How to Start a Small Pig Farm

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Raising pigs on your farm provides bacon, sausage and other tasty pork products.
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Use this guide to learn the different meat cuts to pork.
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Use this diagram to learn the different parts of a pig.
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Figure 3: A small pork smoker.
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As smokehouses are growing more popular today, people can buy commercially built ones or build simple ones.
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Figure 4: A smokehouse.  
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Suggested feeding mixture for pigs.

Home-smoked, mahogany-colored bacon, plump juicy hams,
fresh spicy sausage and snowy lard are mostly nostalgic
memories in this country today… but there’s no reason
why the time-honored art of curing and smoking meat can’t
be revived by the modern homesteader. As a matter of fact,
there’s a couple of very good reasons why it should be.

In this age of antibiotics, hormones, overcrowded feedlots,
preservatives and quick-cure methods, producing one’s own
is practically the only way to be assured of quality meat.
Furthermore, raising a hog is a project especially suited
to the small or beginning farmer because:

• The capital
investment is low.
• The project is short term.
• The family garden can provide a substantial amount of
high-quality food in the pig’s diet at negligible cost.

Last summer my husband, Arthur, and I undertook the project
of raising and butchering two hogs… one for ourselves
and one for a friend. We rendered the lard, made sausage,
cured and smoked bacon and hams… all with reasonable
success on the initial try. Our experience should offer
encouragement to anyone else contemplating such an
undertaking for the first time.

How Many Pigs Should You Raise?

First of all, should you raise one pig or two? The fact is
that a lone hog doesn’t grow well at all (he likes to have
company)… while today’s average family probably
doesn’t eat more than one pig in a year. So what’s to do?

There are at least two ways out of this dilemma. One is to
find a friend who would like to raise his own porker but
has no place to do it. Offer to raise a second pig for your
comrade who will, in turn, bear his share of the cost and
help with the butchering. It will be no more trouble for
you to raise two hogs than one, the pigs will have each
other for company and you’ll be doing someone a favor
besides!

A second alternative is to raise and butcher two pigs, one
for home consumption and one to sell. Although all states
have laws regarding the butchering and selling of meat
(check with the nearest slaughterhouse), I believe
that — in general practice — no one bothers the
small farmer who raises for himself and sells to his
friends. (Athird alternative, of course, is
the raising of one or more “extra” hogs for sale on the
hoof on the open market. With the competition from
commercial pig “factories” what it is today, however, this
is no real alternative at all — Editor.)

 

Should you have doubts about the feasibility of selling
home-butchered meat, find out before you start how many of
your friends and neighbors would be interested in buying
fresh pork next fall. If your experience is anything like
ours, you’ll find so many people hankering for real
farm-raised meat that your pig will be “all ‘et” before
it’s even raised!

Although fresh pork does not command a large price, you
should be able to get back as much as you put into the pig
you sell, plus a little extra to offset the cost of the one
you keep for yourself. Furthermore, if you’d like to
receive double the price for your product, you can do so by
curing and smoking some of the meat before you offer it for
sale. I think I’m safe in promising that you’ll have no
difficulty in selling your home-smoked bacon and hams. With
such an investment of time and labor (the cost is minimal)
your sales might offset the entire cos of raising the hogs,
and your winter’s supply of pork would be free!

Let me state, however, that there are no guarantees in this
business and I’m not suggesting that this is a “sure, easy
way to get cheap food”. Consider the following before you
start:

• Raising a healthy animal demands a certain
amount of daily care and attention. 
• Butchering is not a
particularly pleasant task.
• The meat must be cured over
an extended period of time.
• Meat must be smoked and
stored properly to insure its keeping qualities.

Then again, common sense and a little patience are the only
basic requirements for being a successful hog-raiser and
butcherer. If you like doing things for yourself and want
to start depending on your own hands, this is a good place
to start.

Buying Pigs

In farm communities, young pigs are usually offered for
sale in the newspapers throughout the spring and summer
months. If you don’t find any listed in the papers, ask
around at farm supply stores or drop in on a stock sale… but DON’T go dashing out to buy your pig with the first
twinge of spring fever. To begin with your garden isn’t
even planted, much less ready to feed a porker… and if
you buy too early you’ll find yourself with an expensive
overgrown pet by August or September.

