My name is Dallas and I live in the North Carolina Piedmont just north of Chapel Hill. My wife and I bought what remains of an old tobacco farm last year and have been building a little homestead. We fenced in about 2 acres this past spring and bought 2 Yorkshire feeder pigs, two little gilts (Tamworth X Hamshire and Red Waddle X American Guinea Hog) and a boar (Large Black X Hampshire) for breeding. Our two feeders Lexington and Barbecue are just over 200 lbs now and its time to think about processing them.
I have processed a hog before with the help of my sister and her family. The bacon was brined and then smoked but the rest was made into breakfast sausage or frozen. This time one side will get cooked in a Carolina Cooker for an old fashioned Pig Pickin', but I hope to process the remaining 3 sides of pork in as traditional a way as possible. Dry cured and then cold smoked with hickory. I need to whip together a smoker to use temporarily for this year with an eye to a more permanent solution next year. We converted the old smokehouse that was here on the farm to a chicken coop as it was in pretty nasty condition and we didn't realized that it was a smokehouse until later.
An interesting thing regarding smoking/preserving meat happened to my wife and I while searching for an old farm to buy and restore last year. We were looking at the remains of another a different farm which had at one time been a very large and prosperous operation. There had been a dairy, chicken houses and even a sawmill and the owners had built a beautiful Queen Anne on it right around the turn of the century. As almost always happened though, the farm had been carved up over the generations until only the old house and about 8 acres were left with a number of outbuildings. When my wife and I were first touring the place, we were looking around these old buildings. One, situated directly behind the house and surrounded with bushes and small trees looked at first like a small storage shed or something. When I opened it and looked inside (it was a bit creepy honestly) I saw these weird bundles hanging from the ceiling. After a couple of minutes as my eyes adjusted to the dark it dawned on me that they were hams and sides of bacon! The last occupant of the place had been dead for over 8 years at the time. Since he was in his 90's when he died, I imagine that these hams had been in that smokehouse for significantly longer than that. They were in perfect condition with the exception of a little mold here and there. The color was a dark yellowish brown. There was no smell of rotting meat or anything of that nature. Of course I didn't let on immediately as to what was in there and just called my wife over and said: "Babe, what do you think they used this one for". She is a bit of a city girl and the look on here face when I told her what it was almost made me die laughing!
Anyway, I would say I am a novice as far as smoking goes but I'm eager to make some tasty bacon, hams and smoked links this year. I wonder if anyone here could advise me also on a question regarding the diet of my hogs. I rotated them back to a small paddock they were in this summer for awhile and it has a ton of wild onions growing on it. They have been in a heavily wooded area and I guess they are tired of hickory nuts and hog finisher because they started tearin' up them onions like they were starvin' to death! Just wondering if that can adversely affect the taste of the meat. Is there a sub-forum where someone might be able to answer that one.