On our farm we had animals; they all served a purpose. In the pigpen were the hogs that had been castrated so they would grow bigger and bigger. At some point, my dad would call my Uncle Herman (who owned a cattle truck) to let him know we had pigs ready to be shipped to South St. Paul where they were sold for cash. The pigs provided the family with money for farm and living expenses.
In the pasture or the barn, we had cows -- and one bull. The bull allowed the cows to bear calves; the calves fed from the mother cow's milk until weaned. Then they became milk cows and contributed to the farm finances. The cows were fed daily with grain grown in our fields and twice daily they were milked. The milk from the mature cows was separated by a device called a "separator" and the resulting cream was sold to the "creamery" for cash, again to provide for the farm. The extra milk was fed to the pigs as part of their diet and to fatten them for market.
On occasion, we found it necessary to provide meat for our table. In the summer months, chickens provided both eggs and meat. In the winter months, we looked to the young pigs and mature calves to provide some protein for the family. Then dad would say it was time for "butchering". He would choose an animal and prepare it for the process. The "process" we were never allowed to watch. On a cold day during the school year, we would come home from school to see the animal carcass hanging from the big oak tree in the farm yard. By the time we saw it, the animal had been "dressed out " and all that was left was good meat that my parents would need to cut into the various cuts -- rump roast, rib roast, steak, etc.
On the porch in separate buckets, we would see the liver, the heart and the brains. Nearly every part of the animal was used -- even the fat was rendered and used for cooking as lard. The brains and heart were used to make "head cheese" (not my favorite). But the liver -- the wondrous liver -- became our dinner that very evening and it was delicious, for my mother was a wondrous cook.
The rump of the pig was cut into sections and carefully hung in the smoke house, which was a small, separate building near the garden area. Smoke coming from the chimney smelled delicious -- a salty, meaty, smoky smell that made your mouth water. In that smoke house also hung the sausages -- liver and summer -- that my parents made in our kitchen. They carefully mixed the ground meat with special spices and fed them through a "sausage machine" and into casings made from the intestines of the animal.
We were well fed from all the animal and vegetable food we gleaned from that farm. Today, it is easier to go to the grocery store and buy whatever we need. There was great satisfaction, however, in seeing the result of hard work and there was comfort that we all worked together to make things happen.
Respectfully submitted,
Laura W. Berglund
Copyright, January 2019