Monday, November 7, 2011

Makin’ Bacon

You’ve heard the joke about how many elephants you can get in a mini, yes? Well if not, don’t worry it’s not very funny anyway. Here’s another one for you, though. How many pigs can you squeeze in a rental car? And, before you ask, yes they were full size pigs and no, it wasn’t an SUV or pick-up, far from it!
The answer is two, just about, so long as you saw one of them in half.
That wasn’t very funny either, was it. Then again, the fellows at the abattoir just about laughed their blood soaked aprons off when I turned up to collect my freshly killed pigs in the aforementioned, rather compact rental car.
“In there! HAHAHA… Really? HAHAHA…” guffawed a burly chap holding half of a 200lb pig.
“You need a bigger car. Or a smaller pig!” quipped his sidekick (who was also laden with a hefty load of unbutchered pork).
But, with some gentle persuasion and the help of a saw to chop the second porker into quarters, we managed to load my beloved but now very dead pigs into the car.
Little Z wasn’t overjoyed. Sitting in his seat in the rear of the vehicle, he was now confronted by two trotters, two ears, a snout and the ominous but rather vacant expression that I imagine most pigs adopt on being cut in half. “Daddy, think its smiling?” he asked tentatively, his brow furrowing and lip quivering slightly as he spoke. “Yes,” I boomed with an overconfident smile. “He’s really looking forward to us eating him!” I’m sure Z saw straight through that.
And so it was that the wife, child and I, plus our two not very talkative companions wended our way home for what was to be a mammoth evening of hog molestation.
But perhaps I should back up a little to explain. When living in the city I yearned to have the space to grow my own food; everything from chives to chickens, mustard greens to Muscovy ducks and parsley to, you guessed it, pigs. And so, on coming to Haliburton, I leapt wholeheartedly into that quest. I’ve grown vegetables; reared and dispatched chickens; and now, thanks to the help of some lovely friends in Gelert, raised big, fat, hairy, healthy pigs.
That said, they were for eating and so off to the abattoir they went. But, I’m no fool if not an enthusiastic one and the chance to butcher them myself was not something to be passed up. And so, here I was driving home from Lindsay, with my two year old sharing the back seat with 350lbs of unsliced bacon.
Back at the ranch, I extricated the pigs from the rear of the car and hosed down the interior to remove the blood and gore (it’s OK, it’s just a rental. Or should that be ‘sorry Curry’s!’) and heaved the large and evermore daunting carcasses into the garage, where my adhoc meat processing station had been set up.
“They’re quite big, aren’t they,” said the wife, drastically understating the situation. “Pigs still smiling, Daddy,” said Little Z, looking on from a distance. But, you gotta do what you gotta do, and with a wink at Z, I set to the task of chopping up our hogs into rather more bite-sized portions.  
Five hours later, with the little chap long tucked up in bed, the wife wielded the knife and sliced the last chop. It was gone midnight as I tied the knot on the butcher’s paper wrapped slab of flesh and the two of us fell into bed blood stained, exhausted but rather proud of our first foray into butchery.
I’ve taken these things from the experience, too. In addition to having a freezer packed to the gunnels with lovely, if slightly raggedy cuts, of home grown pork, I now have the utmost respect for the likes of Norm (of Smoke House fame), Mr Coneybeare and all you hunters who butcher your own meat.
And, I guess I have some explaining to do to Curry Motors! 

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