There are three things you should know before you buy.
First, pigs are weaned and sold when they’re eight weeks
old. (Don’t buy pigs weaned at six weeks ’cause they won’t
be as healthy.) Secondly, it is generally agreed that a pig
should be butchered when he’s six months old; if you feed
him beyond this age you’ll only be putting money into him
that you won’t get back. Third, unless you have access to a
walk-in cooler, you can’t butcher until frosty weather
arrives. The temperature must be down to between 30 degrees and 40 degrees so the meat can hang and cool after
butchering.

With this information, it’s not very hard to decide when to
buy… just subtract four months from the time that you
can plan on near-freezing weather in your neck of the
woods. Here in Michigan we butcher at the end of November
so we buy our pigs in late July. Conveniently, the garden
is just starting to produce some surplus at that time of
the summer and it provides more as the pigs grow bigger and
hungrier.

What Breed of Pig is Best for Meat?

The following breeds are popular as lean-meat producers and
shouldn’t be hard to find: Yorkshire, Duroc-Jersey,
Berkshire, Hampshire, Poland-China, Chester White and
Tamworth. Ask for either sows (females) or barrows
(castrated males), because the meat from a boar
(uncastrated male) has a very unpleasant odor and taste. If
you have a choice, select the huskiest looking animals of
the litter… the ones that have short legs and plump
looking hams. You’ll need a wooden crate or box to
transport them in because a pig doesn’t handle like other
animals (you can’t put a collar around his neck and lead
him where you want him to go).

General Care and Housing of Pigs

It’s been said many times and I’ll say it again: the pig is
not a dirty animal. It is his nature to root (he
eats roots, seeds and nuts, and gets necessary minerals
from the soil) and — if confined in a small
space — he will root in his own manure. But this is not
by choice. Provide your pig with plenty of good, clean
rootin’ by giving him as large an area of fresh sod as you
can afford to fence, put the pigpen in a different spot
each year… and he’ll stay clean.

Since pigs will root an area free from quack grass in a
season you might wish to confine your animals in a future
garden plot where they can till the soil and fertilize it
for you at the same time! The pig fence need not be high
(three feet is tall enough) but it must be of woven wire
and anchored at the bottom with boards or logs. Pigs don’t
go over fences but they do go under.

Most literature on housing for swine suggests a floorless,
portable house which can be moved to different parts of the
pen as manure accumulates in one area. The house can be
built of scrap lumber or tin, and five feet square is an
adequate size for two young hogs. In the summer, the
structure will provide shade for the pigs’ nearly hairless
bodies (which are susceptible to sunburn). If you give the
hogs straw during the winter, the animals will keep warm in
their house by digging a nest and lining it with the
bedding.

Supply your porkers with a large enough space in which to
root, and you won’t need to worry about them getting out of
their pen. Some people put rings in their pigs’ noses to
keep them from rooting, but this deprives the animal of an
important part of his diet. Good clean rootin’ is essential
to Porky’s health… along with a constant supply of
clean drinking water, fresh air and the opportunity to
exercise. When the weather turns cold, you can help keep
your hogs comfortable by warming their drinking water or
liquid food. With these simple needs fulfilled and an
adequate diet, your pigs should be a happy, healthy part of
the homestead family.

Feeding Pigs

A farmer who raises hogs strictly for profit will feed them
the cheapest food he can get. This frequently includes
stale white bread and large amounts of corn. When raising
hogs for your own consumption, however, you’ll surely be
more careful of what they eat because the meat you produce
can’t be of any better quality than the feed that went into
it. If you’re aware of food quality, then you know that
“organically” grown feed produces the highest quality meat
of all. Unfortunately, “organic” feed is not usually
available except to the farmer who raises it himself. So,
until you’re set up to produce your own you will have to
use judgment in selecting the best feed available.

We did not buy any packaged, prepared hog food for our
animals because such mixtures are expensive and almost sure
to contain antibiotics and other additives. Instead, we
bought grain at the Farm Bureau and had it mixed and ground
to our specifications… it wasn’t organic, but it
wasn’t full of expensive chemicals, either. We turned down
white bread from a bakery, sour milk from a dairy and a
crib full of dried-up corn of uncertain age. We accepted
milk and household garbage from our neighbors, but didn’t
try to get any from restaurants.

What you feed your hogs will depend on what’s available
where you live and your ability to evaluate it. Don’t be
afraid to ask questions and — if you tell someone
(politely) that his garbage isn’t good enough for your
pigs — it might set him to thinking a little.

