Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Bacon Rashers were 50/50 Fat and Lean

Flitch of Bacon Pair of hams

This is what I remember about the day the pig was killed, it happened a bit more that once a year and everything and everyone had to be ready for when the butcher came with his gun.

We watched all this when we were kids, fingers in our ears,
Then bang the butcher shot him, and cut its throat mid tears,

Every house and cottage in the village had a pig sty, and the farms had three or four sty's where they would keep an old sow and breed there own pigs needed for fattening. There would be only one boar in the area and most of the sows would be taken to visit him at the appropriate time.

The cottagers would buy a weaner and feed it mostly on scraps from the house and garden, nothing was ever wasted, if it was edible (for the pig) it was fed to it. Bare in mind that most had big families and a large cultivated garden, and all vegetables and fruit were grown and some would be preserved for winter use. Potatoes and carrots hogged, onions dried and strung up fruit bottled and apples trayed and stored and of coarse there was always a hen run for eggs and some for killing for the table.

Back to the pig, as it got fat, and I mean fat, not like the lean "baconer" types of today, you would start think about its slaughter, and where the village pig bench was, and clear a clean place for it to be killed. Also you would need to think about where to hang it up for it to "set" for five or six days.

On the pig killing day at home, the boiler would be filled and boiling ready, pig bench scrubbed off, the butcher would set out his equipment, including his pistol, and a noose that would be put over the pigs snout and behind the pigs fang top teeth. Butcher did the leading and two more pushing from behind to encourage the pig out of the sty where it had resided almost all its life.

Along side the pig bench the pigs legs were lifted from under it and rolled onto the bench then without any hesitation the butcher put the pistol to its head and shot it. It was a struggle to keep it on the bench as its legs whipped and flailed, while the knife went into its throat. A bucket was on hand to catch the blood for the black pudding, and thing quietened down as the kicking stopped.

All the while this was going on us kids would be peeping round the corner as the squealing and noise and the gun going we had our fingers in our ears, also the gushing of blood frightened us. Then one at a time we went in closer to see the steaming pig being scraped after hot water was poured over it. Then saw the butcher dip the pigs feet in the scalding water as if to clean them only to realise in the back of his scraper was a big hook which he hooked into the pigs trotter and ripped the hoof off each of its toes.

Next they cut a slot in the pigs hocks and inserted a "tree" , its like a heavy wooden coat hanger that they will lift the pig up to the beam above.
As if he was drawing a line down the middle of the pigs belly, the butcher stroked his sharp knife gently down to reveal the pigs guts. As these gradually oozed out into a wheel barrow that was put in place for them to slide into,

Useful things like the kidneys heart and liver were saved and hung up on a butchers hook. Inside there was what they called a vale, which was also saved, this was to wrap faggots and had a certain amount of fat in the webbing. Off with the trotters and the head, and then it was left to "set".
The cutting up came some days later the main quarters left whole to be salted down, some fresh pork was saved for immediate use, and some pork went to some friends who also killed a pig some months before.

The head was boiled and the meat and brains was compacted into big basins to make brawn and the jelly stock from the boiled trotters poured over to top the basins up level. When covered these would keep for a reasonable while, and tipped out then sliced and used as you would corned beef.
During the war time rationing you were supposed to get permission to kill a pig but I suspect a good many got them killed and distributed without anyone knowing.

"Trotters Pigs Trotters" was printed last week 6.11.11 showing the pig bench as well.

The Cottage Pig Sty

Cottages had a pig sty, as most houses did,
Fatten up a piglet on scraps from house is fed,
Kept it eight or ten months, till it's good and fat,
Shame to see it come to its end, often had a chat.

Always had a name, knew when its time for food,
For this its always ready, door it often chewed,
Killed for pork and bacon, hams in salt well cured,
Hanging in the pantry, muslin covered till matured.


There is no power on earth that can neutralise the influence of a high, simple, and useful life.Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)

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