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As I told you, beef (cows, steers, AND somtimes bulls), Pork (both sexes), and all kinds of animals went through my slaughter floor. Chickens, (Messy things when you chop their heads off, even hanging from a wire) goats and sheep (can't shoot them, heads are far too thick for a .22 slug, have to stand over their shoulders, pull their head back to you and cut their throats), and even had a guy raising Chuckers (gray, quail-like and sized birds) come in and we slaughtered a bunch of them.

I guess you want to hear about hog slaughtering from start to finish, well here goes. Hopefully they bring you the hog, as they are a bitch to get into a truck or trailer from where they are being raised. We always said that the head is always on the wrong end because if you try to herd a hog somewhere they don't want to go, they are suddenly going the wrong way. If you are trying to load a full blown boar (Hog that still has his nuts, they can get mean in a hurry.

Those fangs seem to grow a couple of more inches when they are headed for you. One good thing, though, they can't stand electricity, and if you have a good cattle/hog prod (like a stun gun on a long stick) they learn to avoid you very quickly.

Okay, we have him/her in a trailer, get it to the slaughter house holding pens for their last trip. What is next is fairly easy, holding pens have narrow lanes between the gates and fences, so forward is pretty well the only way they can go. This leads them inside the kill floor into a very narrow kill chute.

When you shut the door behind them, they're stuck there in what is basically a long, narrow box with high walls, and has 3" slit openings at the front end where we shot them through, and the kill room side of the chute had a big hanging door that would open from the bottom after unlatching. It was counterbalanced and after knocking the animal, it would swing up and out of the way of the fallen animal.

Here's where it got tricky knocking the animal, with hogs, unlike beef, of which you could draw and imaginary "x" between their opposite horns and eyes for the exact spot to cleanly knock (shoot) a beef to where they would drop and be totally out and dying, a hogs brain is a LOT smaller and that spot is harder to hit. On top of that, you have to know the exact angle to hit a hog to hit the brain, and some hogs were seemingly put together a little off. My grandad could actually knock one by shooting them behind either one of their ears down into the brain, but I wasn't the best at that angle.

Mind you, I am NOT a person that gets joy out of shooting an animal and having it squeal out like a banshee until I can get a better shot at it. That to me is one of the most pitiful sounds you can hear, and though I am NOT and animal "rights" activist, (NO such thing to me, they were put here for our survival) I don't try to abuse animals either. An animal to me is just food on the hoof, not something to get some sick joy out of making it suffer while you are having fun watching it die, I wanted to get it out and down as quick as possible so there was no suffering for it.

Anyway, let me back up a bit and tell you about killing "boar" hogs. Have you ever cooked some pork that while cooking it smelled very much like someone's under arm odor? (and tasted like it?) That happens when they kill a full grown boar hog that still had his nuts on him, not a barrow, which is a "cut" boar.

My grandad had a neat trick to keep that from happening, when we got a boar to kill, we would put him in the knocking chute the night before we were to kill him. We would get there in the morning BEFORE he would get up and take a piss and we would knock him, quickly roll him out of the chute to the kill floor, stick him, and as quick as we could we would remove the nuts and penis all in one stroke. If he had gotten up and pissed, or gotten stirred up and agitated, that musk he has in his reproductive system would have pumped all through his body very quickly and gotten into the meat, where you get that smell.

It's much the same as removing a deer's musk glands on its legs to keep the wild taste down after you have found him when you shot him.

Anyway, after knocking the hog, lift the chute door up, it rolls out on the floor, wrap a small chain around one of its back legs, hook it to your (electric, for us) hoist and hoist it up upside down and you stick it in the neck to cut open the jugler vein and let the blood flow. We tried to catch most of the blood in a bucket, too, so as not to clog up the floor drain. After it quits bleeding, then we would roll the hoist with him over to the hog vat that was already heated to 140 degrees hot, in which lye was also added to the water to make the hog's hair "slip" in a few minutes in the water, lower him in the water and take the chain loose.

