foreword by kenneth yeasting>

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Virginia was here, well, just a couple days ago, and we got to reminiscing. And I asked her, "What one day would you remember in your childhood that stood out?"

She said "thrashing."

I said "What's number two?"


Well, with me it was just the opposite. Butchering was number one. I can remember – well, as soon as I was old enough to help at all, we're up at dawn, like five o'clock. We'd always pick a day – Dad would pick a day in February where it’d usually be down around ten, fifteen below zero because you wanted a real cold day. And part of my job was to help get the fire going under the kettles. We had two big cast-iron kettles set up outside, get water in them, carry water to them, get them filled and get those boiling. And then after breakfast…why Uncle Harry [Harry Stroman] and Aunt Cena would come over from Fostoria. Clarence [Clarence Shoemaker]– Uncle Clarence, Aunt Cecile [Cecile Lulu Yeasting Shoemaker] would come over with their kids and Walter Klotz and my two step cousins there, let's see, well, Emmett Smith and his wife [Mable Yeasting Smith], and Grandpa [John Fredric Yeasting] and Grandma [Dorthea Tebbe Klotz Yeasting].

And I can remember having as many as thirteen hogs hanging at one time by noon about. We would have – Dad always did the killing of the hogs. He shot them with his .22 WRF [Winchester Rim Fire] and then stuck them and then – and then scraped them with the boiling water, of course. Then later on – well, let's see. One of those hogs would be for Grandpa, one for Harry, and one or two of them would be for Emmett, Emmett Smith. And his wife was my Grandfather's cousin. Anyhow, the rest of the hogs were ours. And I can remember when I was old enough to help with the cutting and all I would work on that. We always had the garage heated. We had a little stove in there, two-car garage, and that's where we worked, had a big table set up that Dad would have gotten down the day before and scrubbed clean. And I can remember the sausage. We would end up with about a wash tub full of sausage. And to grind that, had the old sausage grinder which Ken [Kenneth Leslie Yeasting, Emerson’s son] now has setting on his hearth.

And I remember in the early days of it. Dad took off the handle and found a wheel to put on it – as I recall, about a foot in diameter, foot and a half. And then he got a belt, and he would line that up with the Model T Ford and jack up the rear wheel, one rear wheel and started the car up. And he had this deal set that he could put the belt around the pulley that he bolted to the wheel, start the car up, and with this belt and all – and the belt ran through a little door in the garage door that was built for that purpose, like a cat door – and that's what powered the sausage grinder.

And I remember we'd have it in two washtubs which had been scrubbed thoroughly for the purpose. So we'd have about a half a tub in each, and then Dad would put the salt and pepper in and mix it all up and then come the stuffing, using the stuffer that's also at Ken's now. And the women would have cleaned the casings which was the small intestines and scraped them thoroughly. That was the natural casing. And then we stuffed them.

The lard was always cut up in chunks, about inch cubes, something like that. And that usually kept over till the next day. I had to start the fire up again, and then we put those chunks in the kettle. You cooked them until all the fat was out and you had what is known as cracklings or pork rinds left. Then that was poured off – and it was hotter than all hell, of course – along with the cracklings into the sausage stuffer. Only at that point you had the lard press insert in it, and then you'd crank that down. I used to help crank that. That would press all the lard out. And those cracklings, when they would come out of there, were like a cake. And they were good eating, real good, particularly when they were hot. And then the lard went into cans that were, I think, five gallons about, and we would have several five-gallon cans of lard. That was everybody's cooking lard for the next year.

The sausage – well, let's see. We had a barrel in the smokehouse. Everybody had a smokehouse. This one barrel I remember because I got it after Dad died, and then I didn't know what the heck to do with the thing. It's called a "firkenshape" which is about, oh, I'd say three-and-a-half foot in diameter at the bottom and probably three feet at the top. Now it slopes down rather than the usual arc of a barrel. And Dad would mix up saltwater in there, ’til about half-full, and he'd put enough salt in it to float an egg, a raw egg. Then the sausage went in for just a few hours. And then that came out and was hung up in the smokehouse and the fire started with hickory to smoke it for two or three days. In the meantime, the bacon and ham went in the salt brine. And bacon, as I recall, came out a few days before the ham. The hams were quite large. You've got to remember, these were three hundred-pound hogs we were butchering. So they were much bigger than any hams you will see today on the market. Then the bacon slabs and the hams were all hung up in the smokehouse and smoked for a week or more. They were cured so that you could leave them hang out there all summer. My Mother would go out in the middle of July and bring in a slab of bacon or a ham and start cutting it. So we ate an awful lot of pork. [Emerson donated the barrel to the Henry Ford Museum in 1959. According to a letter accompanying the donation, the barrel was described as a “firkenshape” or pork barrel. It was hand made by a cooper by the name of Henry Gerken (1836-1914) for his half brother Fred Yeasting, Emerson’s great grandfather. Both lived near Woodville, Ohio, which is about five miles northwest of Rollersville. John F. Yeasting inherited the barrel from his father Fred Yeasting. Henry Gerken was the son of Fred Gerken and Catherine Driftmire Yeasting Gerken, widow of John Frederick Yeasting. The barrel is currently on display in the Colonial Village Daggett Farmhouse at Greenfield Village.]

I helped butcher beef a time or two. One year I remember I came home from college, spent my Christmas vacation cutting up a beef that Dad killed. And I did most of the actual butchering, cutting up of it.

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