Wednesday, I took my grandson Ryan for a walk through the Old Sturbridge Village, where he gets to see all the animals which he has grown to love. This time of the year as spring grows closer, so does the anticipation of the birth of spring lambs. I heard a couple are expected.
Drawing close to the smoke house, I noticed that this time it wasn't a silent, still brick shed-like dwelling, taking its place along the garden, just behind the Freeman house, but it was smoking.
Having the little one with me made it difficult to roll the carriage up to the spot to take a peek, trying to learn the inevitable. So, we passed wondering. One of the places we usually stop at is the pig pen. And, again no pigs. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know or quess why.
Yesterday, I went back to the area and saw a resident chopping his wood. I inquired about the smoke and the pigs. Sure enough, one had met his demise in January, and was infact, being smoked yesterday. I got to see the process. The other luckily escaped to a neighboring farm.
They had to work very hard in those yesteryears, for the meat that they enjoyed. Of course they had chickens, but most of those layed eggs until they died and very rarely were killed for meat. So, I'm to understand that for the most part pork was the staple.
The fat was seperated and utilized for making soap. This process began with the women of the home's removal of the fat after the butchering of the pig. They placed straw in a barrel, along with ashe and the fat, in a layering method on a sunny rock, uncovered at times, and stirred with water, until the broken down substance leaked onto a groove in the stone which was under the barrel and leaked down to the container. I was told this was lye soap, which had the consistency of soft peanut butter. Some was cooked down to be hardened into a mold. I'm not sure if they used it to bathe with, as at this point in time, scented bath soaps were available at the local store. Mainly this mixture produced was to wash clothes which were line dried.
Their method of washing the body was with a stiff brush and water, unless they had the option of buying the soap at the market in which goods came in from all over the world.
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