Hamlet

Get it…? Cause they both die at the end. Ba-dum TISH.

We have a camping trip coming up, and we butchered a suckling pig for it. My sister, the one who named him, assisted much to my surprise. The method we used was simple enough, hog tie him and slit the throat, cutting the artery so that he bleeds out fast.

Well, we did just that and he was bled out and brain-dead by the time even a minute had passed… But his body kept trying to breathe. It was really super creepy. He was well and truly gone but he kept trying to breathe for what seemed like forever. Apparently pigs have long-lasting muscle reflexes. Afterwards we were all shaking and muttering about zombie pigs. I was probably the worst afterwards, too, but I am the one who made the cut and was responsible for making it a clean kill. I definitely hit that artery (BOY did I hit it!) but it still wasn’t the best thing ever.

This was my first time processing a larger animal for food. Thus far I have only done the rabbits, and that was easy by comparison. More and more I am convinced that rabbits are meant to be eaten. They die easy, they bleed out fast, the skin comes off easily, the organs just pop right out, their feces are harmless to the meat and they are delicious. Not to mention they don’t care a whit about you and their fur is wonderful.
Pigs not so much. They take forever to stop firing neurological signals. We considered hitting it in the head with a hammer first which brings up two other problems… One; pigs have a lot of blood and their heart has to keep beating for that to pump out, and two; pigs don’t die easy at ALL. Not a one of us girls processing this pig, not even my 6′ tall sister that did kickboxing and tai kwon do, felt confident in hitting this pig hard enough to stun. (And the boys wanted nothing to do with it!) Also, pigs are way cute, especially baby ones. Like puppies, really. They want to wag their tails at you and follow you around, mouthing on your hands… Kind of sad, really. Makes me glad I don’t eat much pork in the first place. I mostly eat chicken.
And then they have more connective tissue inside relative to their body than any rabbit I have seen. Getting out organs is very tough. And their skin must be lightly boiled and then scraped vigorously for like an hour to remove the hair, or otherwise shaved with a razor blade. And here is the lesson I learned about pig butchering that the guides never tell you; you have to KEEP pouring the water. The water should be just under 150 degrees (f) and you need to pour it on and keep pouring it. This darkens up the skin a bunch, cooking the outer layer and it all comes right off. If you just pour the water on a little, and scrape at it with a knife, it shaves the hairs and the follicles in the hairs never release and come out. Sucky. If you pour on too much it cooks and splits the skin. If the water is too hot it will “set” the hairs anyhow and you’ll have to shave the pig with a razor. So be very slow and careful about your scraping!

I meant to take pictures, and my sister thought maybe a video… But when it came right down to it, we were too focused on the task to think of it until after.

Next time.

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6 thoughts on “Hamlet

  1. You are a braver woman than I. I watched a pig being butchered on youtube and the close resemblance to human organs totally creeped me out. I’m not sure I could do it. Rabbits, yes. Birds, too. And fish. But if I ever raise a pig for food I think I would be hiding around the corner while my husband did it, or split half of it with somebody who was willing to butcher it for me.

    • I also watched a pig being butchered on YT… It was in the Filipines and they were washing the instestines in a river to use as sausage casing when I realized that I had been casually snacking down on a chicken sandwich the whole time, and wasn’t that supposed to be odd? Eating while watching that?

      I dunno. We all kind of have the same organs layed out the same way on the inside whether we’re rabbits, pigs or people. So that didn’t bug me as much as killing an animal with such an affectionate and intelligent attitude. The piglets on the farm we went to all were trying to climb over eachother for head scritching and they’d wag their tails and nibble on your fingers looking for treats. Just like puppies, hardcore.

      But the piglet came from a farm where the pigs are kept in open spaces outdoors, and the piglets could run around in a warm, clean pen and play. Besides which, Hamlet should be delicious. So I can’t feel TOO bad.

  2. Way to go! I have to try rabbits first..then we’ll see about larger animals. Although with your points on rabbit, it’s definitely reassuring me of my choice to raise them. Nice post!

    • Rabbits are stupid easy, once you get passed the whole “you’re butchering and gutting and skinning and eating something that was alive a moment ago” thing. As far as processing goes, it’s like rabbits were born to become our delicious food! I wrote a bit on processing rabbits a few months back… You may wanna check it out.

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