With Thanksgiving fast approaching I can’t help but remember my childhood memories many Thanksgivings ago. We called it Hog Killin Day. It always came at Thanksgiving cause the weather became cold enough by then to keep the meat. Sometimes if there were two hogs to kill, one was done at Thanksgiving, the other at Christmas.
It all began early in the morning before daylight. Daddy would build a big, roaring fire and sharpen all the knives. We’d get all the pans ready in the kitchen. The kitchen is where I stayed, didn’t want any part of the killing.
Everybody would start gathering in about daylight. Family, friends neighbors and some we didn’t even know but they claimed to be kin. They all took part helping cause everybody wanted a big mess of fresh meat. When it came hog Killin Day, everybody pitched in and when it came their turn at their house it was the same.
It was an all day event and the working was hard. Those big shoulders, hams etc. were salted down and taken to the smokehouse to cure. There was nothing wasted but the squealer when it came to a hog. Every part was saved including the feet and I’ll leave out the part about the brains. The head was used to make souse meat and there was always plenty of sausage to can. We never knew what a freezer was until I was almost grown. A big pan sit on the back burner of the stove for days on end, rendering the lard. That sure did save on the grocery bills.
We looked forward to those big pans of tenderloin with hot biscuits come suppertime. We even had ham or tenderloin for breakfast with gravy and biscuits. Then the next day we’d have back bones and ribs, so on and so forth. And of course the Thanksgiving table was graced by hog meat. To say I was sure glad to get some chicken, is an understatement. That didn’t come to often either, just when we had a bunch of young fryers to thin out. They usually graced the Sunday dinner table when the preacher and all the other folks gathered in. Mama would throw in a big homemade banana pudding for good measure. We cleaned the bowls, regardless of what kind of meat we had or not. In a big family you learn early on to eat what’s on the table. We eat three meals a day and there were no snacks of sweet doings as mama used to call them. Our snacks were a big piece of left over cornbread with some little green onions from the garden. Especially after we got in from school in the evenings before we done our chores. That was in the warm months of spring and summer. By the time it came Hog Killin Day our mouths watered for some meat . I can honestly say I’ve never went to bed hungry a night in my life. If we didn’t have anything but cornbread and milk it was more than was promised.
I know a lot of things have changed today, some for the good and some not so good but I can’t help but wonder what people would do if they had to go back to the old ways. My daddy used to say they’d starve to death for lack of knowing how to do. I long for that simple life when it didn’t take much to satisfy and what we had was worth all the money in the world. We were truly blessed and for that I’ll always be grateful.
© Susie Swanson, 2013
If anyone would like a copy of my New Book the info is at the top in the right hand corner.
I wish each and everyone of you a Happy Thanksgiving .
Susie, You had some hard working parents. I do remember being hungry. I know nothing was ever wasted in homes, back when we were young. As my Teddy and I sat in the Dairy Queen , last week and ate a small chocolate sundae, I remarked about enjoying it, because as a child we could only dream of it. :):) We are blessed. xoxo,SusieReplyDelete
Aww, thank you so much Susie. This really touched my heart and we are all so blessed. Hugs to you. xoDelete
Hi Susie! Your post today was fascinating. My mother and father grew up in the country and often talked about seeing their parents do these things. There was a joke in the family that the neighbors better never let their chickens wander into our yard because my Grandmother would kill it, pluck it and fry it before you could count to ten. :) Don't know if that was true or just something they said to tease her. My family was a big "teasing" family. :)ReplyDelete
We moved out of the country when I was only four because my Dad became a pilot and I grew up in the big city. I do agree that most people today especially the younger ones, would not know what to do if McDonald's closed their doors or there wasn't meat neatly packaged and vegetables in the grocery store. I'm so glad that there are still people like you who are passing on the old ways and the respect for hard work.
I know since moving back to the country 8 years ago, my husband and I have definitely slowed down a lot and we have gone back to a much simpler way of life and we are so much better for it.
I loved your post Susie, and I hope you have a wonderful evening ahead! With Love Delisa :) P.S. The renovation is almost done, we are down to the back bathroom. Things are slowly getting back to order but I'm about worn out. But the good thing is that I have been feeling better lately due to a new medication, so I have been able to accomplish a lot more than I have in along time. So it is a good kind of tired. :)
Thank you so much Delisa. I'm also fascinated by your wonderful memories as well and I agree that a lot of the young people would bot know how to survive toad and that is so sad. I'm so happy to hear you''re about done with your house. Hugs to you.Delete
Susie, this is my story too! After the spring fryers were all used, there wasn't much meat to be had until Thanksgiving hog killing day. And I watched every step of the process! Boiled backbone meat was always my favorite. I miss that good country food, and grow so tired of deli ham and turkey sandwiches. Even store bought pork chops don't taste like the ones we had when I was a child. I always love reading your posts because we grew up so much the same.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much Charlotte. I'm so happy we share the same memories and i also agree that store bought pork is just not the same. Thank you for the sweet words. hugs.Delete
Susie, that was a different time back then wasn't it, with a different way of doing things. It sounds like you have some very fond memories of those times. I hope you have a very nice Thanksgiving with many blessings.ReplyDelete
Yes it sure was Daisy. hope you have a nice Thanksgiving as well and thank you so much.ReplyDelete
I wish I had all the sweet memories you have. My childhood was difficult, but I do yearn for simpler times. I always find comfort when I read your words.ReplyDelete
Aww, thank you so much Susie.Delete
This is a great essay and brings back many childhood memories of our family killing hogs around Thanksgiving time, too. Times sure have changed. It's great that you are preserving the old-time mountain traditions through your wonderful writing. I hope you and you family have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Also, I love your photos and the beautiful border around your blog. It looks great!
Thank you Brenda. I knew you and I share the same memories. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.Delete
You are so right, Susie. So many people don't even have a clue how to prepare a meal for themselves! It's sad. We grew up having to know how to do things. And I don't think that's a bad thing.ReplyDelete
Thank you. I agree and it's not a bad thing at all.Delete
Sometimes I wish I lived in the day of hog killin...no waste, everyone pitched in and gratitude was abundant...don't get me wrong, I am grateful for my life and have a huge respect for how much energy it took to survive in those days, but somehow, I wish I could have known that. I love your story!ReplyDelete
Thank you lise. I know exactly what you mean and I wish the smae sometimes.Delete
What great memories you have, Susie.. I'm so glad that you are able to write down all of these wonderful memories… In the future, people will enjoy reading your words/poems/stories, etc…. That's so SPECIAL.ReplyDelete