Some things I learned from this year that I didn't necessarily get from last year's slaughter:
- Bring plenty of sharp knives and a way to sharpen them - Last year I had to borrow other's knives (I don't know what I was thinking...). This year I came prepared. I brought my Ka-Bar to take the sow's head off. The long blade was perfect for this task. My ESEE 4 did the majority of the slicing and dicing (including the skinning and gutting). I found that it needed to be sharpened more often than I would have thought when cutting out the different cuts of my half of the pig. Luckily, my brother-in-law had an excellent sharpening stone. I am thinking about picking up a DMT double sided sharpener for when I am on the go. I already have a nice Lansky set, but it takes a bit of setup and is used to put different angles for different purposes/blades.
- More hands helps speed the process. - We had about four less people and one extra pig than last year. That meant a lot more work for us. Trust me when I say that the more people you have to help the happier you will be.
- Vacuum sealers are a must - I missed out on this part of the processing from last year. It was the first time I have actually seen a vacuum sealer used up close. My brother-in-law's aunt and mother helped run this part of the operation. They made bags and we brought back the bags with the ground pork so that they could seal the last side up. They also sealed all of the cuts of meat. One roll of bag material ran them about $30-$40. They ended up buying two packages worth to make sure we were covered. One of the sealers was new and cost about $60 on sale at Wal-Mart. If I ever decide to get my own, then I will do a write up here on the blog.
The sows ended up running $0.71 per pound. That's a hell of a deal for lean pork. It ended up costing me $140 for half a pig plus sharing the cost of the bagging material. And, of course, my time and labor which is essentially free. That's a bargain compared to what a person would have had to pay at the grocer. I also got to hang out with my brother-in-law and his family who are great people and had a good time. You cannot really beat that all the way around.