Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pigs: Skin and Bones

I'm going to have a hard time getting out of bed tomorrow.
We roasted a half-pig in the smokehouse for the Fourth of July, and the other half has been hanging ever since. Things have been busy this past week, and the second half had not been processed. Mr. Farmer just didn't have time, so the job fell to me.  
Men generally handle the skinning around here. They skin deer and pigs and sometimes various fowl, if they don't feel like dealing with feathers. We have a friend who can dress and skin a deer in under a half an hour. He can do it in twenty minutes if it is hung at the right height and his knives are sharp. I guess this is a skill that comes from practice, however. Today I learned that skinning is HARD WORK.
I've never skinned anything before, and skinning, like butchering, can't really be learned from books. Sure, the background helps, but you never really get it until someone puts a knife in your hand and says, "Go to it!" So I did. I put the half-pig on the counter and started trying to peel away the skin. The edges had sealed to the fat as they dried, and it was hard to get the angle right even to get it started. I had to turn it several times and contort my body in ways I didn't know I could just to get the knife in where I needed it. In short, it was a nightmare.
Nearly an hour later, the skin was off and I could get to butchering. I boned the entire thing, including a very tricky shoulder blade. Mr. Farmer said I did nice work, but it sure felt like a lot of exertion for only a few pounds of meat! My neck aches, my back is burning, and I feel like I could go to bed now!
Well, now it is time for a prophylactic dose of Aleve. Mr. Farmer is going to reward me by cooking the remaining fresh ham on the grill tomorrow. I can't wait!

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