Cutting up a pig without a saw

how to

Before our pig kill (see this post) we had discussed what we wanted to do with each part of the pig. To keep costs down, we just had the mobile butcher here on one day to do the kill, hair removing, gutting, and sawing the pigs in half and leaving them to hang for a day before we would cut them up ourselves. If we wanted him to cut them into pieces he would probably have to come back another day.

We’ve never before cut pigs up ourselves, and how we handled it is a bit different to the process I’ve seen elsewhere because we didn’t have a saw. Every other instruction around is for how to do it with a saw, so I will write about how we did this using only 6” (15cm) boning knives, and maybe a firewood axe and a good aim (depending on how the spine has been cut).

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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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Perfection

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I am not that great at describing foods. I sometimes laugh at the descriptions on the back of wine bottles, and at the obsessions that plague the cosmopolitan boomer-inspired worlds of recipes and restaurants, when to me there is just nothing like simple foods created traditionally, and there’s not much to say except ‘perfect’.

This cheese deserves praise though. I will post pictures of it and tell its story.

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This cheese was the last cheese I made this year, towards the end of March when I switched back to once a day milking. I’ve had a few hard cheesemaking fails this season due to my rennet being old and stored badly, but there is just nothing like homemade hard cheese, raw and full of flavour from wild cultures, so I persist in trying them every so often. This one used a ‘washed curd’ technique that gouda and havarti use, I used some of my homemade viili yoghurt as starter, and I probably made it on a fruit day in the biodynamic calendar. I used an 800g cheese mould, using 5-6 litres of goats milk.

Lately my land and house have been wanting to grow camembert-style rinds. As this cheese became soft-looking as it aged, and the sides of the rind ‘splooged’ (for lack of a technical word) I noticed a beautiful white rind forming on the splooged bits. At some point it stabilised, but I eyed this off every time I tended to the cheeses, wondering if it would be similar to camembert when I cut it open.

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We cut it open the other night, it was like no other cheese I’ve had. Cheese perfection that doesn’t fit into any little cheese category in a book. This cheese can’t be replicated with packets of cultures and milk from the shop, it is just like all good foods should be, an expression of the land that makes it.

I sat it next to the ripening chorizos and saucisson secs in the larder, to spread the white bloom.

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Nostalgia

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We’ve moved into our house in the forest. We haven’t built the mud room/wood storage area yet so every morning I tromp towards the door in my muddy boots and leave bottles of fresh goat milk on the doorstep before taking my boots off.

During my husband’s childhood milk was still delivered each day in glass bottles, a layer of cream would rise to the top. The bottles would be washed and returned, reused again and again. In my childhood memory is milk still being delivered, but by then it was homogenised and in plastic-lined cartons. The old system of reusing the glass bottles was not done with any thoughts of sustainability, it was just the way things were. It made sense to reuse bottles rather than throwing everything into landfill, or throwing it in the recycling pile to be melted down and turned into another single-use plastic item with the use of a lot of energy. At some point in time it became so cheap to simply make new things all the time, and it became so easy to just throw everything in landfill without a thought that the culture of reuse stopped. This happened more recently with a raw milk farm we were buying from, the farmer decided it was taking too much time to clean the bottles and started using single-use plastic bottles. No thought is given to how much time it took for the oil to form in the earth to make this plastic, how long it will take to break down in landfill, how much time it would take to create these bottles if the specialised bottle-making machines were to break down, or what the end result will be of all the tiny particles of plastic seeping into our soil and water, all that is thought of is the inconvenience of washing something versus the perception of an easy and quick solution.

One of the earliest lightbulbs ever made still functions today. The businesses that made lightbulbs quickly realised that they would make more money if their products had to be bought again and again, rather than being made to last.

The other day I saw an advertisement on an ice cream fridge for a new flavour of ice cream. I could only see half the name and thought it said “red vegetable”. The corporation had become so desperate for new and exciting things that they were now trying to make vegetable flavoured ice creams, to appeal to people seeking new things for the sake of the newness of things. It turns out it wasn’t really red vegetable flavour, but I’ll remember it because it prompted some nostalgic thoughts about the amount of foods around when we were growing up. We had treats sometimes, but it was usually in small quantities, and it usually was a particular thing or another, to be eaten as a treat, rather than eaten because it was new and we had to try it. I don’t remember there being any overweight or obese children growing up in the 80s and 90s.

