go cut the fence to get the goat out. Then, we'd repair the fence with the haywire.

Several of the Colored People would come by to buy a goat just before July fourth to barbecue. We would usually butcher one along then, too. In later years, we'd have a big family reunion and barbecue one or two goats, a sheep, some ribs and chickens. Mmmm, Good!!!

At one time, we had twenty-seven goats in the pasture, and dogs got started to killing them. All in all, we killed eight dogs, including one of ours, people got rid of four dogs, and they killed twenty-five of the goats. The two remaining ones had gotten so wild that we couldn't get anywhere near them. One day James Turner, Old Bee's boy, stopped by to see if we had a goat he could get for "the 4th day!" I told him we'd have to shoot it to get it. He said okay, so we found both of them in the old CCC gravel pit. I killed them both, sold him one and skinned the other. That put us out of the goat business for a long time.

We always kept enough hogs for all the family and friends to eat and some lard to trade for groceries at Mr. Kimbrough's store. Usually, Daddy would take about four or five hogs at a time and put them in a pen at a time so they could be fattened up. Then on a very cold day, we'd have "a Hog killin'."

Daddy would shoot them right between the eyes with the .22 rifle, and they'd fall dead immediately. Then he would "stick them" by taking a sharp pointed knife and cut their jugular veins so they would bleed well.

They were taken to a place where boards were laid out on the ground and a drum of very hot water was tilted so the hog could be dipped into it, then pulled out and the hair would come off easily. If the water was too hot, the hair would "set" and you'd almost have to shave the hair off. When all the hair had been scraped off the hog, it was hung on the "gamblin' pole" with "gamblin' sticks" strung through a slit cut between the back leg and hamstring. Then, it was gutted and all the entrails saved for more work later.

After it was gutted and cleaned out, it was laid out on the "Meat bench" along the south side of the smokehouse to be cut up, and the fat parts cut up in about one to 1 ½ inch squares for making lard and cracklins. The meat was packed down with salt in large wooden boxes until it was time to start smoking it and curing-it-out.

Nothing was wasted from a hog except the gall bladder, the bladder (some folks would make a "football" out of the bladder), and the hard part of the hooves. Some say everything was saved from the "rooter" to the "tooter!"

Meanwhile, all the entrails were being attended to. The lights (lungs), heart and liver were prepared for cooking. The small intestines were washed and washed and washed to get all the "mess" out and they were used for stuffing sausage. The large intestines were cleaned similar to the small ones and prepared to be cooked as chitterlings.

The brain was saved and it and the head were used to make souse (hogshead cheese), and some of the brains were cooked with scrambled eggs for breakfast the next day. The feet were saved and "pickled" for good eating later.

The "scrap", mostly lean meat was cut up into small pieces to be run through the sausage grinder to make sausage after proper seasonings were thoroughly mixed into the ground meat. Later, some of the sausage was stuffed into the small intestines for link sausage and the rest was made into "patties" and placed into a lard can and sealed with melted fat or canned.

A day or so later, the big wash pot from the spring was brought down and thoroughly rinsed to remove any soap remaining in it. A big fire was built around the pot and the cut up pieces of fat were thrown into the pot to boil out the fat (lard). The lard was strained into large metal cans and allowed to cool. When it cooled, it set up into a semi-hard state and turned white.

After all the lard was cooked out of the meat, it became cracklings and were kept in lard cans in the smokehouse and used for making "cracklin' cornbread." Sometimes one or two of Florence Land's children would come to the back door and say, "Miss Nora. Mama say send her a nickel's worth of crackers!" That would be a gallon syrup bucket full.

When the meat had been salted down for a while, it and the link sausage had to be smoked. One of the hands would scout around and find a clump of "bear grass" (Palmetto) to be boiled, making the tines flexible and strong. After all the salt was washed off the meat, a slit was cut into the hams, sides of bacon, etc., the bear grass was run through the slit and tied in a knot. Pieces of meat and links of sausage were strung on poles and hung across joists of the smokehouse. Mother would build a very slow burning fire out of green oak wood, shut up the door and windows and let the smokehouse fill with the pungent oak smoke, seasoning and curing out the meat, giving it that good smoked taste.

No one was paid money to help during hog killing time. They were paid in meat. The last hog killing we had was on a January first. We killed eight hogs. More than one hog was given to pay the help.

Boy! Wouldn't it be good to go out to the smokehouse and thick slice one of those hams, fry it, make red-eye gravy for grits, have some good cat head biscuits cooked in the old Home Comfort stove's oven with home churned butter and homemade cane syrup, have a couple of fresh fried yard eggs, and a good glass of fresh milk and "Jest Dive In!!!!!"

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