GREENVILLE — Gary Francis gets some family members together about every other year to make a day for butchering.
This year, they chose to butcher three whole hogs, weighing 270 pounds each.
Working with Gary this year were brother Steve Francis, who has had meat-cutting training and experience; his son-in-law, Brad Shafer; and neighbor, Ray Chavez. Others on hand and helped with the project were Gary’s daughter Rachel, her friend Tyler Lane, and Brad’s wife and Gary’s daughter Laura; and Craig Lee and son Kole Francis.
His father, Carl, was there twice during the morning.
“Dad is usually doing the dishes,” Gary said.
Steve trims the blood off the carcasses and breaks the meat down; Brad works on the cracklins; Ray does the cutting up of the meat and hanging out; and Gary is involved with it all in one way or another, including cutting up the fat for lard for the cracklins, but usually is the one who wraps the meat when it is finished.
“We have been doing this for 20 years, usually every other year,” said Gary, who bought the hogs from area hog farmers. “They gather each year to prepare the various cuts of meat to give to friends and family to use for cookouts and such. I don’t do it for the money.”
The butchers worked on one hog at a time, starting at 7 a.m. two Saturdays ago. The work area is set up with tables, scales, saws, knives, a tenderizer and meat grinders.
“Over the years, I’ve had help from Tom Moody, Kent Stump, Josh Swisher, Bruce Siefring and Romie Kremer,” Gary said.
Because of this endeavor, the Francis family and friends get all kinds of chops ribs, roasts, cracklins, sausage, lunch meat (old fashion dutch loaf), bacon and jowl bacon and tenderloin for their personal use.
It was noted that the pork livers and hearts are put in the sausage.
Toward the end of the day, certain cuts were injected with a pump filled with brine to cure until the next weekend.
Next time they do it, they are planning to use Francis’ new barn across the lane.
See more on this lost art in an upcoming Early Bird Edition.
Contact Darke County Media Staff Writer Linda Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-569-4315, ext. 1749. Read more news, features and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.