It can be hard to feel really ready to do something big and challenging for the first time, and so it was with the harvesting of this boar of ours. As with most things, there is plenty of information and videos that can be found on the internet. I watched and listened to a bunch of different approaches, my wife did, my friends did, I got a book from my dad that detailed the way the “old-timers” did it, and then there was much thinking on top of it all. But after the dust-cloud that is the infinite information settled, the boar was still standing.
My two favorite adages that I’ve picked up in this homesteading life are “If you’re not sure where to build the fence, don’t,” and “Just milk the damn goat.” I think I had reached the balance between these two, and on an unseasonably warm December day which gave perfect weather for the butchering, it came time to do the deed. The execution was really what I was most nervous about. The power of these pigs is awe-inspiring, and a wounded, angry, 220-lb boar with tusks sharp enough to cut through the crotch of my jeans (which happened later on in the day…yikes) is not something that I wanted to have to problem solve to start my day.
So, in the presence of my 8-year old son Lincoln and with my good friends Tyler and Nolan ready with knife and assistance, I took aim about 2.5 inches above where the eyes cross, waited patiently for the great beast to be still… and pulled the trigger at just the right time and in just the right place. He dropped instantaneously, Tyler jumped in with his knife to cut the jugular, and Nolan began working the legs to help pump the blood out. After all of the thinking and planning, a perfect shot that set the tone for a great day.
About eight hours later, after testing our way through the scalding process (so much experience gained!), hanging the pig, sawing him in half, and then leaning heavily on Tyler’s knowledge and experience in the culinary world as well as his own lamb-processing experience, we had a freezer full of the fattiest pork (yum yum) that I have ever seen. Since we had more than would fit, I also tried out a traditional salt-curing process (that I’m still in the process of).
After several years now in this journey, I think I can say without bias that I do not have an overly-romanticized, Hallmark movie postcard notion of a homestead, but I’ve gotta say that this was really awesome. This was the stuff of life, butchering your own meat with friends and family, enjoying the pig testicles (some willingly, and some through a great deal of peer pressure…ahem, Nolan;) ).
I am already excited for next year, with two little boars growing every day, to do it better and faster with the experience gained from this one, and to make it even more of an event to gather around, because it is deserving of such.