How I Spent My Winter Vacation

It is January in Ohio and I decided to take a week of vacation from my job.  I needed to get away and get a few "little" things done around the house.  I had a great week, but the highlight was Saturday. A work associate and I were talking one day about the processing of hogs. She invited me to her family's farm so that I could help them process a few hogs they had been raising the past few months. 

My wife and I drove 2 hours Saturday morning and, after a cup of coffee and a delicious slice of Texas sheet cake, started cutting up fresh pork. 

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As seen in picture above the first hog has just finished being skinned and is in the process of being split in half.  Bet you didn't know that a sawzall had multiple uses --- it saws pork.  Yes, it was totally cleaned before processing.   And might I add -- it works quite well.

As you can see that saw did a great job of splitting the hog in half, then removing the shoulder between the 3rd and 4th rib.  Then we separated the loin from the belly section, after removing the ham section.  Then we took it over to a table, where knives would finish the work.

We started on the shoulder by separating the picnic from the butt.  We boned out the picnic section for sausage and left butt portion whole as they wanted to use this for smoked pulled pork for a summer picnic.                                                                                                                                                                                          

Removing that leaf fat from the inside of the belly section took two of us, which made for light work.  We then removed the spare ribs from the belly.  The belly is the bacon and it is also called fresh side.  I have heard from several folks that they don't want to eat pork belly, but later in the conversation, I might ask if they like bacon and they are quick to reply with a resounding YES.  When I explain that bacon is made from pork belly I hear "Oh, I guess I do like pork belly".   

In the picture above we are cutting the spare ribs. After that we cut the belly into 3 pieces, wrapped them in freezer paper so that after a month or so in the freezer they will cure it and smoke it for some great home cured bacon.  All in all, it was a wonderful end to my vacation.

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