During the summer before hog killing time Daddy would go out in the woods and find a big hickory tree. After I got big enough he would take me with him to help. We used an old cross cut saw. That was before chain saws were invented. It was hard work jerking that old saw back and forth. We would then, using the saw again or a sharp ax cut the tree into short links and split the larger ones with the ax. Then loaded it on a wagon and hauled it home to cure until hog killing time. It had to be just right to give the right taste to the meat. Daddy didn't hold back when it came to smoking meat.
We had two smoke houses as I can remember. The first one was attached to the back of our old dog trot house (do you know what that was?) This was the old house most of us eleven kids were born in. I think it was about 100 years old. Later on Daddy had the dog trot closed in and a couple of other rooms to accommodate our large family. I think I was about twelve or thirteen about then. He even had a bathroom and running water put in and we didn't have to take turns on Saturday getting our baths (whether we needed one or not/ha ha) in a wash tub in water heated on the stove by Mother. By the time we got to the last one I think we added on more dirt than we washed off but we all had to pass Mother's inspection.
After the old house was remodeled Daddy has the old kitchen and smoke house pulled away from the house and make a new smoke house out of them. After all us kids were grown they had the house torn down and built a new, smaller one for just the two of them. They both lived there the rest of their lives. I think all us kids had a little cry, cause that old house had lots of memories attached to it.
After the hogs were butchered and the lard rendered, there was a lot of mess to clean up and the neighbors all pitched in to help with that and left tired but happy with a big mess of fresh meat to take home with them.
That is when Daddy started his hog smoking routine. He would soak the hickory logs in water and put them inside the smoke house in wash posts, then covered them with saw dust so the smoke would last a lot longer. He would then rub all the big old hams and bacon sides with Morton's curing salt, put them in flour sacks and hang them up on the rafters with baling wire. He would then set the wet hickory and sawdust on fire and let it lie there and smolder for days. Actually, as I remember, he would light the wood and after it was burning good he covered it with the wet sawdust. This led to a low steady smoky atmosphere in the old smokehouse. He would keep that smoke going for days. Boy, talk about some good eating.
We didn't smoke our sausage but Daddy knew how to season it just right after it went through the hand turned sausage grinder. Here is an example of our breakfast back then.
Home made sausage or freshly sliced pork tenderloin or sometimes both.
There would also always be some of the cured ham or bacon for those of us who preferred it.
Big old fluffy biscuits made fro scratch by Mother. Nobody else has ever been able to match her biscuits
Sawmill gravy and sometimes on Sunday Mother would make us good old chocolate gravy to pour over our biscuits. This was a special treat. Nobody left Mother's table hungry.
We had biscuits three meals a day along with cornbread for dinner and supper
Home made molasses. Daddy raised the sugar cane and we would take it to a man
who owned a molasses mill. It was my job to keep the cane fed into the press
to squeeze out the juice to be cooked in a long compartmented copper pan
over a log fire. The juice would be poured in one end and as it slowly moved to the other
end and it was turned into molasses when it got there. end it would turn into molasses. I also had to keep the old mule going round and round to turn the molasses press. The old owner stood over it with a paddle and he knew just how fast to move the juice along.
Eggs any way we wanted them.
Folks is it any wonder we all have fond memories of those good old days.
We didn't even know what a calorie was but we knew what good eatin' was.
We had to work off those calories on the farm and it took lots of them.
Hope you enjoyed this. I enjoyed writing it.
Would you like to hear about making our own corn meal?
God bless you