Thursday, April 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Hogs and Pigs



My grandfather Fieldon Tipton with his favorite hog (the one his has his right hand on)

My father grew up in the mountains of western North Carolina.  His family left their hillbilly haven in 1930 or thereabouts when my father was a mere ten years old.  One thing my father said he always remembered from his childhood was the annual slaughter of a hog in the fall to store that meat for the winter.  Since there was no refrigeration (or electricity or indoor plumbing) this was the main source of their family's protein during the cold winter months.

My father finished his childhood on his Uncle Don Byrd's farm in southern Chester County (Pennsylvania), along with his ten brothers, picking fruit and vegetables. Yep, he and his brothers were cheap farm labor.  That was the way of the world back in the Depression of the Thirties. 

In 1940 he got a job at the local steel mill.  Met my Mom and then I happened (born in 1941). But all during those years my father had a yearning to have his own pig or pigs. Brought back the childhood memories I guess.

In the late Sixties he realized his dream and built a pig pen on his three acres of land in East Brandywine Township, Pennsylvania. He bought a half a dozen piglets and raised them.  His favorite was one he called "Rosebud."  He is pictured below with Rosebud.


"Pop" (my father) with "Rosebud."
Well, we never had to worry about where to put our garbage, the pigs loved it.  

We all enjoyed raising the pigs.  And you may not know this but pigs have personalities, similar to other domestic pets like cats and dogs. And pigs are actually smart, really.


Miss Piggy - a very famous smart pig
Then came the fall day of reckoning.  Time to take the pigs to market ("this little piggy, that little piggy, etc".)  

The ramp was attached to the pig pen. Rosebud and the other pigs were ushered up the ramp into the back of the truck to their fate. Reality strikes.

About ten days later Rosebud return.  Actually, part of Rosebud return in the form o frozen pork chops, bacon, and scrapple.  Later the ham would return after it was cured.

Now the next question is "Did we eat Rosebud?" 

Answer: "Yes."  

I remember specifically asking as my Mom set a plate of fried pork chops down in front of me "Is this Rosebud?"  My father said "Yep!"  

Reluctantly I took my knife and fork and cut into the "Rosebud" pork chop.  Well, I have to tell you it was the tastiest pork chop I ever ate.  But I also have to tell you, I didn't feel good about this.  I felt like a cannibal. 

So the moral of this tale is, if you raise pigs don't eat them.

14 comments:

  1. I can well so relate to your not feeling good about eating Rosebud, Ron, only I feel that same way about any animal at all. (Maybe Pat does too?) As for consuming one that I'd known, well, I doubt if I could push a forkful past my lips even on really trying.
    (I don't suppose the name 'Rosebud' was inspired by 'Citizen Kane'? As this was the 1960s, probably not).
    Nice that you've got a picture of your grandfather. The only grandparent out of my four that I ever knew was my mum's mum, of whom I've not got a photo (though my sister will have).

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    1. Ray,
      Pat doesn't eat any meat. He also doesn't eat any dairy products or eggs. I eat very little meat now but I do occasionally eat meat, mostly chicken.
      I have photos of all my grandparents but only knew one while I was alive, my mother's father. Up until a few years ago I only had one photo of his wife (my maternal grandmother who died at age 27) but a gay cousin provided me with several more which was a big thrill for me to receive. I feel sad that I never knew my paternal grandparents. My paternal grandfather died two years before I was born. My paternal grandmother died three years after I was born but I don't remember her. Almost everyone else I know has had the privilege of knowing all their grandparents. You're one of the few who are like me, having only known one grandparent. I remember once visiting my great-grandmother on her deathbed. All the family was brought up to visit her before she died. I was only about eight years old at that time.
      Ron

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  2. Another fascinating story. I'll eat meat, but I sure as heck don't want to know were it came from. I could never eat Rosebud (or anything that previously had a name).
    It's amazing that the photos of your grandfather and father look so similar.

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    1. Jon,
      Funny that you mentioned that you would never eat anything that had a name. My father got more pigs but he made it a point not to name them. He had names for the other pigs too. Once you name them, it gets personal then.
      My father and his father were similar looking. I'll have to see if I can arrange to have a picture of myself taken with a pig or a hog to complete the trifecta.
      Ron

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  3. Anonymous3:05 PM

    Hi, Ron. I was lucky enough to know 4 of my great-grandparents, altho I only have one memory of one of them. The other 3 lived quite a while, and my maternal grandmother's parents always had the ENTIRE extended family over at least every Xmas and for a potluck reunion in the summer. In the summer, there was so much food and so many people that they used wagons pulled under the shade trees as the "buffet" for the main meal and seating for the menfolk and kids, with desserts kept in the house and on the front porch where it was theoretically cooler (no A/C in their farmhouse); I remember playing in the creek that ran through the front yard. My great-uncle owns the property now, and I occasionally drive by it when I am in that part of the country.