In selecting food for your hogs, remember that they’re
omnivorous. That is, they both like and need (just like
humans!) a widely varied diet in order to receive all the
vitamins, minerals and protein that they require. The
following list is by no means exhaustive but will give you
an idea of some of the things that are good for pigs to
eat.

Corn, grain and mineral salt. The grain may be fed
whole but several varieties are usually mixed and ground
together. Corn is good but should not be used exclusively,
soybeans are essential for their high protein content and
rye is favored by many farmers in this area. Here is a
suggested mixture:

We fed this grain ration twice a day and added cracked corn
when the hogs got older. Whenever the pigs looked like they
were putting on too much weight, we stopped feeding the
extra corn for a while.

Fruit, vegetables and greens. If your garden is
unsprayed you can feel especially good about feeding the
pea vines, cabbage leaves, squash, cucumbers and melons to
your hogs. (They’re sure to like the greens and their
favorite forage — pigweed [also called
lamb’s-quarters] — is good eating for people as well as
hogs. If you’ve never had any, pick a mess of the young,
tender weeds this spring, clip off the roots and cook the
whole plant as you would spinach.) Canning time will
produce a bounty of peelings, core and pits for the pigs to
eat.

Milk. Very good for pigs if you’re lucky enough to have
a cow that produces a lot. For our piggers, milk came in
three forms: they got all the whey from my cheese making;
they received soured milk from a neighbor with a dairy
herd; and they were fed reconstituted powdered milk. The
whey and powdered milk were mixed with the hogs’ grain
ration to make a “soup”, but they preferred to eat the
clabbered, sour milk ungarnished.

Alfalfa hay. This growth food is rich in nitrogen,
which is an important constituent of protein. Our pigs
liked the hay so much that they rolled around in the forage
before they got down to the business of eating it.

Pasture. Good pasture can supply from 20 to 300 of a
pig’s feed requirements, and one acre can feed twenty
100-lb. hogs. If you want to plant a pasture try alfalfa,
clover and rape… or a mixture of rape and oats.

Butchering Pigs

If you have a tendency to grow sentimental toward your hogs
and postpone their butchering, remind yourself
that — by the time the porkers are six months
old — they’ll be eating like mad and most of the garden
goodies will be gone. Butchering becomes a matter of
economic necessity to anyone who’s not wealthy enough to
support such a hungry pet. If you still feel too
softhearted toward the pigs, or simply don’t have the time
to undertake such a large job, a slaughterhouse will do the
work for you (for a reasonable fee) and return each animal
in two impersonal-looking halves which will be a little
easier for you to deal with.

If, however, you do intend to butcher your hogs — and
you’ve never slaughtered a large animal before — by all
means get some knowledge, experience or help (preferably
all three) before you begin. You can get the experience by
volunteering to help a friend or neighbor with his
butchering… and you might obtain some help by seeking
out a man fairly skilled in the art and offering him a
portion of meat in exchange for his services. If neither of
these avenues is open, go to the nearest slaughterhouse and
ask the owner if you may come and watch on his next hog
butchering day. Observe carefully, learn all you can and
ask the meat inspector to tell you how to check the glands
on the hog for TB or other disease.

Some Spare Parts

When the old-timers slaughtered a hog, they utilized every
portion that was useful or edible… including the tripe
(intestines), head and feet. I’ll have to confess that
Arthur and I have not yet made headcheese, pickled pigs’
feet or boiled tripe. Still I’m sure that these dishes can
be tasty as well as nutritional, and for the sake of
completeness I am including three recipes gleaned from old
books, but not supplemented by any experience on my part:

Making Headcheese

Clean and scrape the hog’s head and wash thoroughly. Thrust
a hot poker into ears and nostrils. Cover the head with
slightly salted water, add bay leaf and onion and simmer
for several hours until the meat falls from the bones.
Drain meat, pick it from the bones, shred it and season
with salt, pepper, sage and thyme. Pack the meat tightly
into a bowl or crock, add a small amount of the liquid in
which it was cooked, place a cover on top and weight the
cover down. Let stand for three days in a cold place while
the headcheese solidifies, then slice and serve cold like
luncheon meat.

Pickled Pig’s Feet

Scrape and wash the pig’s feet, soak them in cold water far
two hours, wash and scrape again, then split the feet
lengthwise. Cook the hocks in salted water flavored with
vinegar, onion, sage, peppercorns and a few cloves. When
done, pack the feet in small crocks, and cover with the
water in which they were cooked. This liquid will form a
gelatinous mass. Place a lid on the crock and keep in a
cold place until needed for the table.

