Grand Marshals selected for West Union Fourth of July Parade Adams County, Maysville Vet team up to save injured dog Michael S Knauff Victor P Price Success builds from the bottom up Finalists named for 2017 Fair Queen Contest William Glenn DeWine, Reader Call For Tips in Rhoden Murder Investigation MHS principal to take superintendent post Peebles Skate Park now a reality 2017-18 Fur and Feather Ambassadors named Caley Grooms is Cattlemen’s Beef Ambassador Dr. Mueller leaving Health Department’s free clinic Hourglass Quilt Barn returning to Adams County Lung, Thornburg are First Team All-District selections North Adams hosts annual Boys Basketball Camps Walk-off winner Wanda Hill George D Johnson Life can be a juggling act My favorite thing to do on the farm Wolves in Adams County! Ronald L Wedmore Three lessons from Dad Donald D Morgan Wenstrup uninjured in Virginia shooting Portman staff to hold grant funding workshop Raymond E Applegate Keeping the Peebles tradition alive Back on the hardwood, local hoops squads compete in Monday Night League Seven county athletes recognized as All-SHAC Baseball honorees Stepping to the podium Lady Hounds host Youth Volleyball Camp Senior Profile: Bryan Young Junior Deputy Boot Camps kick off in Manchester Hayes pleads “not guilty” to 109 counts Six-year-old girl finds long-lost class ring Jefferson Alumni awards annual scholarships Paul Tate Jr Marcus I Cox Jewell Gill James M Hill Jr Jeffrey S Jones Samuel A Disher Jack Sterling BREAKING NEWS: Parents face charges after son overdoses on opiate License Hikes and Tall Turkey Tales Danger under every rock Reigning Miss Ohio USA will judge 2017 Adams County Fair Queen Pageant Gordley’s hoops career will continue at Mount St. Joseph Russell C Newman Kenneth C Thurman George Uebel Summer Reading Program underway Honor Flight carries local veteran to DC When rescuers become victims Passing the torch, West Union hosts week-long basketball camp for future Dragons SENIOR PROFILE: Sara Knechtly Terry L Powell Willie Shreffler James C Fitzpatrick Senior Profile: Austin Parks Six countians named to All-SHAC Softball squad Lady Indians get summer camp season underway Memorial Day services pay tribute to local veterans WUHS Steel Band will perform at Bogart’s SSCC announces Honors Lists for spring semester Peebles Elementary releases Honor Roll for final nine weeks West Union Elementary announces Honor Roll for fourth nine weeks Back to State! Mom calls daughter “living proof” seat belts save lives Rent-2-Own donation means new soccer scoreboard at WUHS NAHS student selected for Engineering Summer Camp Southern Hills Athletic Conferences honors Spring Sports athletes Senior Profile: Kailyn Boyd Madison Welch receives Riffle Scholarship Junior Achievement Volunteers visit county’s seventh graders Marcella J Abbott James Ratliff Gladys Davitz Harry G Shupert Memories on Memorial Day A soldier’s story, a family’s grief Thank You for your sacrifice Seaman community honors local veterans with special tribute Former PES teacher dies in tragic accident All County Senior Citizens Day celebrated Parks signs with SSCC Soccer Senior Profile: Lexie Bunn Jessie Rodgers Memorial Day services set for county Truly our greatest generation Bertha Lashley Maia Swartz Jessie Rodgers Errors spell the end of Devils’ baseball season Senior Profile: Carry Hayslip Lady Hounds’ season ends with tourney loss to Paint Valley North Adams hosts Youth Volleyball Camp Time to get “Stroke Savvy”

The only part wasted was the squeal

I know Ecclesiastes 3:1 is quoted often but when reference is made to the farm I can’t think of any verse out of the Bible that fits it better. “To every thing there is a season, and a purpose under the heaven.” Can anyone look around a farm and see a crop or a piece of livestock that doesn’t fit this verse?

No truer is it than this time of year, the time to butcher the hogs. For some reason our farm was where pigs grew into huge 400 plus pound hogs ready for slaughter, but we seemed also the place designed to handle the day of slaughter and the following days of processing all the meat into supplies of food to nourish our bodies for the coming year. We had the scalding pan and the places to hang the sides to chill. We had the meat house with a long bench to cut the sides of a hog into cuts of meat and wrap it or prepare it for the next step which was to sugar cure and put it in a smoke house to hickory cure some cuts.

Let me try to put the butchering process into some sequence of order. First, the hog was shot and the jugular cut to bleed out the hog. If not done quickly, the blood runs into the meat and ruins it all for consumption. From there, the hog is taken to the scalding pan full of hot 150 degree water and dipped into it repeatedly until the hair can be scraped of by special tools. From there the hogs were hung by their back legs until the head was a couple of feet off the ground and then it is gutted and sawed into halves and left to chill out until the next morning when the meat is almost frozen and ready to be cut. We prepared three hogs for our own use. Dad sold hogs to my aunt and uncle, retired neighbors, and even our hired hand got a hog. Some of the families in Moscow would also buy a hog. I have seen as many as 18 hogs hung to chill by the end of a day.

The work was very hard and had to be done quickly and accurately. I will say from all I have described so far I found slaughter day grisly and hard to deal with. Honestly for all the men who helped, and there were many, I saw few taking pleasure or real enjoyment in this process. This is a part of how life was and how we survived, just as all those before us had. At the same time the way it had to be done was with the understanding that doing it right would help it taste good in the end.

By early afternoon the mood changed to less serious as the first hog hung would have the tender loin removed and taken to the house where my Mom along with some of the other wives would slice the loin into inch thick slices and then butterfly it and place it into a skillet for cooking. While they were cooking, Mom had pans of baking soda biscuits along with mashed potatoes and usually green beans to round out the meal.

When the tender loins were done, Mom would make a skillet full of white pork gravy. Once the food was on the table, the men consumed it all immediately, as this was not only a tasty meal, but a long morning of hard work just made it taste even better. After eating the men’s spirits rose to the point of them being ready to go back out and get the day’s job done.

Early on the next morning, everyone went to the meat house and as the sides were brought in one by one each person processed their respective part of the hog that they had been assigned. I liked day two as the blood shed was over and as the sides were brought in they were minus the head. To me this made it less personal as their glazed eyes were no longer staring at me so blankly.

A hog weighing over 400 pounds carried a lot of fat and the fat was cut into cubes and placed into an iron kettle that was built on to a wood box under it. The fire caused the fat to melt and the rendering of the lard began. There were hours and hours of cooking and stirring until the cubes would squeeze flat at which point the cubes and liquid lard would be ladled into a device that allowed the hot grease to drain out a spout and into a five- gallon crock pot for cooling and storage. A lid with a threaded device on top was used to squeeze the rest of the grease out of the cubes of fat leaving only a packed together cake formation of the pork skins that were referred to as the “cracklins.” While fresh and hot, they might possibly be the tastiest morsel you probably have never had the pleasure to eat.

This took days and nights to complete but when the work was complete there was no doubt that our family and everyone that invested in a hog were set to eat well for another year and were thankful that the time for this blessing had come again. There is an old German saying that when a hog is butchered there is to be no waste and that every part of the hog has a use and therefore must be used. So when the scalding pan was put away for another year, they would say “ The only part of that hog wasted was the squeal.”

Rick Houser was raised on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.

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The Good Old Days

Rick Houser

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