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  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"
The hog, the whole hog,
nothin' but the hog

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
Sooner or later, all conversations with old-timers feature a hog story or two. Several of my earlier columns recalled hog adventures of one kind or another. Here are a few more.

Without doubt, I consider the distinctive flavor and taste of crisp, fried, cured bacon in the early morning my favorite of all tastes. As far back as I can remember this experience has existed in my memories. I've lost count of the times a cold slice of bacon between the halves of a biscuit saved my life. I could always tell when mother sent bacon in my school lunch as it made a brown grease stain on the side of my paper lunch sack.

Without hogs, the homesteaders of the west would have had a much harder time surviving. Raw pork could be kept from spoiling merely by adding salt. Salt solutions kept many food items from spoiling. Grandma Trew packed fresh eggs into crocks filled with salt to extend their useful life. Buffalo tongues were packed in wooden barrels filled with salty water and shipped to markets.

Travelers packed salted fatback on trips to assure they had meat during their trip. Some of the most prominent early country gatherings were organized to butcher a winter's supply of pork. Warm climates dictated meat animals be butchered at lighter weights to prevent spoilage. Colder climates, especially after the arrival of winter, allowed a season's supply of meat be processed and stored often with the meat carcasses being hung high in windmill towers.

The mail-order catalogs like Sears and "Monkey Ward," offered all the many tools needed to process and cure meats of all kinds. Spices and cures were guaranteed fresh and ready to use. Knives, steels, meat grinders and any tools used were offered in kits and individually. Government bulletins were available chock full of processing instructions and recipes to make sausage and other delicacies. Pressure cookers were available to can meats in glass jars for preservation.

Pork processing was easy compared to the chores of raising hogs. Unless the baby pig survived to grow up, you had nothing. Extreme care was taken when a sow gave birth to a litter. Stories abound about how housewives attended the pigs' birth while the men toiled in the fields. My mother-in-law was attacked by a sow while trying to take an injured baby pig from the pen. A friend of a friend at Lela died from a hog bite trying to protect a litter of newborn pigs from a boar. Hog attack stories were common in every community.

There are many patented hog tools and accessories available in catalogs. There are so many that friend Onie Sims of Whittier, Calif., and formerly of Mobeetie, wrote and published a 141-page book on the subject. Page after page tells of hog rings, ringers, swine-holders, snouters and hog jewelry all designed to help control these ornery, sometimes vicious animals.

Onie states, "I wonder sometimes if the ear, nose and other body-piercing fads of today didn't originate with the hog jewelry of the old hog-raising days?"
Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" October 20 , 2004 column
 
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