Linda sometimes looks at me funny when I scrape every bit of food out of a can or gnaw every scrap of meat from a bone. I grew up on a farm and my parents had lived through the Great Depression, so I was trained to never waste a morsel of food.
There is an old saying that farmers used every bit of a pig except the squeal. We may not have been that careful, but we were close. When daddy and I shot doves or quail, we cleaned them and even kept the tiny gizzards, livers and hearts for giblet gravy. We could not imagine popping the breast out and throwing away the legs and wings like is common now, they had meat on them! Squirrel hearts and livers were also kept for the same thing.
We had 11,000 laying hens and sold eggs to local stores for resale. But at the farm, we also sold directly to folks living near us. They could buy cartons of eggs just like they got in the stores, but at a slightly reduced price. Eggs were “candled,” running them over a light to look for cracks and blood spots. Only perfect ones went into cartons.
But for the frugal, we sold cracked eggs by the flat, two- and one-half dozen, 30 eggs, to each flat. Flats were 35 cents each or three for a dollar, great for cooks making lots of cakes. And we used the left-over cracked eggs, the ones not sold, at home. The only ones thrown away were the ones with blood spots.
When hens “laid out,” reaching the end of their useful time, we sold them straight from the chicken house. People would come from miles away to buy them, they were very cheap.
And each time we cleaned out a house my family killed, cleaned and froze about 50 to last the few months until the next time a house ended its egg laying cycle.
I will never forget the hens flopping around, bleeding out after I chopped off their heads with my hatchet. After they quit flopping, they were picked up, doused in a big pot of boiling water to loosen the feathers, then plucked clean and gutted, saving the giblets too.
We had hogs and when they were killed several hams were smoked, salted and hung in a tightly sealed room. They would last for months although some mold would grow on them. Mama just scraped the mold off and we ate the salty meat.
One thing we did not keep were the “chitlins.” I never had them until I was grown, about the same time I realized the word was chitterlings. But most everything else was used. Daddy loved pickled pigs feet, a taste I did not acquire until I got out of college.
Daddy also likes souse and tripe, two more things I never developed a taste for but were common for breakfast when I was growing up. We had a huge garden every year and never bought vegetables. String beans and tomatoes were canned, and mama put up many jars of tomatoes mixed with okra for soups and stews.
She also canned peaches, plumbs, pears and blackberries. Butterbeans, corn, both on the cob and cut, black eyed and field peas were all frozen. Potatoes and onions were spread on a sheltered concrete floor where they lasted all winter.
I guess growing up on a farm taught me to be a survivalist long before it was popular.