Lessons From My Butcher: Breaking Down a Pig

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to do something really, really interesting.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of my local butcher shop. David and Caroline, who run Hubbard’s Pork Shop, have been such a wonderful resource for me. Not only do they have tons of advice and insider’s tips on life here in Bury, but they also really care about sustainable, ethical food. The meats they sell are all high-welfare and pasture-raised, and they can tell you all about where each item comes from. They make specialty foods like sausages that are made without all of the junk (chemicals, preservatives, etc.) found in grocery store products. We are able to order custom gluten-free sausages,  and David makes the best bacon I’ve had here in England! I consider myself very lucky to live a few blocks from their shop, and I buy all of my meats from them, dropping in to chat and shop twice (sometimes thrice!) a week.
I am really interested in food, and care about what I eat and feed my family. For about five years in my early 20’s, this translated to a vegan diet. I no longer believe that vegetarianism is the way to go, but I also don’t want to have any part in the industrialized, inhumane animal production system that supplies most of the meat here and in the US. So, I really value my butcher’s ethics, and am so thankful that it’s easy for me to get such high quality food for my family. I am not squeamish at all about the fact that our food comes from animals. This is a fact, and I don’t think it’s healthy to pretend that the food we eat was always on its styrofoam tray in the supermarket.
If we’re going to eat animals, we need to be honest about the whole thing, and make choices that support our personal ethical codes.
Anyway, the other day I asked David if I could come learn about butchering a pig. I want to know all about how our food comes to us, and this seemed really fascinating. He said he would be happy to show/ teach me, and that I could bring my camera. So, this is where I need to tell you: I am going to be sharing lots of pictures of pork butchery. There will be blood.  If you are not into that sort of thing, that is totally fine! Enjoy the picture below, and then go on a local farm visit with us instead!

Now, for the rest of you… I’m so glad you want to join me. I was completely unprepared for how much I would enjoy this process. David and Caroline probably thought I was completely nuts to be grinning from ear to ear as I wielded the bone saw. I don’t know why it was so much fun breaking down a pig, but it was!
We worked on half of a smaller pig from Dingley Dell, and it took about an hour or so to get it into all the pieces needed. David says he can do it in about 5 minutes. Caroline grabbed my camera for me once we got started, and took some really great pictures. She has such a good eye!
OK, here we go!

Half of a pig, with kidney still intact.
The first order of business was separating it into three parts. He started the first big cut for me…
And I removed the shoulder portion, starting with getting through the bones, and then using a knife to separate the muscle.
Notice the chain mail glove– no need to slice a finger off on my first try!
Front portion off!
Next was removing the tenderloin.
Then, it was time to separate the hind portion from the middle.
There’s a chubby pork leg! We hang that up, to be de-boned and portioned later.
Next, we separated the ribs (to be turned into pork chops) from the belly.
Pork belly!
But it still needed to be de-boned, which was actually one of the trickier parts. David gave me a head start by notching out each rib.Then I used a little metal bar with a loop of plastic on it to yank through the meat, pulling out each bone. He and Caroline said they didn’t think I’d be able to do it. That was all I needed to summon the strength and determination!Ready to be divided into the portion for curing into bacon, and the slab that is sold as pork belly.
With the middle section taken care of, we took out the front third and separated the neck from the shoulder.
We cleaned it up to be a nice roasting joint, reserving the trimmed pieces for sausage.
Those knives were unbelievably sharp. David sharpened them quickly, often.
Done with the front 2/3rds, ready for the hind quarters.
Tools of the trade…
The hind leg and hock! This is how it started, and we separated the hock (lower leg) from the hind, and then removed the bones from the hind. Tricky!
Then it was ready to be cured, either into a nice ham, or gammon steaks.
He collected the last big pieces of meat, and added them to those we’d finished with.
Then we took all of the smaller bits and made sausage! I’ll share that part with you tomorrow.

I hope that I have gotten all of the information here right. I will be honest, David told me so much about what we were doing and why, and all of the names… It was a lot to absorb, and I have only kept part of it in my head, and not all of it is arranged in there perfectly, I’m sure! This was such a cool experience for me, not just from a food standpoint, but also because I love anatomy. I work with similar tissues on people, and it was so cool to see vertebral discs, synovial fluid from the joints, all of the fascia and blood vessels… It wasn’t gross, just super interesting!

