While the women cleaned the intestines and prepared the head other variety meats, the men readied the carcass for chilling. Chilling was the procedure where the farmer gradually allowed the natural animal heat to leave the carcass. The meat was chilled by keeping it for a day at a temperature just slightly above freezing. Since the natural bacteria that was present in the blood and the tissue of live hogs multiplied as soon as the hog had been killed, the meat had to be chilled to arrest the bacterial action long enough until the farmer could add the salt and curing ingredients. Chilling the meat halted the bacterial growth long enough to give the curing ingredients. Chilling the meat halted the bacterial growth long enough to give the curing ingredients a chance to start to work. The chilling procedure was extremely important. If the farmer tried to preserve the meat before it had gradually reached the correct internal cooling temperature, then the meat soured and spoiled.
The chilling process started immediately after the intestines were removed. The leaf fat, which was the delicate fat around the diaphragm, kidneys, and rib lining, was removed first. If the leaf fat was removed when the carcass was still warm, it allowed the carcass to chill quicker.
After the farmer removed the intestine and leaf lard, the carcass was washed thoroughly. Then the carcass was halved and quartered for easy handling. Next, the quarters were removed from the hoist. If another hog was to be butchered that day, some of the men started butchering it, and the others took the gutted hog carcass in a building. Here in a shed or wash house, the farmer previously had set up a cutting platform. The platform was made from long boards, and placed on barrels, or sawhorses. Joel Goertz said his father mentioned that when setting up the wooden panels upon the sawhorses to be used for butchering tables, that they had to be careful to place the ends of the sawhorses at least six inches from the edge of the table to prevent rats from swiping meat during meal time.
Some that were assigned the job of cutting up the gutted carcass referred to books to explain the correct way to cut up a carcass. However, most farmers relied on someone in their group, who was experienced in cutting up a carcass, to do it correctly for them or show them how. The carcass was cut up into such cuts of meat as chops, roasts, hams, spareribs, and bacon. The cuts were laid aside for subsequent cooling and later preserving.
As the meat was cut up the trimmings were put into two containers. One tub contained the lean meat, which would be made into sausage, and the other tub held the trimmed fat, which was later rendered into lard. Most families were not fond of real lardy meat, so a large amount of time was spent trimming off the fat. To cut up the carcass, the farmer used a meat saw, which looked like a huge hack saw. If he hit any tough bones, he used an axe. Today technological advancements with the electric meat saws have made this job much easier.
25. Roger VanMeter using electric meat saw to cut up meat,1970 provided by Alice Krause Lehigh, Kansas
Some farmers cooled the entire carcass for 48 hours before cutting it up, while others cut up the carcass and cooled the cut up pieces of meat. If the entire carcass was cooled a stick was used inside it to hold the side apart to insure thorough cooling. Often found cooling on the butchering platform would be picture perfect cuts of ribs, pork chops. Tenderloins, hams, and bacons. Whichever was a farmer did it, he had to secure the chilling meat from animal predators. Pets were often a nuisance. Led by the aroma of fresh meat, cats and dogs constantly begged for some meat, and if ever given the opportunity took matters into their own paws. If the meat was going to be left unguarded, the door had to be secured tightly, or a guard posted. Roger Nelson revealed an incident in which his family was cooling a cut-up pork in a lean-to shanty next to the kitchen. The day had been warmer than expected and to let more of the cool night air into the room in order to better cool the meat, the wooden door was left open. Only the screen door barred entry from the outside. The next morning they found that their dog Bob had broken through a flimsy screen door, and helped himself to the meat. They never found a trace of the meat, but they often wondered how long that meat had served as meals for Bob and his neighborhood hound friends.
So having made sure that his meat was protected from animal predators, and that the weather was cool enough to naturally cool the meat without freezing it, the farmer left the meat to cool. He determined how long to allow the meat to cool by touching the meat and estimating its temperature.
Sometimes halfway in the day, whenever the farmer and helpers decided that they were at a convenient stopping place, a noon meal was served and eaten. Some said they had fresh meat, such as liver or sausage patties, but many said they had other meat. Some even cooled the liver and tenderloin quickly so those particular meats could be fixed for the noon meal. Many enjoyed the food the women had prepared in days prior to the butchering day. Lively conversation was carried on while they ate their meals.