Tripe

Tripe should be soaked for several hours for several then
scraped clean put into salted water and simmered for two or
three hour until it becomes jelly-like. Drain off the
liquid and set it aside for later use. Put a tablespoon of
butter into a saucepan. When the butter is hot add a
teaspoonful of flour and cook a few minutes, but do not
brown. Then slowly add one cup of milk and stir the mixture
until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, a dash of pepper and
1/2 teaspoon onion juice, then add one cup of boiled tripe
and stir until the tripe is heated. Serve immediately.

Other portions of the hog that are more common to today’s
table — but still might be unfamiliar to some — are
the heart, liver, kidneys and tongue. These organ meats are
extremely rich in nutrients, especially the B vitamins, and
should be eaten as fresh as possible for maximum food
value.

The simplest way to prepare liver, heart and kidneys is to
slice the meat and fry it with onions. The tongue must be
boiled first, then chilled in cold water so that the skin
may be peeled off: after that it can be eaten plain or made
into hash with onions and potatoes.

Rendering Lard

The fatty pieces which cling to the intestines, ribs and
other parts of a hog may be rendered into lard. Before the
availability of vegetable oils, this lard served the family
for baking (it makes a beautiful, snowy pie crust), frying,
preserving food and soap making. It was also a barter stock
in trade. Whatever you intend to do with yours, however,
the first step — which removes excess moisture and
prevents spoilage — is called rendering. The operation
is usually done outside because of the odor it produces:

Wash and chill the fat trimmings and cut them into small
chunks. Then place the pieces in a heavy kettle (but do not
fill it full) and cook slowly at 210-212 degrees, while
stirring to prevent sticking. The temperature will rise as
the water evaporates, but do not let it go higher than
255 degrees. As the water evaporates, brown cracklings will
begin to float. Remove them… otherwise they’ll sink to
the bottom and burn. The lard will be done when the steam
ceases to rise. If the lard is intended for consumption,
strain it through cheesecloth; if not, place it directly
into clean crocks. Cover and store in a cool, dry place.

Not too many years ago, the “cracklings” from the lard were
a highly prized delicacy. I remember crunching on
them — hot and crispy from the oven — myself.
People didn’t worry about cholesterol then, and they
probably had no reason to, since they got a lot of
exercise. If you want to try cracklings, they can be eaten
plain, mixed with flour and made into biscuits or mixed
with cornmeal and made into Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple.

How to Make Sausage

Besides the fatty pieces that you’ve rendered into lard,
there will be  — after the cutting up — a number of
“trimmings”. Rejoice, for these small pieces of meat that
don’t seem to belong anywhere are the stuff that sausage is
made of.

The following instructions are for making sausage patties
rather than the link sausages (which require packing the
meat into cases made from the pig’s intestines). As far as
I can see, the sausage patties taste every bit as good and
they’re a whole lot easier to prepare.

First cut the meat that is to be used into chunks small
enough to fit into the meat grinder. The recommended
proportions are two parts lean meat to one part fat, but
you don’t need to follow that formula slavishly. Just use
what you have. Then, for each pound of meat add one
teaspoon salt, one teaspoon ground pepper and one teaspoon
ground sage. This is the basic seasoning for sausage and is
usually quite satisfactory, though you might want to
experiment by adding some savory, allspice, cloves, ginger
or sugar. The first time you make sausage it might be a
good idea to try only a half-pound. After this is ground,
you can fry some, taste it and then add either more meat or
more seasonings to suit your taste.

Run the meat through the grinder twice to pulverize it and
mix in the spices. That’s all there is to it! Shape the
meat into patties, wrap each one in wax paper (so there’s a
double layer between) and put them in the freezer. To
preserve sausage without freezing, place the patties in
sterilized jars or crocks, and pour half an inch of lard
over them. The lard excludes the air and-as long as the
coating isn’t broken and the crocks are kept cool-the
sausage should keep indefinitely.

Scrapple Recipe

Scrapple, it would seem, can be made from just about any
part of the hog that one might choose. Some use cracklings
and others neck bones as the major ingredient. We make ours
from sausage the way that Arthur’s father used to do back
in New York State. The following recipe was reconstructed
from memory and the measurements are approximate.