I had a great time, and felt really lucky that I have such an awesome butcher that would be willing to take the time to show me his craft. He said we could do it again. I want to work with lamb and beef in the future, but I would also like to just go through breaking down a pig all over again, since there is so much to  absorb.

So, my question for you is, would you be interested in more Lessons From My Butcher posts? I have a lot of ideas for these posts, if you are interested, and he is still willing to take the time to teach me (us!)  Please let me know what you think!

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Lessons From My Butcher Breaking Down a Pig


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97 Responses to Lessons From My Butcher: Breaking Down a Pig

  1. Valerie {all mussed up} September 20, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Have you read Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals? As a 95% vegetarian I resonate so much with this idea of eating meat consciously and thoughtfully — this was so informative, Ariana.

    • Ariana Mullins September 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

      Hi Valerie, I haven’t read that book, but I have heard it referenced quite a bit in the internet circles I spend time in. I would love to check it out. I really enjoyed Everything Is Illuminated (at least, the movie– I know, I should read that book, too!)
      I’m glad that this was interesting to you, as a vegetarian. Actually, Caroline was telling me that a lot of vegetarians come in with a lot of questions about their process…

    • MissV January 20, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

      So much virtue!

  2. Rocio September 20, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    As with the comment above, I completely appreciated your devotion to being an informed consumer and to going out of your way to find ethical and organic products. This post was so great and did not make me squeamish at all. You’re right. Meat consumption is completely natural, but I lament that not everyone has access to such local, organic fare or to such a nice, fantastic butcher. I would welcome similar posts like it in the future too. Also, just out curiosity, how quickly did you transition out of veganism? Was it a slow process or an overnight one? Overall, an excellent post with some fantastic pictures. Does your butcher provide game in his shop as well? Does he slaughter the animals himself?

    • Ariana Mullins September 20, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      Hi Rocio. I’m glad that this was enjoyable for you! I am in complete agreement about it being such a pity that ethically raised, clean meat is not available for everyone. I think that makes it particularly important for those of us who do eat meat and have access to this kind, to buy it and support its production.

      As to your question about transitioning from veganism, it was slow. I developed health problems, and was told that I had to at least start eating fish. So, I did that for a long time, then slowly added in some dairy and eggs. I went back and forth a bit, eliminating animal products, then realizing I felt better with them in play. Then, I was meeting my husband’s family, and his sister served BBQ chicken! I didn’t want to be rude about it, so I just ate it, and it was OK. From that point, I started adding more in, and it took a few years for me to be as enthusiastic about meat as I am now. But I sincerely love being a meat eater– maybe going without for so long has made me more passionate about it, not sure!
      My butcher does not slaughter, that is done at the abattoir. He doesn’t sell game, but he does do chicken, and if I wanted some, he could get some rabbit and probably venison for me (but it’s not something he regularly carries.)

  3. doro September 20, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    That was really cool! I loved seeing the anatomy too, though I don’t know that much about it. I always look at the pics in butcher shops, but they don’t make sense. I loved seeing the real thing.

    • Ariana Mullins September 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

      Yeah, I have also struggled to keep track with which cuts come from where. That’s why I especially want to work with beef, since that is my preferred meat. But he said he can only bring a quarter in at a time, since they are so huge!

    • doro September 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

      I was wondering if you’d get to do beef too at some point!

  4. tech.samaritan September 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    Yes, I would like to see more. But you knew that. I will butcher vicariously for a little while before asking my butcher, Allan if I can do something similar.

    • Ariana Mullins September 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

      Cool! You will have a lot of fun. Anything in particular you’d love to see?

    • Ariana Mullins September 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

      Oh, and you might try plying him with lots of Belgian beers– worked for us!

    • tech.samaritan September 21, 2012 at 12:41 am #

      I might have to try something else, as he is Amish. I don’t *think* they drink… Home roasted coffee perhaps?

      I would love to see any activity where you are involved with food that produces smiles like you have here. I just like seeing you (and anyone) enjoying the process. Of course, I really enjoy any traditional European food crafts, like charcuterie, baking, brewing, and cheesemaking.

