Pig day

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Our 6 month old Wessex saddleback boar pigs

The next few photos are of the pig slaughtering process, with commentary, to help others who want to raise their own meat or understand a process that has mostly been forgotten in modern times.

Our pigs have lived happy lives in the paddock above for the past few months. They have been able to express their pig-ness, and have enjoyed a diet of acorns, whey, scraps, and local gmo-free grains. Their natural behaviour is to search for roots in the ground with their snouts, turning over some of the soil in a gentle way, and also manuring it. They feed the soil life and prepare the ground for new plants to grow.

Vegetarians might want to stop reading this now.

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This photo was taken around a minute after the first one.  They are too busy eating to notice that a gun is pointed at them. Both are quickly shot in the head, one after the other.

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The first pig is rolled down the hill to our driveway. After the nerves have stopped twitching, the butcher cuts into the leg and puts a butcher’s hook in, to hoist the pig up on a chain that’s attached to his ute.

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The pig’s throat is cut while I hold a bucket underneath to collect blood for black pudding. A lot of blood comes out to begin with, then it slows to a trickle.

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A bath is filled with water at exactly the right temperature. The hair and outer layer of skin is scraped off with a spade. It’s important to do this step as soon as possible after the kill, so that the warmth left in the body helps keep the temperature stable.

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The hair that couldn’t be scraped with the spade rips out easily using hands.

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More hair is scraped off while the pig is still warm from the water

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More scraping. The cheeks are removed, they are a good cut for slow roasting and one of the first bits we eat.

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The pig is cut down the belly. Lungs, heart, liver and kidneys come out and are put aside for using in recipes.

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Stomach and intestines come out next. My friend is holding the caul fat in her hands. This fat can be used to wrap sausages, terrines, pates and so on. The intestines can be cleaned and used to make sausages.

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The pigs are cut down the middle with an electric saw to be hung at a cold temperature, ready for us to cut up in a couple of days. It’s now that we notice the good amount of backfat on them that we can render to use as a nourishing cooking fat and for coating prosciutto.

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The heads are removed, and the pigs are hung in an open shed from the rafters using rope and scap wood. Next time they will hang up higher than this. There was a small amount of damage from birds to the last pig we processed, next time we might hire a mobile coolroom or cover the pigs with muslin.

I will be writing some more posts about raising pigs and processing them for meat soon.

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