It must be that time of year. After Lovina Eicher gave us an up-close look at pon hoss, Gloria Yoder describes a butchering event in her church.

I know some people don’t like to read about these topics. But on the other hand, it’s good to recognize and appreciate that meat doesn’t just come from a grocery store.

A reality of life in Amish communities today…and some generations ago, this would have been reality for many of us.

From Gloria’s latest Amish Cook column:

Tuesday and Wednesday will be the big butchering days for our church. There are 21 hogs to be turned to sausage, bologna, bacon, kielbasa, liverwurst, and the likes. It’s a major undertaking, yet many hands make work light.

The assortment of jobs is large enough that most folks can find something they are comfortable with doing, even if they aren’t fond of butchering itself. Besides the actual butchering, there is mixing pork with seasoning, then packaging the seemingly endless stream of huge bowls and totes of sausage or marking packages. Then there is always a need of hearts who are willing to scrub sticky canners and totes for hours — literally! Then there is always the need for serving the food we ladies had prepared the days before.

Oh yes, I think I forgot to mention the butchering event is hosted here at our woodworking shop since it has the needed space for all the grinders, stuffers, our 80 church folks, and so on.

The day is a highlight for all of us. Yet, somehow, as a mother of five little ones, including a few that have had a tendency to get stressed out when things get kicked out of their routine, perhaps (and maybe I shouldn’t even be so honest) the best part of the day is when the last of the meat has been processed, the final grit and grime washed down from the sticky shop floor, and the last buggy taillights have gone blinking out the driveway, and the foster children’s whose world has come back together.

It all happened so quickly, almost too swiftly. We had a big butchering day, processing about 4,500 pounds of meat. This count includes the venison that was brought to be mixed with pork to make hot dogs and bologna. Things went exceptionally well. Even though I’ve helped for 17 years, I was once more fascinated and amazed to watch the large home-fabricated stuffers stuff pound after pound of kielbasa to watch it go through the smoking process, then quickly cooled down before passing the skillful hands that placed them into vacuum seal bags and distributed to the owners. Every bowl was marked with the owner’s name and a description of the type of sausage. I admire the ones who keep the large mixers going with each individual’s sausage, their proper seasonings, and the prescribed amount of ice water and the likes.

Twenty-one hogs + the work of 80 church folks = 4,500 pounds of meat.

I wonder how long all that sausage, bacon, and bologna lasts.

Amish-made cheese

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