  5. Liene September 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I learned how to field dress, skin and break down a deer from friends who hunt by having a go myself, and I agree that it is a valuable skill to have even though I don’t hunt. The pig wasn’t all that different… I’m interested in rabbits, chicken and goose. Wonder what my butcher would say…

    • Ariana Mullins September 20, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

      That’s pretty cool, Liene! I think dressing a chicken is a super practical skill to have. I learned to do that as a kid, but haven’t used those skills as an adult– it’s also nice not to have to!

  6. Grandma Seelye September 20, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    Ariana, Thanks for sharing all the interesting things you are doing!! We love all your blogs and pictures!!

    • Ariana Mullins September 21, 2012 at 7:03 am #

      So glad you enjoyed this, Grandma. Bringing you along makes it more fun for me, too!

  7. Nathan September 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    Yep, more please! Super interesting stuff here. Glad you love doing this stuff.

  8. Ariana Mullins September 21, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Alright, I’ll talk to him today and see if we can make this maybe a monthly thing…

  9. Amanda September 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this – What an interesting departure from your typical blogland post – this is part of why I love your blog! I never know what’s coming next, and it is always interesting.

    I really appreciate knowing where my food comes from, and also am a meat-eater. At the moment I only buy meat from Whole Foods, since I trust their vetted sources and honestly, you can taste that it’s better quality than any other chain grocery.

    I also get a huge kick out of carving/breaking down chickens which my boyfriend does NOT understand, haha. He’s grossed out by it, but for some reason I think it’s a lot of fun. I’m glad you understand!

    More please 🙂

  10. Ariana Mullins September 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Hi Amanda. I’m glad I can keep you in suspense! 🙂 I am loving all of this conversation about how we eat, and how eat meat in particular. I had never used a regular butcher in the US– going to Whole Foods was the closest I ever came in that regard, and I agree with you that it’s well worth it. It IS a shame, though, that it’s so expensive in the US, but I think that buying meat from a source that cares about ethics is really the right thing to do– for health, environment, and for our relationship with the world around us.

    I did want to mention that you might be able to look around your area for a meat share! You might be able to get all kinds of good, pastured meats for a much better price if you can go in with some others (and if you have a big freezer!)

    Definitely more Lessons From My Butcher on the way! Thanks for weighing in!

  11. Rois September 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    Since my husband and I teach Chicken butchering classes I would of course love to see more posts like this one.

    Thanks for sharing your day with us.I got a chuckle out of the photo of you holding up the leg.Here’s this pretty face smiling,a domestic looking apron and then pow,a big fat pork leg.He he he,sorry my funny humor.

    • Ariana Mullins September 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

      Well, that’s pretty cool about the chicken butchering classes! I guess it makes sense, with all of the chicken raising that has become so popular in Portland. I grew up with chickens, and butchering them was just part of my childhood. (Rabbits, too!) One of the next features I’d like to do is on how to spatchcock a chicken. He usually does that for me, so I thought I’d have him teach me, then I’d share my favorite recipe. There’s lots of potential for fun here, I think!
      Glad you got a kick out of the pictures! My husband was a little bewildered by just how joyful I looked, holding that meat!

    • outboundmom.com October 10, 2012 at 12:33 am #

      Great post and love the pictures!

      My grandpa is a retired butcher. He was the hit of my elementary school’s Career Day! Watching him butcher chickens was far more interesting than listening to any of the doctors or lawyers that presented! 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins January 17, 2013 at 9:35 am #

      Oh, that’s hilarious outboundmom! I think kids have an innate curiosity about these things, until it has been conditioned out of them. We raised and slaughtered our own chickens and rabbits, and I remember it being a highlight for us kids. Nothing mean-spirited, just super interesting!

  12. Nikki Wall September 21, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Wow! Lucky you – I’d love to do this 🙂 My friend’s uncle is a gamekeeper, so that’s good for pheasants (I really like game).

    • Ariana Mullins September 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

      Very cool, Nikki! I haven’t had much game– plenty of venison, but no pheasant. I once bought rabbit here, but it was off, and I threw it out. I’d be willing to try again, though!

    • Nikki Wall October 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

      The rabbit was off? Ew! That’s not good! I tend to order meat from Riverford Organics or Redhill Farm (the latter being more local to me and once we’ve moved *again* and I have a fridge freezer sorted, I will return the use of the chest freezer to buying in 1/2 lamb). Various meat also comes up from indie smallholders, etc, on one of the groups I’m on on facebook.