Autumn leaves now drift gently down from the trees while cold winds stir the evergreens, bringing cold gusts of air while the sun radiates the last warmth of summer. Night falls earlier and earlier every day. Soon our wood stove will be ready and our nights will be warmed with fire.

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How to Make Butter

All you need to make butter is a bowl, a whisk, and some cream.

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The cream should have no additives, just cream, and if it’s créme fraiche for making cultured butter, then it will have cultures as well (here’s my recipe for culturing cream at home).

Put the cream in the bowl and whisk. After a fair amount of whisking it will become whipped cream. Continue whisking and whisking and the whipped cream will become more yellow. Soon after this you’ll begin to see some liquid forming. Continue whisking, more of the buttermilk will separate from the butter.

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You don’t have to do all the whisking at once, you can come back to it every now and then. Or you can use a stand mixer or hand mixer.

Once it looks as though all the buttermilk that’s going to come out has been released, strain the butter over a mixing bowl, reserving the buttermilk for recipes.

Put the butter in a bowl of very cold water. Knead with your hands a few times to release even more of the remaining milk.

Drain the water and replace with more very cold water. Knead again.

Remove the butter from the water, kneading as much water out of it as you can. Shape it and store it in beeswax wraps or glass jars. Enjoy!

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Cultured butter with buttermilk scones, créme fraiche, and honey-sweetened jam.

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Salad with Cheese

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I’ve never successfully made a hard cheese with a natural rind before.

On a biodynamic fruit day, back when we still had Buttercup the cow, I mixed some of her milk with some of our goats milk, cultured it, sort-of followed an asiago recipe (I am not so good with all the continuous stirring), pressed it, salted it, and put it in the makeshift cheese cave to age. Roughly once a week, mostly on other biodynamic fruit days, I would tend to the cheese. I would rub more salt on it, brush it, to keep the growth of some things in check, and to help it form a rind. For months I looked at this cheese every week, wondering what it would taste like.

After around five months I cut into it. It’s probably the best cheese we’ve ever tasted!

Today I made this salad with it. Feta is really good in this, as is any hard cheese, or you can use chopped walnuts instead. This is a good salad to make ahead of time, it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, just make sure the squash has fully cooled down before you add it to the spinach.

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Salad with Cheese
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Strategies to move away from cities: Market gardening in small spaces

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Photo credit: here

One of the things many folks struggle with when wanting to move to rural areas is income. Since the increased mechanisation of farming less people are needed to work in mainstream farming operations, and there aren’t many jobs available in these areas. People in cities often feel trapped in them, under the assumption that they need a typical ‘job’ in the country in order to move there.

For most people, a move to the country will involve needing to find a local source of income. Market gardening offers us the opportunity to create our own secure jobs in rural areas.
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An easier way to make soft cheese

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Chévre. After fermenting for 12 hours you can see the curd has separated from the whey.

Chévre is pretty easy to make to begin with, but it usually begins with boiling water and sterilising everything in the boiling water, which adds extra time and hassle to the process.

I’ve been getting massive cravings for chèvre, so much that I even looked at soft goats cheese in the shop (before quickly moving away, knowing that I can make better stuff at home) and knew I had to make some soon, so instead of my usual method of boiling water, sterilising everything that’s going to touch the milk with the boiling water, then heating cold milk up in a saucepan to the right temperature I just added some milk kefir (around 2 tablespoons) and diluted rennet (the tiniest amount possible, a drop or less diluted in a bit of water) to a jar of fresh milk warm from the goat, moved the jar around a little to mix it in, then left it to sit for around 12 hours, before draining for around 6 hours, mixing salt through, and letting it drain for a little longer. Great cheese with less trouble than the other way.

We’ve sold the cow. I have mixed feelings about this, but it’s something we had to do, and I’m glad she has a good home with another family. I have one hard cheese aging in the makeshift cheese cave that I made from her milk, an asiago with a natural rind. I’ve never been successful with natural rinds before, mainly from forgetting to brush them every week, but this one seems to be going well, and we can probably start eating it next month.

This post is a part of Simple Homestead Blog Hop

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