Family Had to Butcher a Hog to Survive Blizzard

A reader recalls how her father had to butcher a hog so the family had food to survive a blizzard.

| November/December 2012

  • Hogs In Snow
    We ran out of meat, so Dad butchered one of the hogs.
    Photo By Fotolia/geewhiz

  • Hogs In Snow

It was the winter of 1949. There were terrible blizzards creating hardships for many people that winter. Our family lived only one-half mile from our country school, where I was in first grade. I don’t remember whether the blizzard hit when we were still in school, but the teacher, Miss Carr, got snowed in at our place. We had a large house, so there was plenty of room.

The electricity went out the first day. We had just gotten electricity the summer before, so we still had the kerosene lamps for light. Our house was still heated with “fuel oil,” and we also had a wood-burning stove, so we were comfortable.

My youngest sister was only 2 months old, and I remember Miss Carr holding her and saying sympathetically, “This light is better than that bright electric light shining in your eyes, isn’t it?”

Miss Carr was very young to be teaching school. She celebrated her 18th birthday at our house during that blizzard. Normal training (teacher training) was still taught in the high schools, and young women (and a few men) took that course and then went right into teaching. Mom made a birthday cake, but there were no presents, as we couldn’t get to town. The phones went out, so Miss Carr couldn’t even call home, and she was very homesick.

We had plenty of canned goods and flour for baking, so food wasn’t a problem. We did not have a freezer, though, just the top part of the refrigerator. At that time, everyone had locker boxes at the local butcher shop. There was a huge freezer, and the boxes were stacked along long halls inside. Everyone had a key for their own locker, and on Saturdays we went to town and got some of our meat to put into the refrigerator freezer for the week.

Butcher a hog

The blizzard lasted several days, and we were solidly snowed in. The vehicles were completely covered with snow, and so were the roads. We ran out of meat, so Dad butchered one of the hogs. (You’ve probably seen pictures of beef or pork carcasses hanging in a cooling room at a packing plant. Well, it was like that.) He hung the hog in the corncrib to cool, and then brought it up to the house so it wouldn’t freeze solid. It was a struggle to get the hog carcass up the hill because the snow was so deep and it was still coming down and blowing hard. Dad had a bad hip, but somehow, between him and Mom, they got it into the house and hung it in the cool basement.

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