First cook one cup of rolled oats in enough water (about 2
cups) to make a thick porridge. Then do the same thing with
a cup of cornmeal. Now mix these two cereals, add a pound
of sausage and some more sausage seasoning. Pack the
mixture into a bowl or crock, chill until firm, cut into
slices and fry thoroughly. Serve the scrapple plain or
dripping with maple syrup!

Cutting Up Pork

Now that we’ve disposed of the various small parts of the
hog, let’s get back to those two huge chunks of pork that
are hanging out in the cold. The accompanying diagrams above show two ways of looking at a hog, and
should help the novice understand what cut of meat comes
from where. I will not attempt to give detailed
instructions for cutting up the meat, because this will
depend largely upon how you want to use it.

Curing Pork

There are two methods of curing to consider: the dry cure
in which the salt mixture is rubbed on the meat, and the
wet cure where the meat is immersed in brine. Some people
prefer the dry method because it requires less handling of
the meat. We like a wet cure because we think it offers
more insurance against insect damage and spoilage. Some
folks do larger cuts by the dry cure method and use a wet
cure on smaller pieces of meat.

Regardless of which method you use, first weigh each piece
to be cured, rub it with fine salt and allow the meat to
drain, flesh side down, for 6 to 12 hours. Then proceed:

Dry Cure

For each 100 pounds of meat use:

• 6-8 lbs. of salt (use the greater amount in warm
weather)
• 2-2-1/2 lbs. brown sugar, molasses or syrup
• 2 ounces saltpeter (available from drugstore or meat
packing plant)
• 5 ounces black pepper, ground
• optional: sage, savory or pickling spices or . . .

Do NOT omit the saltpeter from this
recipe!

Mix the ingredients well and rub the mixture over all the
surfaces of the meat… then pack the pork in a barrel,
tight wooden box or crock. The heavier pieces should be
placed on the bottom, with the bacon and smaller chunks on
top. After about three days, take the meat out and repack
it to insure complete contact with the cure. Leave the pork
until the cure is completed… this will take two days
for each pound that each piece weighs. Thus, a 10-pound ham
will take 20 days in cure while a 4-pound piece of bacon
will be finished in only 8 days. The liquid formed from the
meat juices will aid in curing the heavier pieces.

Wet Cure

For each 100 lbs. of meat use:

• 9-10 lbs. of medium grain salt (use more salt in warm
weather)
• 2-2-1/2 lbs, brown sugar or 4 lbs. unsulphured molasses or
maple syrup
• 2 ounces saltpeter
• 4-4-1/2 gallons of water

First note the weight of each piece of pork and add the
figures to get the total number of pounds of meat so that
you can make up the required amount of brine. Pack the pork
into crocks and fill them with water. Then remove the meat,
pour the water into a kettle, add the preserving
ingredients and mix up the curing brine. Ideally, this
brine should be prepared a day ahead to insure its complete
dissolution. Then the meat is packed in the
crocks — with the largest cuts on the bottom — and
covered with the brine.

Our instructions said to top each container with a hardwood
cover and weight it down with a stone… but we didn’t
have any such lids so we laid a length of 2 by 4 across the
top of every crock, weighted it down and wedged bottles
between the beam and the chunks of pork in order to keep
the meat submerged. Obviously, such an arrangement needs to
be checked frequently since the meat mustn’t be allowed to
rise out of the brine. It’s a good idea to pour the
solution off about once a week, take the meat out and
repack it in a different position.

Try to keep the crocks cool but not cold because, in spite
of the large quantity of salt it contains, this solution
will freeze if the temperature drops low enough. I’m not
sure how cold it got in our spare room last year when the
outside temperature fell to zero and below… but our
brine froze and we had to move the crocks into the kitchen.

If the brine becomes “ropy” — which means that a scurry
forms on its top — empty the crocks, wash them out and
wash the meat thoroughly. It’s then best to repack the pork
in fresh brine but-if this isn’t possible — you can
salvage the original solution by boiling (but not burning!)
it and skimming off the impurities.

The large pieces, like the hams, will require four days in
cure for each pound of meat… thus a 20-pound ham will
take 80 days! (Country living builds patience.)

The smaller pieces, like bacon, need only three days in
cure per pound… so a five-pound piece of bacon will be
ready in 15 days. Make yourself a chart showing when each
chunk a meat should come out and post it on the wall
somewhere. Sow every piece of pork in clean water for half
an hour when it’s taken out of the brine and — if by
chance a chunk has cured too long — leave it an extra
three minutes in the water for each day overtime in cure.