      Various game, however, can be bought at the market in town (bizarrely enough in the fish market as opposed to the meat market, don’t ask me why, I have no idea!) and it may be the same where you are too.

      I’m told it’s an acquired taste, but I suppose as I’ve eaten it since I was a child, then I acquired it early and so the ‘gamey’ taste has never been much of an issue for me.

  13. Anonymous September 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    Ariana, I feel exactly as you do about meat. And fortunately, we have a village butcher who abides by the same principles — all the meat is local (as well as the cheese, eggs, milk and…), raised ethically, without hormones and antibiotics. The owner is a retired high tech worker, who I rarely see; mostly, I am served by Steve, the British butcher, and we chat about heritage breeds of pigs and cattle.

    So thank you for these posts! You are up to some exciting projects; I love reading about your adventures!! (loved the Belgian wedding btw, but just haven’t commented).

    (Funnily enough, the book lying at the pile beside my bedside is “Cleaving”)

    Oh — and I notice that we both commented on the same kitchn post Friday! 🙂

    –Cheers! Monika

    • Ariana Mullins September 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

      Wow, so many parallels, Monika! I am especially amused about your British butcher in Canada, since mine moved back here from a stint in Canada a couple of years ago! I will have to look up Cleaving, and I am very glad to hear that you like these kinds of posts– more to come!

  14. Anonymous September 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    p.s. I too am a former vegetarian

    — Monika

  15. greatdana September 24, 2012 at 5:10 am #

    Oh, does he by chance sell rabbit? I’m swapping my chickens whoes eggs my family cannot process, into at least pet rabbits, at most rabbits to eat! I’ve heard it’s one of the most economical meats to raise. I have been buying half a beef from my grandpa each year for ten years now and I still have to have the butcher walk me though the cuts and how I want it. I would love to process one myself (or see you do it) to really get it. 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins September 25, 2012 at 7:49 am #

      Dana, he doesn’t sell rabbit on a regular basis, but if I wanted some, he could source it for me. We raised rabbits in California when I was a kid, and yes– very economical. We quickly ended up with more than we could eat. And I think we will be able to do a side of beef one of these days!!

  16. Anonymous September 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    Yes!! Love this!!

  17. Courtney @ The Polivka Family September 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Ahh! This is so great!!! 😀 Love it!! Please do more!

  18. Elie September 28, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    Yes! More, please. I would love to see cow and lamb, too. I love living vicariously through you. I wasn’t squeamish either with the pictures, but it was nice not to have to get my hands bloody. 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins September 30, 2012 at 9:27 am #

      Elie, all of this stuff is definitely more fun when I know I can share it with you and others who are following along. I am also eager for cow and lamb!

  19. Sandra Mort September 30, 2012 at 2:19 am #

    SO jealous!!! My local organic butcher teaches classes but OH MY GOODNESS are they expensive!!!

    • Ariana Mullins September 30, 2012 at 9:29 am #

      Yeah, I think it’s too bad that this sort of thing is usually so inaccessible for most people. There is a program nearby that does “food safaris,” letting people experience and learn butchery, as well as lots of other food crafting classes and experiences, but the cost is just incredibly high. I am thankful (and very lucky!) that I have someone who is excited to share his craft with me, for free.

  20. Anonymous October 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Totally cool post, and you are just adorable. I’ve traveled around England a good bit and love it there so I’m horribly jealous of anyone who gets to move there. However, I do understand about how awful the cooking can be! I once had a “lasagna” in a pub in Loughborough that was just like Elmers glue on a plate. Seriously!

    We raise chickens for eggs and meat and the first time we killed some I nearly fainted. DH does all the killing. I still can’t manage that part.

    How do I sign up for email alerts to your new posts?

    • Ariana Mullins October 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      Hi there! First of all, there is a tab on the right side of this blog that is next to the 2nd photo, where you can subscribe to posts through feedburner. I’ll work on something a little more noticeable!

      We raised chickens as a kid, and I well remember our slaughter days– we lived for the “headless chicken dance!” I also slaughtered as a kid, but haven’t done so as an adult. I think that, like you, I’d rather give someone else that job.

      So glad you stopped by! And thanks for commiserating on the food! 🙂

  21. Robin December 4, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    You are a rock star! Wow! Love this. And it’s a great lesson, too.