When the hair starts slipping off of him real easy, you push on the big arm on the side of the vat over and a big grate raises out of the water from the vat to the scraper side of the system and dumps the hog onto the scraper drum. Turn the drum motor on, it spins, the hog spins over and over, hair and skin flies everyhere and after a few seconds on that thing, he is hairless and topskinless except for the head and hooves. (Yes, the top layer of skin also comes off, and a eve a black hog will come out totaly white and shiny.)

You them flip him out off of the scraper drum with another big grate arm out onto a table next to the machine. You then take hand hog bell scrapers (cupped, sort of half hollow metal ball shaped sharped edged scrapers with a handle in the middle of the the top of the "half ball") and basiclly scrape where the machine missed the hair. Under and between legs, hoove areas, also popping off the hooves themselves, like a BIG fingernail, as they will "slip" too. You get the best as you can on and around the head and ears, as the ears will be used for silk purses. (Had to throw that one in...)

After he is totally cleaned, slit through his back legs to be able to pull a tendon out from his legs just above his hooves, slide the ends of a hog "tree" through the tendons, and lift him back up with the hoist through the middle eye of the tree and roll him to the middle of the kill room and slide a gut bucket under him. Out with your knives, slice it open from asshole to appetite and gut it. They fall into the bucket, being careful to pull out the liver, heart, kidneys (to fix em, boil the piss out of em...), and some people like to eat the lights (lungs). Back in the earlier day, the intestines would be cleaned and eaten, but people today would barf at that idea.

Next you would remove the head, careful to leave the jowels (cheeks) on the carcass, as they make good bacon, too. Customers wouldn't usually take the head, so grandad would make head cheese out of them. Now is the time you would bring out the electric splitting saw. This is where the sawsall people got their idea, you just lay this thing in the middle of the hog or beef's butt and switch it on. That blade was tough and sharp, the weight of the saw would almost be enough to make it saw right down the middle of the backbone. If you did it right, the hog halves would balance just right on the tree.

After the final rinsing inside and out with a good garden hose tip, you would hoist it higher on up to the roller hooks on the ceiling railing, hook each half separately, slide out the tree, and roll this hog through the big cooler door into the cooler and start on another hog/beef or whatever.

After about 3 days of finish draining and cooling down, grandad would roll it out to over the chopping/cutting block, cut the tendons and drop it down and begin making bacon, ham, shoulder steaks, or whatever the customer ordered from it. Most people would want their hams and bacon cured and smoked, which my grandad was a professional at. Sausage usually came from the scraps and pieces left from shaping hams and sides. Some customers had him take shoulders and even fresh hams and make even more of that fantastic sausage he made from scratch.

And by the way, those nuts we sometimes took out, some of the tougher customers would take the hog "fries" home and cook them. More customers took mountain oysters (beef nuts) home than hog fries. (As you can imagine, the hog's were a lot stronger that the beef's nuts)

I sometimes miss those days, but slaughtering is for the young man, it can lead into a lot of heavy work. You get tired of dodging mean bulls and boars, and slaughtehouse smells can get pretty gross. The worst one I remember was when Grandad cut into a big abcess on a cow belly. I do believe that was the worst smell that I ever encountered. Grandad just reared back and roared laughter and said, "Hell boy, I could set my lunch plate down on it and eat my lunch over it."

Of course he would also be the one to just walk up with a cup in his hand and reach into the stream of beef blood pouring out of its neck, fill the cup and just turn it up and drink it. Us kids went scattering in all directions when we though he was going to pull one of his gross stunts. You had to know this old man, he was funny a lots of times, too.

This old fart was in WWII at Guadal Canal in the Seabees making airstrips on this little island nation. More than once he said that he had to raise his dozer blade to block bullets from snipers in the trees. His best story, (probably true) was the time he and another sailor was unloading full gasoline drums from a barge to the shore. A Jap plane came out of the blue and came down to strafe them, he said he just ducked down between 2 drums and figured it was his time, the guy with him went bonkers and started just hopping from drum to drum screaming bloody murder.

The plane missed them and all the drums, grandad just said "whew" and wiped his brow, but the other sailor just lost it, and was sent home babbling to himself. Some people can take it, some can't.

Well Ernie, you squeezed me until I about popped, and now I'm pooped, it's late, and I'm going to bed. Gotta work, ya know.

Have fun, ~Greg

credit given to original author if known

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