Well if the neighbors didn't think we were crazy before, I KNOW they do now. We bought a whole pig from a local farmer and decided to do the butchering ourselves to save money. After reading Little House in the Big Woods, my children wanted to try some of the things considered "treats" by Laura and Mary. So we saved weird things like the whole head, tongue, bladder, heart, fat and even the tail. We wanted to waste as little as possible. We even took the carcass back to the farmer for their chickens to peck on.Josiah wanted to save the head to make head cheese. He didn't understand that isn't like the cheese you make out of milk. When I looked up the instructions on-line, he changed his mind and instead decided to just eat the jowls and tongue. I made him wash it really good. There was an amazing biology lesson in just the head, let alone the rest of the pig. He located where the spinal cord goes into the brain, and all kinds of other things.
I gave him an old hair brush to scrub the pig's head clean, and after he scrubbed it, he did the pig's hair. Not sure that the pig cared about it's hair-do at this point! We brined the pig's head overnight in a bucket just to be sure we got all the germs killed.
Josiah and Hailey dissected the heart, then fried it up into chunks and ate it. They made samples for everyone, complete with toothpicks. We were just learning about the heart in Farmer Boy so this was another wonderful biology lesson.
In Little House in the Big Woods, one of the special treats Laura remembered was roasting the pig's tail. Michael skinned it and then we bbq'ed it. Josiah proclaimed it delicious!
I know it looks like Josiah is licking the tongue, but he was actually holding his tongue up next to the pig's to compare how big the pig's tongue was to his. Josiah and Michael really liked it bbq'ed, too. They both said it was very tender.
This was such a great father/son project. They both worked at getting the fat off of everything so we could cook it down in the crockpot and have lard to make our favorite milk soap recipe.
Michael is figuring out all the cuts. We didn't have the right equipment, so some of it was hacked up pretty good, but we learned a lot and did much better with the next half of the pig that we cut up for my sis. Michael is cutting the pork belly to make bacon out of. That is my project for next week.
Cutting pork chops. All he had was a skinning knife and a dull saw he's meant for cutting up an elk in the field. We will be on the lookout for some better tools next time. Still, I was impressed at how well Michael did with what he had.
This is Josiah's plate of bbq-ed meat that night. he had tongue, tail and cheek meat. I had some cheek meat, and it was very good, but after cutting up the pig all day, it was just a little too much for my squeamish self. I learned that I need to wait a day or two after butchering to enjoy the meat. It was just a "fresher" than I was prepared for.
It is nice to have some meat in the freezer and we saved over a $100 by doing it ourselves. We aren't done yet. We have all the smoking to do next and sausage to make. I got about 15 lbs of lard off this pig, which will make our soap for the year.
I hope I haven't grossed you at too much. I made sure there weren't any bloody pictures, so hopefully it wasn't too much if you are squeamish like me.
Have a great weekend, everyone!