    Thanks for linking up to Thank Your Body Thursday! Hope you’ll come back this week and share some more great posts! http://www.thankyourbody.com

  22. grassfood December 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Love this Ariana! My husband grew up in Holland and has such wonderful stories of the local town butcher. Hopefully the US can have a rebirth of local foods, produced and offered by local residents and farmers. I love the chain mail glove. I shared your post with a group I belong to (American Guinea Hogs) which I also raise. They are a smaller heritage breed and so wonderful (temperament and taste) and we hope to process our pigs ourselves next year. Thanks so much for posting and hopefully many more on the knowledge of your wonderful butcher.

    • Ariana Mullins December 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

      I am so glad you were able to share this with a group that can really use it– I hope it will be very helpful. And I really hope to do some more with my butcher soon!

  23. Lisa Lynn December 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    Awesome! I butcher my own turkeys and chickens, but don’t have room to raise pigs…but I would love to. This is very informative and I hope to try it someday!

    I would love if if you shared this on Wildcrafting Wednesday

    • Ariana Mullins December 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

      Lisa, good for you, raising poultry. We did too, when I was a kid, and it was super educational. Someone just gave us a brace of local pheasant, and my husband got a lesson in dressing them. I think this sort of thing is such a basic survival skill that is so important for all carnivores to learn!

  24. Mind Body and Sole December 13, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    You rock! This was really, really interesting! Thank you so much for joining us on Wildcrafting Wednesday! 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins December 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

      So glad you found it interesting! I enjoyed the whole process, and hope to have more posts like this to share in the future.

  25. Lisa Lynn January 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Hi Ariana!
    I still love this post! When will you be helping butcher a side of beef? 😉 I would love to have you share your posts on The HomeAcre Hop!

  26. Lisa Lynn January 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    Thanks for linking up! Great info 🙂

  27. Wild Blue January 6, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    Hi Ariana! Fantastic post. It is hard to find such well documented posts about this topic online. Conscientious meat consumption and being a part of the animal processing is something my wife and I have been thinking about a lot this past year. We raised and butchered of first small flock of chickens and helped separate neighbors process a goat and a deer. There is no way I can ever feel OK purchasing factory-farm meat from the supermarkets after reading books like “The Omnivores Dilemma” by Micheal Pollan and watching documentaries such as “Our Daily Bread”. Home-grown and local small farms are the way to go! Keep up the great work! I found you on the Home Acre Hop. Come over and check out our new blog about mobile homesteading if you’d like. http://www.wildbluebus.com

    • Ariana Mullins January 17, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      Good for you, opting out of the factory-raised meat business. It’s horrible, and I think it’s so sad that most of us have gotten so far from our food sources and left it up to people who just don’t really care about us, the environment or the lives of animals. I am really lucky to have found an ethical butcher nearby. He has since moved a few miles away, and so I don’t get to stop by as often– more like once a week. As a result, we just eat less meat– I cannot stomach the thought of buying it form a grocery store. Thanks for stopping by with thoughtful comment!

  28. Maria January 12, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    Wow this is great! Thanks for sharing such a fantastic experience! I’m from Colombia and down there we have a traditional dish called “Lechona” which is essentially an entire roasted, stuffed pork filled with pork meat, rice, seasoning, peas, garbanzos. The pig is roasted for 8 hours or so and the skin becomes crispy and delicious. It is so incredibly tasty and hearty I make a point of eating some everytime I go! I have seen how the Lechona is made and am not grossed out in the slightest, its good nutritious food. Vegetarians might disagree but they can continue to eat their GMO soy faux-bacon for all I care!

    • Ariana Mullins January 17, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      Hi Maria! I grew up in the Philippines, where the national party food is also Lechon! There, it is filled with red peppers, ginger and lemon grass. SO delicious, and we ate tons of it growing up. Back then, we still felt bad about it, and my mom would tell us to stop breaking off chunks of that delicious crispy roasted skin to eat like chips! I haven’t had it for years… Thanks for reminding me!

  29. LauraLee January 16, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    This was great! Thanks so much for sharing and I would definitely look forward to seeing more of these kinds of posts. My husband hunts and I hate paying the high prices of having someone else butcher our meat. Would love to be able to do it correctly ourselves and having a great visual take on it with all of the great photos really makes a difference!

