A Virts Country Butchering

A Virts Country Butchering

November was the time for butchering hogs. It has been a fall tradition in the Virts family for well over 100 years. The Raymond E. Virts family on the Long Lane in Lovettsville, Virginia always butchered on Thanksgiving day. You might consider the butchering day as a family reunion held several times each November as this even would bring together siblings, cousins and friends. There was always a friendly competition amongst Raymond's brothers to see who had the largest hog. It was not uncommon to have a hog have a dressed weight of over 400 pounds. Such a hog would produce over 40 pound hams that would be sugar cured. Most local families had a butchering and would usually slaughter form 2 - 14 hogs, depending on the size of the family. Butchering is nearly extinct today. You will only find a hand full of families that still carry on the tradition. Hardly anyone even knows how to do it anymore. I would have to say it is a dying art. Just click on the picture to see it enlarged and to get a description.

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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Iron kettles that will be used to cook the lard, ponhaus and puddin. 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Scalding trough that will be used to scald the hog to so the hair can be removed. 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Fire under the scalding trough. Usually started at around 4:30 a.m. so the water would be hot enough to began at daylight.
 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
The hog has been scaled in the trough and here (left to right foreground) Russell James Virts, James Green and Lester William Thomas Virts are scrapping off the hair with hog scrappers. 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Th hog has been scrapped clean and shaved down with a knife and ready to be hung on the gallous pole. In the foreground are Benton Stone and Theodore Roosevelt Virts, with Russell James Virts working on the hog. Behind Russell is Elmer Swartz. 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Raymond Eugene Virts, left, and Benton Stone de-bone and cut up the heads. This meat will be cooked in the kettles and later ground up and will be put in the ponhaus (scrapple) and poudin. 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
James Green is gutting the hog as his grandson, Dexter watches.
 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Elmer Swartz, Theodore Roosevelt Virts (orange hat), Benton Stone and James Green prepare to begin cutting up the hog.

 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
The hog has been cut up, with an untrimmed ham (foreground right). The ham, some weighing as much as 40 pounds, will eventually be sugar cured along with the sides (bacon) and shoulders. The backbone and ribs will be put into a salt-water brine in large 10-20 gallon crocks. Pork chops were not part cut from the hog, since the whole tenderloin was kept, sliced and frozen. Scrap pieces will be put into the sausage. In this picture are (left, front to back), Benton Stone, James Speaks and Clarence Lanham. On the right are James Green and Elmer Swartz.
 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Daniel Fleming is dipping the cook lard from the kettle in to the press. The cut lard (cracklings) will be pressed to render all the lard from the meat. The lard will be stored in lard cans and the cracklings will either be eaten or feed to the chickens. On top of the lard can is a colander covered with cheesecloth. The lard is strained through this to get all the meat out to prevent spoilage.
 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Sausage grinder. It is also used to grind up the cook meat from the heads and some skins that will go into the ponhaus (scrapple) and puddin’.
 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Elmer Swartz stirring the Poudin, Raymond Eugene Virts, Lester William Thomas Virts, Clarence Lanham, Benton Stone stirring Ponhaus (scrapple) and Daniel Fleming.


 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Theodore Roosevelt Virts dipping Ponhaus (scrapple) from the kettle into a pan that Daniel Fleming is holding.
 
 
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A Virts Country Butchering
A Virts Country Butchering
Joe Jenkins turning the press, which contains sausage that is pressed in to the casings that Goldie (Virts) Stone is attending to. The stuffed sausage will be hung in the meat house for at least 24-48 hours before some of it will be froze and the remainder will be left. The sausage will keep for 2-3 months just hanging on the poles in the meat house.
 
 

Linked to Benton Stone, Elmer Paul Swartz, Goldie Pauline Virts, Lester William Thomas Virts, Russell James Virts, Theodore Roosevelt Virts