Even before the sun rose, Eddie Knight lay awake in his bed in Midway. On his mind was the work he had to do, always did the day after Thanksgiving. He had been doing that work for as long as he could remember. It was hog killing day.
“I woke up around 4 a.m. I didn’t bother about going back to sleep. I laid there for a little while, and I got up. This was going to be a long day,” he said Friday afternoon as he sat down to take a breather just after lunch.
Knight was one of between 40 and 50 people who volunteered to help Douglas and Nettie Black kill hogs and begin the arduous task of turning fresh pork on the hoof to savory pork sausages. This year 11 hogs, weighing an average of 500 pounds each, were slaughtered.
Knight and others, including his brother David, were at the home of Douglas and Nettie Black as the sun started peeking out. A vat of water was already boiling because when the hogs have been dispatched, the hair is easier to remove after a scalding in the water.
Volunteers come from all over to help, an annual tradition. Some want to remember the days when many families, out of necessity, killed hogs with the help of neighbors to feed their families throughout the winter. Black’s brother Edwin, his son and grandson, nephews Eddie and David Knight and friends Arduster House, Glenn Dilworth, Doug Smart and others know what it takes to kill, butcher and prepare pork for the table.
Once the animals were been cut into manageable pieces, Black’s wife, Nettie, and a cadre of women and men began cutting the meat into chunks that would fit into grinders. The process continued throughout the day, with volunteers coming and going. There wasn’t much to be said.
Often the sound of laughter from good-natured ribbing pierced the quiet. Minutes later, all of the volunteers were back to work, tending their chores and mindful of the sharp knives they were wielding on meat that can be slippery.
By 6 p.m. most of the work had been completed. To say that most of the volunteers were tired would be an understatement.
But no one should be surprised if they all come back next year.