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Home Butchering Ain’t for Sissies. . .

It’s been awhile but I promised to talk about our hog butchering, home edition.  It wasn’t pretty. 

We brought my first kill home, along with her piglet, and as I was inside searching the phone book for a meat processor with late hours, hubby was outside in our carport with mama pig across his open pickup tailgate, cutting into her tough hide to start transforming her into pork chops. 

Before I could stop him, he was bringing into my clean kitchen pieces of fresh pork that I was supposed to package up and place in our freezer.  It wouldn’t have been so bad, but as I began to place each piece onto freezer paper, I almost gagged when I realized that there were still coarse black hairs attached.  Yuk!  So I swallowed the bile and picked the hairs out of the meat until it looked clean enough to wash and wrap up. 

The dutiful huntress and wife placed all packages in a freezer container which went into the back of the freezer until I had the stomach to bring it back out for cooking. 

Unfortunately, over a year has passed and I haven’t had the urge to bring it out.  Now it is too old and needs to be thrown out!  I was never able to forget the smell of that pig and the nasty coarse hair on my countertops.  She should have joined her little piglet offspring in the field as a free meal for nature’s predators and decomposers.  Better yet, we should have left her where she dropped. 

But it was a learning experience.  When I get the taste for pork again (if ever), I’ll buy it from the grocery store already cleaned and packaged.

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Gettin’ Mama Hog and Her Baby Outta the Dark Dark Woods

Well, I promised to tell the story of how Jimmy and I got my first kill, a wild female sow, and one of her babies, out of the woods that February day back in 2010.  We were so pumped!  He didn’t even realize that I had seen a pig until he saw me raise my little Remington 243 rifle from Walmart.  He had seen the piglet at almost the same time, so the shots from my rifle and his shotgun rang out almost simultaneously in the late afternoon stillness.  A reddish white spray was my clue that she had been hit as she took off running. 

“Did you get it?” Jimmy asked. 

“I think so,” I replied.  “I saw something spray out.”  As he took off after it, following the blood trail, I remained behind, trying not to feel as the poor piglet squealed its last few breaths away.  Jimmy’s shotgun blast had torn its throat open.

“Here she is!” I heard him call from about 50 yards away.  Picking my way through the dried leaves and branches, I soon reached him and the evidence of my first wild kill, a sow, a mama pig with teats, probably the mother of the piglet Jimmy had shot.  I felt sadness for her, but it was soon overcome with feelings of triumph and pride as I realized that I had actually killed something!

Now what to do?  There was no question we would get the pigs out of the woods, but with her weighing about 250 pounds from the looks of her, how would we manage?  We hadn’t actually planned for this part of the hunt!  Real pros.

Jimmy handed me his shotgun and backpack and proceeded to drag the sow’s dead weight about 30 yards.  It was February, but we were both in short sleeves, so it wasn’t a cold day, and the effort soon had him sweating.  It was obvious that we wouldn’t be able to take the piglet, sow, and all our gear out at once, so he left me alone with the sow and headed back to the truck with the gear and the little pig.

Let me tell you, being alone in the woods just before dusk with a dead animal is eerie.  I could feel eyes on me, as if all the sow’s friends and relatives were staring at me from the undergrowth.  I even heard rustling and feared possible attack from angry pigs.  Thank goodness I kept my rifle.  Still, I was relieved when Jimmy returned with a rope. 

It would be a good uphill trek over a creek, fallen logs, briars, and underbrush back to the pickup.  Even if we had an ATV, it wouldn’t have gotten into those thick woods.  Jimmy tied a rope around her neck and we both pulled and tugged her very ungracefully over logs, through the creek, and across the underbrush until we reached the outskirts of the woods.  It was getting dark and we still had at least an acre uphill and a fence to cross.

After changing positions and stopping several times to rest, we finally made it to the barbed wire fence that separates my brother’s horses from the creek bottom and woods of his property.  I felt as if my heart was working overtime and was actually amazed that one of us hadn’t passed out from the exertion.  We are middle-aged after all, but determination won out until we reached the fence.  The truck was just a few yards ahead, but still uphill.  Jimmy suddenly had an idea.

He climbed through the fence, went to his truck, started it up, and backed it down to the fence where we attached the other end of the rope that was tied to the pig’s neck to the trailer hitch on his truck.  Jumping back in the truck, he pulled the pig easily under the fence.  Our jubilance didn’t last long, though.  We still had to get the pig up into the bed of the truck! 

By now it was dark and we were a bloody, sweaty mess.  I feared that ticks were probably crawling all over us as well.  Oh, the joys of hunting. . .

But Jimmy had another idea. . .

He untied the rope from the truck and had me toss it over a low nearby tree branch—how handy that tree was!  He instructed me to back the truck up under the branch after he tied the rope again to the truck.  Then I pulled the truck forward, hoisting the pig up with the rope.  Then came the tricky part.  Jimmy had to hold the rope with the pig dangling while I backed up the truck directly beneath the pig so it could fall into the truck bed. 

I never even considered that it would not work.  It had to work!  And it did!  The mighty hunters had their prize!  My brother later said that he would have to put a game camera out there, not to watch game, but to watch the hunters!  It was a comedy show, but we won Man & Woman vs. Pig!

Next:  Home butchering ain’t for amateurs. . .