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Relearning the Old Ways

December 21st, 2014

Atavism [atuh-viz-uhm] noun – the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.

found while reading The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens

Yesterday we spent the day butchering our pigs. They were slaughtered last Saturday and hung on our back porch during the week. Neil came back yesterday and we cut, ground, salted, and packaged up the meat. We got them almost 100% processed. The only thing I have left is one type of ham brine to mix/boil. That’s quite a feat, last year I spent an entire week working on this process.
pig butchery 3
As we worked I thought about all the older people I have met recently that have told me about how they remember slaughtering hogs when they were kids. My grandfather’s wife was one of those people. She spent a long time telling me about how they used to raise 5-6 hogs each year to feed the family (she had a lot of brothers & sisters).  Back then they grew food because they had to, now we do it because we want to.

Have you experienced talking to people from previous generations about their memories of growing/raising their own food? 

5 Comments to “Relearning the Old Ways”
  1. Ilene on December 21, 2014 at 6:14 am

    I have an old photograph, taken in the 1940’s of my dad and my mother’s dad butchering something, it might’ve been a pig because they raised them. They raised cows too but I think those were all dairy. My mother’s dad had all those old skills so I’m sure it was he that taught my dad how. My mother rendered the lard and made what they called “headcheese”, which was her favorite. .

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  2. Meg on December 21, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Do you cure and smoke some of your pork? We have half a hog and though we cured and applewood-smoked the belly, we are researching a good method to use for the ham(s). Would love to hear how you do it if you’d care to share. Thanks.

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    • Susy on December 22, 2014 at 10:21 am

      We do cure and smoke it. We do hams and bacon. The recipes from The River Cottage Meat Book are the ones we use. The Cider cured ham is fantastic. We hot smoke it on the day we want to eat it (after soaking it in cold water for 48 hours with a change of water every 12 hours, then boiling it for 4-6 hours to cook it through). The bacon is also cured using the recipe from this book and we cold smoke it with applewood.

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  3. Sierra Hampl on December 21, 2014 at 9:43 am

    My grandma loves visiting us and seeing our chickens.

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  4. Colleen on December 22, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I have fond memories of talking with my grandmother about her days growing up on a farm, raising animals and growing vegetables. She was my inspiration for having my own veg garden and chickens.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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