If your pieces of meat are all of different sizes, you may
find yourself taking each one out at a different time. We
tried to group ours by leaving some pieces in a few days
extra and soaking them to compensate for the overcure. This
way, we could smoke several pieces of meat at a time.

Smoking Pork

In order to smoke meat, one must either have a smokehouse
or — as we do — access to a neighbor’s. The
building we use is made of wood, about three feet deep by
five feet wide and eight feet high at the center of its
peaked roof. A metal shield is propped against the back
wall, a fire built on the dirt floor and the smoke allowed
to escape under the eaves and through the shingled roof.

Most of the instructions and plans for building smokehouses
feature a fire pit removed from the smokehouse itself…
possibly for safety and efficiency. But all the smokehouses
that I’ve ever seen in use have been the simple walk-in
wooden buildings like the one owned by our neighbor. It’s
probably matter of individual taste. In building your
smokehouse, don’t be too concerned with providing vents
through which the smoke can escape. The purpose is to hold
the smoke in… it’ll find its own way out.

Figure 3 shows a smoker — suitable for small quantities
of meat — made from a barrel, placed on an incline and
connected to a cement fire pit by means of a buried metal
pipe.

For larger quantities and/or frequent use, a larger
smokehouse is in order. Figure 4 shows such a design set
over a pit and connected by a trench to a fire pit dug in
the ground. The trench and fire pit are covered with sheet
metal and the building has a false bottom — bored
with holes for the smoke to pass through — about a
foot above ground level.

These instructions and diagrams will give you an idea of
what can be done… combine them, improvise and see what
you can come up with. As a finishing touch, be sure to add
poles — either of metal or green wood — from which
to hang the meat.

Remember that the principle in smoking is to allow the
pyroligneous acid in the smoke to permeate and slightly dry
the meat without cooking it. The longer and more slowly a
piece of meat is smoked, the longer it will keep. If the
meat is overheated, it will soften and fall into the fire;
if it’s scorched, it’ll harden, crack and turn rancid. The
ideal temperature for smoking is between 110 and 120 degrees.

Armed with this information and with your smokehouse in
order, you’re ready to proceed. (We assume your meat has
been properly cured, taken out on time, soaked and washed.
You may want to wrap it in cheesecloth to keep off the
soot, but this is not essential.)

Pass either a string or wire through the meat and form a
loop around the pole. Hams should be hung with the heavier
side up and the hock hanging down to retain the flavorful
juices. The pieces of meat should not touch one another so
that the smoke can circulate freely to all parts. Check
each chunk for pieces that are “folded over” in a way that
would prevent smoke penetration.

Use chips, sawdust and small pieces of wood for the fire… keeping in mind that it’s smoke you’re after, not heat.
Apple, hickory, beech, sassafras, maple and other fruit and
nut woods are all suitable. Do not use resinous
woods.
We got a lot of different advice about smoking:
some people say to smoke constantly, others say smoke every
second day. So we did it the way that was most convenient
for us… we kept the fire going during the day and let
it go out at night.

There are widely differing opinions — ranging from 2
days up to 10 weeks! — on how long meat should be
smoked. Again we relied on our own judgment and that of our
neighbor, who pronounced the bacon finished at the end of
the third day and the hams on the fifth. The only
criterion, apparently, is appearance… properly smoked
meat should have from a light to dark mahogany color all
over. The darker the color, the longer the meat will keep.

By the time you’ve tended the smokehouse for several days,
your mouth will surely be watering for some of that
well-earned meat… and it’s probably extraneous to tell
you that the bacon and hams should “season” for another 30
to 60 days to insure the best flavor. No doubt you’ll start
eating your product immediately… but for the pieces
that you can’t eat right away, here’s how to go
about storing them:

Optimal storage conditions are cool (43 degrees) and dry.
This will discourage one of the main problems, which is
insects, because they don’t like dryness. For added
protection, you can either (1) wrap the meat in cheesecloth
or similar material, followed by layers of newspaper, and
store in heavy paper bags, tied at the top or (2) wrap the
meat in muslin and bury it in boxes containing ashes
retrieved from the smoking. The ashes are supposed to
increase the smoky flavor and this last method sounds like
a good way to put away a ham until Easter time!

For more helpful pig farming information:

All About Pigs and Pig Lingo
Raise Your Own Pigs
Tips for Raising Pigs During Sow Farrowing Time
Homestead Hogs: Pork Production Basics