AFTER all the talk of the long lost farming art of storing potatoes in a pie of mud and straw over winter, now comes the delicate matter of how to kill the yard pig.

Just after the Second World War, Frances Whiteley’s father, George Flear, ran a village pub in Lincolnshire and, as a trained pork butcher, he supplemented his income by travelling to farms, in a decommissioned Post Office van, to undertake the annual killing of the yard pig.

“He was one of the first to use a humane killer rather than the existing methods,” says Frances, who lives in Bilton-in-Ainsty, near Wetherby. “Following the stunning process, the pig was laid on a cratch – a low wooden table, with two handles at each end, and a leg at each corner. Dad had adapted his cratch so it had a pair of wheels at one end so that it could be pushed like a wheelbarrow.

“The pig's throat could then be painlessly cut to kill the animal and allow it to be bled.”

The blood was retained for black pudding, the toenails were removed so the feet could be used to make brawn, the head was cut off and hung up, and then the carcass was hoisted onto a tripod so the belly could be slit open for the removal of “the entrails and pluck”.

“The chitlings, or large intestine, were cleaned and saved, but I'm not sure for what purpose they were used, together with the small intestines which went to provide the sausage skins,” says Frances. “The pluck consisting of the heart, lungs, liver etc was also hung up, and these items provided elements of what was known as 'the fry'.”

This would have taken most of the morning; in the afternoon, after the meat tissue had had time “to set”, George returned to “cut out”.

“This consisted of butchering the pig to the customers’ requirements,” says Frances. “A cut was made either side of the spine leaving a central wedge of about ten inches which provided the famous Lincolnshire stuffed chine – this was a salted joint, partly cut through and stuffed with chopped parsley, tied with string and put in a cotton or mutton cloth and boiled as you would a joint of ham. It was served cold sliced in the opposite direction to the original cuts with an added dash of vinegar.

George Flear, the Lincolnshire butcher, and his daughter Frances on horseback in about 1957

George Flear, the Lincolnshire butcher, and his daughter Frances on horseback in about 1957

“Most of the joints were salted as this was the only method of storing the meat.

“Some was made into sausages, pork pies and brawn; any excess would be offered to neighbouring farms, especially those with pigs of their own, in the hope that the favour would be repaid.

“The excess fat was rendered to make lard. Numerous trays, pancheons and other utensils appeared from the farmhouse to collect the various cuts of meat – the farmers' wives must have been very skilful and hard working in preparing of all these parts of the pig.

“It was sometimes after dark when dad finished his part in all this, and he charged the princely sum of £1 per pig.

“Looking back, I think the procedure would have melted the clip board of any health and safety officer.”