    My paternal grandmother's mother lived to be well over 100, altho no one knows for sure how long, since she was born at home and the date was recorded in the family Bible, which was lost in a house fire. That fire left a lasting impression on her, and tho she was in her right mind most of the time right up to the end, a stroke she had suffered made her prone to transient dementia and she would think she smelled smoke, become agitated, and want to "get all the babies out of the house!" She absolutely LOVED it when any of us great-grandkids would visit. As she got older (and somewhat more prone to confusion), my grandmother and her sisters took turns staying at night with her for a few years so she could stay at home, but it finally got to be too much and her final few years were spent in a nursing home.

    My niece was taken to a farm as a school fieldtrip, and she has shunned meat ever since. Seeing the whole "field to finished product" can certainly turn you off. However, my maternal grandfather raised pigs, and took great pride in taking us grandsons to the barn to see the piglets. We got to "pick" one and name it. And then in the fall, watch them get slaughtered. He did the entire process there on his farm, so we saw it all: the bullet to the brain, being lowered into a boiling solution (probably just water) to help in the skinning, removal of internal organs, selection and cutting of the various "desirable" pieces of meat (some of which I couldn't imagine ANYONE desiring, but my grandmother enjoyed pig brains - YUCK!), and even helped grind the meat into sausage. One time my wimp of a cousin (actually, he was my fave, just a year younger than me, the oldest) cried when it came time for his pig to die (the pig was a bit lame, had distinctive markings, and thus was "special" (mainly because it was my cousin's, in my opinion)), and my grandfather decided to grant it clemency. Of course, we ate MY pig. That's okay; I was my grandmother's favorite (and probably my grandfather's second favorite; he was just a very tender-hearted man towards his family).

    Sorry for the long comment! Just drug up a lot of memories. Keep up the good work with your PT. Oh, I was wondering if the front seat could be moved back and/or reclined far enough that you could manage to sit there, but you've probably already thought of or tried that. ~~~ NB

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    1. NB,
      Thanks for that long comment. Please feel welcome to leave long comments at anytime. Your memories were very interesting. They tie right into my father's memories of his families annual hog slaughter. He gave me all the same details that you did.
      You're right, I've already tried moving my front seat back to accommodate my stiff leg, still not enough room. Ironically, my Subaru Forester is a lot bigger than Pat's Fiat but I actually had more leg room in the passenger seat of his little Fiat than I do in the passenger side of my Subaru Forester. However, each day I can bend my leg a little further and the day will come when I can sit in the font seat!
      Thanks again for that long comment.
      Ron

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  4. I like this post. It's a different world now, Ron. I remember having my pet chicken --one of many that followed me around-- for dinner and crying when I was 5 years old. Still ate it though. Yes, we chopped off their heads, feathered them etc. These were little truck farms, practically medieval and we knew where our food came from. I never put my kids through that, and they may be better for it. Just a different world, one of many we experience.

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    1. Geo.,
      We had chickens too. Once my father made me and my two brothers chop a head off. But usually he killed the chickens by hanging them upside down on a clothesline rope and sticking a knife down their throat and they bled to death. Seeing those chickens hung upside down, slowing bleeding to death left a last image in my memory bank. Usually the chickens just stupidly hung there but occasionally one would flap around like crazy, spraying its blood all over the place. Lovely, just lovely (not).
      Ron

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  5. Great caption on the first picture. Other then fish, I have never killed anything that I have eaten. I sometimes wonder if this is a weakness, there is a farm in Maryland that teaches classes in killing and cleaning chickens- I have thought about it. Other then honeybees, there was no livestock on the farm I grew up on. My grandparents quit keeping chickens when they started spending winters in Florida (around the time I was born) and my father didn't want to be bothered.

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    1. David,
      I've always liked chickens. About ten years ago I had four as pets. Unfortunately hawks got two of them, a fox one and the other I had to put to sleep after it broke its leg. Chicken is my main source of protein. I live in an area of Delaware that produces (kills) millions of chickens every year. Occasionally I get behind one of the truck that are full of caged chickens on their way to doom. Of course I want to rescue every one of them.
      Ron

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    2. I hear the ghost of Frank Perdue still roams the Delmarva in a '63 Galaxie 500 convertible!

      :-)

      -Andy

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    3. Andy,
      You remember Frank Predue? He produced some memorable commercials, mainly because he looked like a chicken. I'm cooking some Perdue chicken today in my crock pot. They still raise the best tasting chickens.
      Ron

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  6. Or don't turn them into pets! HAHAHAHA I've heard this story over and over. It's why I've never had an edible pet!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    1. Jay,
      My father never named any of his edible pets again after the experience we had with Rosebud. In fact a few years later he closed down the pig pen. I think Rosebud's ghost still haunts those darkened abandoned pig sheds to this day.
      Ron

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