January 1, 1970

Crowle at War: Part 7. Meat, Killing a Pig – submitted by Bill Goldthorp

By Bill Goldthorp

We had to make do with our ration of beef and mutton. Pork products we had by the barrow load. Ordinary people could give up their bacon ration and were allowed to keep a pig instead but at the start of the war the government took half the pig when it was killed. Farmers had to record the number of piglets born and were allowed a licence to kill a pig. Inspectors went round inspecting the farms and the police visited in a haphazard fashion to check everything and licences in particular.
However sows often rolled onto piglets and killed them, swine fever killed them off. It was easy to secrete a few pigs in an isolated part of the farm. Most farmers managed to kill 2 or 3 pigs with every licence to kill one. My father who never gave up his bacon ration killed a pig every year. There was what could be described as a family syndicate my father, three uncles and a farmer married to a relative who from the middle of September managed to kill a pig every four weeks.

Killing a pig.
The selected animal would be kept without food for 48 hours. The local butcher did the killing on the farm. I with other urchins must have watched the butcher on about ten different farms. The pig would be dragged out of the sty squealing its head off. The butcher using something that looked like a Webley 0.177 air pistol, would put a blank 0.22 cartridge in it, place it in the middle of the pigs forehead and pull the trigger, a steel bolt 5 inches would shoot into the pigs head stunning it. Ropes would be threaded through the pigs rear ankles to haul it up on a frame when its throat would be cut. The blood was collected in a bucket to make into black puddings or mixed with sausage meat.

The pig would then be cut down and placed in a large wooden trough. The trough was part of the equipment that the butcher brought with him. The pig was put in the trough and numerous buckets of boiling water poured over it. This was to scald the pig and loosen the bristles. We used to say that the only thing about to pig that we did not eat was its grunt, we must have forgotten about the bristles.

The pig would be strung up again and the bristles scraped off. Then its stomach would be cut open and its insides taken out. The last thing to be removed was the bladder. The butcher would always play the same trick, which fortunately I had seen through one of the farmhouse windows previously so I never get got caught. Because the pig had not been fed it had been filling its stomach by drinking large amounts of water, the bladder would be full. The butcher would throw the bladder into the air shouting, “Who wants a football?” All the lads present would rush to catch the bladder and the winner be sprayed with a by bladder full of pigs urine. After removing the insides the pig was carved into joints.
If we were at Boltgate farm I was given the job of squeezing all the intestinal contents out the large and small bowel. After that I fixed them to a tap and flushed them through with cold water. Then cut into 12 ft lengths and sterilise them by pouring boiling water through. The intestines would be used as the sausage skin when the sausage meat was converted into sausage links. Auntie Nellie, a brilliant cook, together with Auntie Marie would set to making pork pies, brawn, links of sausage etc etc. All the fat would be rendered down for lard the remaining bits and pieces of material salted and given in packets to us, which we used as a type of crisps. With the face, chap ham, chines and all the other stuff, there was far too much that could be used up by one family. At that time no one, not even wealthy farmers had a fridge. Everything was kept on a cold slab in the cellar. This was where our family syndicate came into its own, all the various parts of the pig that needed to be used quite quickly were spread among the family, knowing that some would be returned gradually every three weeks for the rest of the killing season.