    • Ariana Mullins January 17, 2013 at 9:43 am #

      Hi LauraLee. So glad this was helpful! I am pretty much dying to butcher a side of beef, and have been asking my butcher about it. Hopefully I can make it happen in the next month or so. I imagine that would be helpful for butchering elk or whatever it is that your husband hunts.

  30. SchemaByte January 17, 2013 at 2:57 am #

    This post rocked – I totally didn’t expect the positivity and great pictures when I wandered in. Thanks much, Ariana!

  31. regrowroots January 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    I found your blog at Fight Back Friday and absolutely loved this informative and transparent post! My boyfriend and I recently stayed at a local farm where we got to spend time with the animals that we later slaughtered and butchered ourselves. One of those animals was a pig and we were totally left to our own devices to butcher half of this 400 pound hog… it took us as least THREE hours!! I have a totally deep respect for eating pork now. I am totally with you on learning and understanding my food! 🙂 Keep it up, girl. You are awesome!

    • Ariana Mullins March 25, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      What a cool experience, butchering that hog yourselves! I’m sure it gets easier every time!

  32. wildcraft diva January 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    Hey, Go for it girl!! Jamie Oliver would be proud of you! You have outdone yourself with this post. I was veggie for quite a few years, but now I do eat a little meat and I go to the butchers. So many people eat meat, but in such a prepacked way to forget it was actualy an animal. In Italy it’s normal to eat rabbit and horse (both considered ideal for young children).Keep doing what you’re doing, ciao

    • Ariana Mullins March 25, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      Thank you, wildcraft diva! We did eat rabbits in the USA when I was a kid– we raised and slaughtered them ourselves. I think that’s a great first step for people who want to be self-sufficient with their meat. We also did chickens!

  33. wildcraft diva January 23, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    actually (typing not spelling error!

  34. ~ Janis February 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    Excellent post, perfect photos, good explanation. Keep posting your Meat Diaries! I have broken down pig carcasses in the past but never learned how to debone a leg. Lamb is even easier! I was a vegetarian for 30 years and then started raising my own beef to feed my dog a better (raw) diet. Have learned lots. My Vermont herd is certified Animal Welfare Approved. Come visit when you have a chance: http://www.tailgait.blogspot.com

    • Ariana Mullins March 25, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Janis, the photos on your blog of your farm and cattle are so idyllic! Good for you, for producing meat with so much integrity. We need more people like you getting involved in food production!

  35. Regenia Compton March 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I loved this post, and my need to know where my food comes from is leading me to have my own farm to grow my own food for butchering and canning, freezing and drying. Hopefully I will have enough saved to get my little farm and veggies and animals going next year, but in the mean time I only get produce and meat from reliable farmers markets and meat houses.

    • Ariana Mullins March 25, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      Good for you, Regenia! I strongly believe in supporting ethical food producers by buying from them. If there is no market for these meats, then we will not have them as an option any more…

  36. LannaM March 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    That’s so neat! I love happy, helpful butchers! (Mine’s a kick in the pants, he’s such a character.) I do have one question for you about that pig above – did you guys save/grind up the lard and leaf lard after cutting up the meat?

    • Ariana Mullins March 25, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Lanna, almost everything was saved, for either making sausage or using in another way. There are some bits that get sold for dog food, I think– but that is minimal. There are serious legal restrictions on what can be done with the head– the brain cannot be touched….

  37. Thanks for sharing this! I need to find a butcher like that closer to me! I’m a humane omnivore (or at least I try to be as much as I can possibly afford). It breaks my heart to see how commercially raised CAFO animals are raised, but I also know that vegetarianism and esp, veganism present their own problems to the local and global ecology, economies, as well as human health. Pastured and humanely raised animals are not only kinder to the animal and the Earth, but also have better nutrition profiles (higher omega-3 for instance, and fewer toxins stored in their fat) for we omnivores and carnivores that eat them.

    • Ariana Mullins March 25, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      Yes– when we look after our food, it also looks after our health. When we are careless with how our food is treated, we suffer the consequences in our bodies, and certainly on our planet. There are some sacred systems in place, for sure!

