Sunday was the big day, there was a little back anf forth about weather we would be able to do it or not as the temps in Wichita were projected to be considerably lower than where we live. Dh started getting the stuff we needed ready but you know how that goes. Anyway, soon Phelan arrived with her husband and kids and the men got working on the fire.
We stood around warming up when Melissa's hubby and oldest son arrived. Once the men got the fire up to their liking we placed a piece of hog panel over it. The barrel we had intended to use turned out to have a leak in the seam and dh had to go through every barrel on the property to find another. Wouldn't you know it, the only one without a hole was the one he'd been using in the barn to keep a bit warm when milking. After a quick wash, and then another, it was filled with water and wood ash was added. We waited around for a bit but then it was time.
We all walked over to the trailer and Phelan's hubby and dh got in with Miss Meat. Dh brought her milk as it was her favorite. As she put her head down to drink Phelan's fired the shot from their .22 rifle. NOTE: we have spent quite a bit of time researching for this day, everything from placement of the gun and the necessary angle of the shot was researched. Imagine our surprise/horror when she just stood there dazed and confused. She was not pleased but never once attacked. The second shot rang out and once again she was still standing. Our hearts sank as we heard the third and she still very much alive. The men talked to her during this time and soon Phelan's hubby was handed the knife to put her out of any misery. She twitched for a while, the books never seem to mention that.
The kids came out to see and pay their last respects. Her body was removed from the trailer, to be hung from the tree near the fire pit. There she would bleed out for an hour and a half. The men had quite a time getting her hung and AR got to go up in the tree to get the rope around. Then Dh went to wallyworld to pick up an extension cord and when he returned it was almost time to get started on the scalding. Phelan began working on getting the head off, then her hubby came with the sawzall to cut through the bone.
It was time to get the body down and into the water. When I spoke to Melissa, she mentioned that her hubby was freakishly strong and Phelan's hubby had set a dead weight lifting record, even with that much strength it took all three men to get her in to the barrel with some difficulty. Side note: in retrospect I really should have checked to make sure the tree was closer. The next time we will have to build the fire elsewhere to have some kind of leverage. Anyway, we (read: they) dunked for 20 seconds, then took her out and flipped her over to dunk the other half.
They brought her to the garage where she was to be hanged to be skinned. Side Note: when we do this again in 2 weeks, we will not be skinning the pig but scraping the hair off the body. I got to hold the camera at this point while the others took care of the skinning. Note to self, get some knives. Anyway, by the time it was done there was lots to learn about opening her up and getting the innards out. There was also the part where the whole butt and genital area had to be cut out and tied off. Later they would pull it through the other side to to get the innards out. The kids marvelled as the lungs, spleen and liver were pointed out, they were very interested and eager to see the heart. The general consensus was surprise that the organs were not wet to the touch. SIDE NOTE: innards smell like a sewer, well not as strong (as long as you don't pierce them), oh and the innards don't just fall out like the books seem to indicate. There is quite a bit of work in getting the innards out.
Dh was off milking and taking care of our other animals at this point and would check-in from time to time. We took a minute to discuss the next step as there were a few possible options. The decision was to cut the body in half (like what you'd see on tv) and then cut the hams off. The sawzall was once again used to cut down the spine. I was afraid that it wouldn't get through but sure enough it finally did. We girls got the table set up with butcher paper to wrap the parts as they were ready. The first ham was cut and wrapped and then we realised that it was too big to fit the cooler. The hoof was then cut off and it fit. We realised that the rib section would not fit so dh grabbed the roll of bags and they started to bag up the two slabs.
The innards were bagged and boxed, then burned. It was a really long day and we were all sore. Phelan will be giving the tutorial on processing the meat further soon so stay tuned. I am thinking my kids may need to go study how to do butchering, it really is an art. We all marvelled at how a single person would be able to do all that was done that day without any assistance. I imagine that the process would be a bit quicker with practice but we had lots of help. The whole thing is also not near as gruesome as one might imagine, the only real blood involved is at the beginning of the process and the rest is drained well before any real cutting happens.
Read Phelan's 2 part account of the event here and here. I'm looking for sausage, ham and bacon recipes, got any?