When kids know best Giving some love to those dog days Junior Fair BBQ again a big success Beulah B James Senior Profile: Josie Myers Lady Indians place second at Ohio Classic in Hillsboro MVCA dominates Greyhounds in 45-0 triumph For Lady Devils, SHAC streak goes to 55 matches 9/11: Sixteen years later Gertrude Gibson Defender Bowl coming Sept. 16 Joyce A Walker Virginia R Young Senior Profile: Abby Campton West Union hosts 2017 Dragon Run New gridiron history begins for Peebles Trout, fire, and blueberry fields forever Senior Profile: Baylee Justice Lady Devils win SHAC thriller at Eastern Brown From Blue Creek to the Beaneaters Tough loss for Greyhounds in season opener Turning tragedy into hope What we learn from failure Absolutely had to get the wrinkles out Frances S Kidder Leo Trotter 41st Bentonville Festival set to begin Sept. 8 Winchester celebrates its history during three-day street fair Cruisefest returning to streets of Peebles Blue Creek- a community in transition honors its history and heritage Cuteness Galore – Winchester Homecoming Festival Baby Show Ronnie L Day Cast your vote for the Adams County Fairgrounds Nelson E Atkinson Ryan L Colvin Richard Tackett William L Tadlock Penny Pollard Wendell Beasley West Union soccer drops pair at Mason County Lady Indians go down in straight sets Senior Profile: Michael Gill Senior Profile: Katie Sandlin Royals dominate in big win over North Adams Dragons continue County Cup domination Archaeology Day returns to Serpent Mound Hourglass Quilt Square is back up again Manchester family hosts International Guests History, farming, and family- the bedrock of Cherry Fork’s community Bus drivers, emergency responders prepare for coming school year Working up a real good sweat What’s behind the motive? Rondal R Bailey Jr Thelma J Yates She’s all grown up now Scott A Yeager Soccer talent on display at 2017 SHAC preview Baseball community mourns the loss of Gene Bennett Winchester Homecoming Festival is Aug 25-27 Eleanor P Tumbleson Felicity man killed in Ohio River boating accident WUHS golfers take Portsmouth Invitational It was pretty cold that day Volleyball kicks off with SHAC Preview Night Young awarded Women’s Western Golf Foundation Scholarship One Mistake Senator Portman visits GE Test Facility in Peebles Adams County school districts facing some major challenges for the coming year Family, friends, and roots: the ties that bind residents of one Adams County village What is your strength? Just the chance to take a look back Ronnie L Wolford Dale J Marshall Herbert Purvis Great American Solar Eclipse coming Aug. 21 BREAKING NEWS: West Union wins fifth consecutive County Cup Wallace B Boden John L Fletcher Lady Indians golfers learning the links North Adams, West Union golfers open 2017 seasons This Labor Day, ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ Blanton announces candicacy for Court of Appeals Local student attends Congress of Future Medical Leaders MHS welcomes new principal Made in America When it feels like you’re spinning plates Bonfires and “building” a farm Lady Devils looking to take that next step 50 years of Bengal memories Ag Society delivers donation to Dragonfly Foundation Young Memorial Scholarship awarded to a pair of local seniors ‘Musical passion is in his blood’ Naylor named NAHS Principal Boldman retiring after 17 years as Homeless Shelter director Manchester concludes another River Days celebration Drug Treatment vs. Prison James R Brown Bobby Lawler Jr Adams County man charged with killing estranged girlfriend Lexie N Hopkins

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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