Gypsy from On the Road Again blogged about using Lard and mentioned she loved to read about life in the past when things were slower and less hectic. Well it got me to thinking I lived a very rich and rewarding childhood as I see it today. (I probably didn't see it that way back then) So I thought I would share some of my childhood memories.
When I was 5 we moved to the boondocks, (not exaggerating) This was also where my brother had started his farm of raising hogs and chickens. The operation was behind our house so I got to help him a lot, and I loved it. My brothers were 10 and 15 yrs older than me so I became the brunt of their jokes many times. I remember when I was convinced to ride a pig (don't try it) I ended up with a big gash on my hand as I reached for a wooden gate to get "OFF" and there was a jagged piece of wood that I caught my hand on...not pretty. Needless to say no more riding pigs for me!
When my brother would cut the baby pigs teeth (did this so they wouldn't injure mom or each other) and vaccinate them, he would put mom out and I would go into the pen with him. You all know how loud pigs squeal? Well they squeal even louder when someone is messing with them, and mom becomes very angry. Scared me to death!! She would grunt and growl from the other side of the pen, and then one time this big sow jumped up on the gate trying to get to us and her piglets. I was screaming and crying scared to death...remember I was only 5. My brother was so mad at me because that was making the situation worse, so I took a "flying" exit out of the farrowing house. I was so upset I went and crawled up into the dual tires on the tractor and hid. My brother, started feeling guilty and came looking for me, found me and all was better.
Now chickens didn't squeal but the roosters, boy they were so mean. We had a really mean one named Elmer. Every time you even wiggled the gate latch here he would come running, spurs and wings flying. I would run and scream....forget the eggs! My brother was no exception to Elmer's aggressions, only he didn't run and scream. He would catch Elmer and put him upside down in a bucket while he gathered the eggs and cleaned out the chicken coop. It sure was a funny looking site.
Butchering is a big memory for me. One time we butchered chickens....nasty thing to do. None of us could eat them after we cleaned them and put them in the freezer, ended up feeding them to the dogs. As long as there is frozen chicken in the stores that is one job I would never do again.
But hogs was different. I never was part of the killing just the meat preparation. I do remember seeing them dunk the hog into a big barrel of hot water to remove all the bristles. I was telling Gypsy that "in the good ole days" sausage was stuffed into cleaned intestines. I remember when they would clean them they wound them around my arms (like yarn) and then uncoil them to stuff the sausage into. I don't think I ever ate any of that sausage. Might have been fun to do but I didn't think I wanted to eat intestines no matter how clean they were.
Sugar Cured Hams were my favorite. I remember my Dad and brother taking the hams and covering them and stuffing them around the bone with a sugar/salt/pepper mixture. Then they would wrap them in newspapers stuff them into an old pillow case, tie them really tight with twine and hang them upside down in the smoke house for months. What I wouldn't give for some of that ham right now. It was awesome, there is no ham in the supermarkets today that match it.
We not only raised animals but my brother farmed ground, with corn mostly at that time. I "distinctly" remember one time when we were picking corn. At that time it wasn't the big combines that you see today, but a tractor pulling a corn picker, and it was picked on the cob. My Dad and I were helping him as the weather was calling for rain and he wanted to get it picked in a hurry, so as not to get wet. We had taken a gravity wagon to the crib to unload on a conveyer belt. I was responsible for pulling the corn out of the wagon onto the belt and shutting and locking the door to the wagon. ( I was older now maybe 10 or 11)
My brother was yelling to hurry as the clouds were settling in, and I pulled the last cobs out of the wagon and ran to jump on the tractor as I always road on the fender over the wheels. We were probably 3/4 of a way down a huge field he was picking and I happened to look back to the wagon and ALL the corn being picked was pouring out the door; the door that I had forgotten to close. So I yelled at brother to stop and ran to close the door, needless to say he was mad ~ no furious would be a better word. So he said, "go get the pick up truck and start picking it up." HUH!!! "Can't we leave it for the deer to eat?" Nope, off I walked to get the truck. (kids on a farm drove vehicles when they could reach the pedals.) I picked up an entire pick up truck of corn by hand. By the time my brother had gone around the field once and got back to me, he had cooled off, and now he was laughing at me. Me...I wasn't laughing. Took me hours to pick up that corn, and I never forgot to shut the door on the wagon again.
Today I look back at these memories and believe me I have many more, they have made me what I am today. Not many woman get to say they picked up a pick up load of corn right out of the field for the crib. Come to think of it, I'm sure they aren't disappointed about that. Hope you enjoyed my trip back memory lane. Time them was rewarding, and peaceful and we were happy doing what we did, even though it was hard work.
Best wishes from Thorntown, IN.