  38. Rachael March 18, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    This was AWESOME! So many bloggers avoid showing this part of the farming/homesteading process, and I love that you shared it with us all. It looks simple, yet painstaking, and totally worthwhile. I’d love to have all those extra little bits for broths!

    • Ariana Mullins March 25, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      So glad you enjoyed this post, Rachael! I am more than happy to share this kind of thing– it is so fascinating!

  39. Kresha March 27, 2013 at 7:26 am #

    Oh, my goodness. Yes, PLEASE feature more “Lessons from My Butcher” series! I’m loving them! 🙂

  40. Kendahl @ Our Nourishing Roots April 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    I have always been interested in charcuterie, but haven’t yet had the pleasure to dive in and learn how with my own two hands. Needless to say, I really loved reading this post and seeing all your pictures. I don’t think you’re nuts at all!

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  42. Marci May 21, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    I loved this and would love to see more posts!! We have butchered our own broilers and turkeys. We have even done a cow one time.

  43. mariam baurice July 27, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    I am Mariam used every single spell worker on the internet, spent untold amounts of money and discovered they are all fakes…i was the fool though; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In the end, I decided that I wanted a tarot reading to know what my future held for me; I contacted a woman who lives locally to me and she told me about a man named (Priests Abija); he does not advertise on the internet, has another job for income, has no set prices, makes no false promises and refuses to help anyone that cannot be helped and even helps for free sometimes, he will give you proof before taking money. He is a wonderful man and he was the only person who actually gave me real results. I really hope he doesn’t mind me advertising his contact on the internet but I’m sure any help/ extra work will benefit him.contact him here as +447053820826 or [email protected] He travel sometimes.i cant give out his number cos he told me he don’t want to be disturbed by many people across the world..he said his email is okay and he’ will replied to any emails asap,love marriage,finance, job promotion ,lottery Voodoo,poker voodoo,golf Voodoo,Law & Court case Spells,money voodoo,weigh loss voodoo,any sicknesses voodoo,Trouble in marriage,HIV AIDS,it’s all he does Hope this helps everyone that is in a desperate situation as I once was; I know how it feels to hold onto something and never have a chance to move on because of the false promises and then to feel trapped in wanting something

  44. Eric Parker September 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    There is an awesome work shown in this blog. Beef Butchery is not an easy work. It takes some time. The steaks is cleaned with good way and after it is cut into parts.

  45. kevin cleary November 24, 2013 at 4:04 am #

    way cool thanks for 101 on pig butchery were thinking of opening a butcher shop slash slaughter house here in southern va with some people I”ve met here that actually know some of what there doing in the butchery department but could you teach me more please all the cutting tips I can get the better maybe some video would be helpful plus I”m gonna make a cold slash hot smoke house too in time of course thanks

  46. CG September 14, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    Love love love that you shared this! I commented on our first meat bird processing in my blog. For our first lamb slaughter, we are bringing a professional in to be sure we learn how to do it correctly. I really want to raise a pig, but not exactly sure where we would keep him/her without them rooting up the ground too much.


  47. Lynn Marie January 29, 2016 at 2:20 am #

    Great post! I am fortunate enough to live just down the road from my local butcher. This is how I grew up as well and know I take it for granted.

  48. Yilliang Peng March 15, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

    My wife and I recently got a new barbecue and are super interested in going to different meat shops to get meats that we have not tried yet. It is great to buy meat that is super fresh and right from the butcher shop. It is also very delicious! Thanks for the post! It would be difficult to be a butcher and cut up so much meat every day so masterfully!

  49. martin nemley August 18, 2017 at 5:44 am #

    I use to go hunting with my step dad when I was young I all way wanted to know how to cut deer for the meat
    I tasted deer burger they taste better than beef burger and I also taste deer chili really good can you ask your
    Butcher how to cut deer meat
    Thank you

    • Reva January 24, 2018 at 11:53 pm #

      Enjoyed your post because tomorrow I go to the butcher to order meat from a pig we received from a friend

  50. Rebecca Lopez December 30, 2018 at 3:49 am #

    My husband and I killed and butchered a wild hog yesterday. We want to cure and smoke the hams. We have been told that a probe must be inserted into the joint to release the synovial fluid. Then a product called Quick Tended must be injected into that area to “clean up” this fluid or the meat will spoil. I have been searching the internet and I can find nothing about this process. Can you provide me with some information?


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