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When Pigs Fly: 1939

When Pigs Fly: 1939

November 1939. "Hog killing on Milton Puryear place. He is a Negro owner of five acres of land. Rural Route No. 1, Box 59, Dennison, Halifax County, Virginia. This is six miles south (on Highway No. 501) of South Boston. He used to grow tobacco and cotton but now just a subsistence living. These hogs belong to a neighbor landowner. He burns old shoes and pieces of leather near the heads of the slaughtered hogs while they are hanging to keep the flies away." Photo by Marion Post Wolcott for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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I have to admit I remember enjoying that good, old-fashioned leather-smoked flavor of our homemade sausage!

I remember those days.

We always killed the hogs around Thanksgiving when it was cool enough that the flies weren't around. My father would half-bury a barrel and put water in it, then dip hot irons into it with a pitchfork until it was scalding. If the temperature was just right we could scrape the hair off the hog with oyster shells.

Dad kept the notched and sized sticks for the hamstring muscles and the opening of the belly from year to year. He always said the only thing you could not use from the hog was the last squeal.

Been there; done that

Having grown up on a farm many years ago, I have firsthand experience with this activity. We never had a problem with flies because, for sanitary reasons, my father always killed hogs in the winter. I wonder how all this pork was lifted onto the pole.

Someone survived and prospered

Using Google Maps, you will find a "Puryear Farms" and a "Puryear Tire Services" still alongside US 501 south of South Boston, VA. There are a number of tilled plots nearby, possible evidence of truck farming and selling fruits and vegetables in season.

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