Monday, December 23, 2013

Hog Butchering 2013

Amidst the carols, church services, and cookie baking - my family always butchers some hogs right before Christmas. It is a tradition that goes back long before I was born. And it has become a tradition here on this blog to share the day with you.

But if you don't like to view raw meat, or contemplate the origin of your bacon, please skip this post.

Saturday morning began early, long before dawn. We decided to spend the night at my parent's house so that Ed could help with the barn chores and the children could fulfill their desire to not miss one bit of the excitement. I think all our children were up soon after 4:00 a.m. Sheer craziness if you ask me, but they certainly didn't miss anything!

One of the first jobs is to get the water boiling in the kettles. Feeding the fire would be an all-day job.

A fire was also started in the scalding tank. The hogs are dipped into the hot water.

Then the hair is scraped off. This is one of those old-time traditions. Most butchers would skin the hog and not bother with scraping off the hair.

After the hog is cleaned and gutted, the halves are laid out on tables and the meat cutting begins.


With many hands, within a few hours, four hogs averaging 430 pounds apiece are turned into tables full of meat.


My dad trains in some of the younger generation to clean skins.


Adding wood to the fire to keep the kettles boiling is another good job for the cousins.

The meat scraps are combined with seasonings and ground for sausage.


We often buy casings for sausage, but this year, we cleaned
the intestines for casing.


Making sausage links.

Some of the meat is smoked in a smoker my brother made. Smoking for a few hours adds such great flavor to tenderloin, sausage, and pork chops.


A lull in the work is a good time to break for lunch.


The fat is boiled down to make lard and needs almost constant watching.


Nothing is wasted. Head meat and organ meat are also cooked.


These meats are used to make "puddin' meat".


Flour, cornmeal, and seasonings are combined with the broth to make pon haus (also known as scrapple depending upon where you live!)


My dad takes a break with a few grandsons.


Wrapping and vacuum packing the meat.


Pouring the pon haus into pans signals the end of another butcher day. Now only the clean-up needs to be completed. The bacon and hams are carried to the smokehouse.

We drift toward home with filthy dirty children, a trunk full of meat, weary bodies, and fun memories of working together.

Want to see more photos of past hog butchering day? Check out these links.
2012 Butchering
2011 Butchering
2010 Butchering


  1. This is awesome. I wish I had family with such skills and desire to provide for each other. What a way to bond and learn. Merry Christmas :)

    P.s. Those hogs were HUGE!

  2. I am in awe of you and your family! Such wonderful traditions to pass from each generation to the next. Thank you for posting about the event. Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas!

  3. I always enjoy your hog butchering photo journal! Especially enjoy seeing the Grandparents teaching, and "lovin' up" on the youngsters, as we say in the South!
    Merry Christmas and blessed New Year to you and yours!!

  4. I love this post! So what happens with the skin after the hair is scraped off? I mean, what's the old fashioned advantage to doing it this way? Just curious.

    1. Well, you have probably heard that the old-timers used everything but the squeal. It is almost true. I guess it would have been wasteful to throw out the skin! After the skin is scraped and cleaned, it is boiled in water with some of the organs like kidneys and liver. The resulting broth is used for pon haus and I think the skin and other cooked meat is ground up and used in the puddin'.

      I'm always amazed at how little waste there is at the end of the day. The innards, hair, and some bones is all that is discarded! But whether that is an advantage could probably be debated!

  5. We don't do butchering ourselves but we have plenty of relatives that do. It is nice to learn new things all the time, especially with a group. I spent the Saturday a couple weeks ago with my sister and it was the weekend her husband's family gathers to make popcorn balls. They have been doing this for years, they grow popcorn. 35 people made 80 dozen popcorn balls. They have whole system, same thing with older teaching younger.

  6. How wonderful to be in the position where you can do this! Pray you have a wonderful New Year


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