PICKY EATIN’: Greens host annual hog killing, syrup making
Published 2:00 am Saturday, December 5, 2015
Some folks will eat anything.
Some folks had rather not know what they’re eating and just be left alone to enjoy it.
Others are more “picky” about what they eat.
And, those are the kind of folks that travel down the narrow, winding dirt road to Green Acres, which is the place to be the each Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Atlas and Rosa Green don’t send out invitations to their annual hog killing and syrup making. They don’t have to. Folks in and around the Tarentum and Tennille communities have had that date circled in red on their calendars since January.
The Greens have been hosting the hog killings and syrup makings for 12 years or more and, “Good Lord, willing,” Atlas Green said they’ll keep the tradition going as long as folks keep coming.”
Most of those who host those country-kind of events, stick to one or the other, syrup making or hog killing. The Greens have a taste for both.
“I didn’t grow up killing hogs and making syrup; I got started later in life,” Green said. “I had older guy friend who wanted to set up something to make syrup and I bought what we needed and set up what we needed because he couldn’t. We started making syrup and, then, to go along with it, we started killing hogs and folks started coming and we just kept going.”
So, the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Green Acres has become a tradition in the Tarentum community. Family and friends and a few rank strangers gather for a day of thanksgiving and old-fashioned cooking and country living, said Freddie Turner, who is among those who are there from the cutting of the cane to the bottling of the syrup and from the killing of the hog to picking it off bone.
“Oh, there’s a whole bunch of us that help out but it’s all because of Atlas and Rosa,” Turner said. “They are some of the most generous folks I know. They are good salt-of-the -earth people that know what the important things in life really are.”
Turner said to get ready for Saturday’s traditional community event, the men came together for the hog killing on Friday with Donnie Green doing most of the honors.
“Atlas raises hogs and it was one of his hogs, about a 350-pounder, that we cooked over the coals,” Turner said. “We got it on around 6 o’clock Saturday morning, about same time the syrup making started. Once the hog started getting done, folks started picking on it. By dinnertime, the ol’ hog didn’t have any ribs.”
While the hog was cooking and the syrup was making, the Greens’ guests were busy visiting. The men said the women were gossiping and the women said they men were telling tales and spinning yarns.
The chatter was lively and quick and the laughter was loud and long. Not one among them admitted to the “unhealthiness” of hog meat and cane syrup.
“My pa died of hog lard at the age of 88,” someone lamented and Turner said family member of his ate bacon and eggs every day of his 91 years.
“So, we’re all right to go ahead,” Green said, laughing.
One after another, the guests arrived with bowls of turnips and collard greens, potato salad, slaw, green beans and sweet potatoes and tons of cakes, cookie and pies.
Brady Austin ignored questions about the absence of his famous cornbread but, instead, directed the interest to his wash pot of rice boiled in the broth from 10 pounds of leg quarters and to the pot of hog stew.
“Some folks call it hog stew; some call it liver and lights,” Turner said. “I call it good.”
The heart and neck meat were added to the liver and spongy lungs that are the main ingredients for hog stew that was seasoned with spices and red pepper.
“It’s spicy and it’s good,” Turner said. “If you’ll try it, you’ll like it. Trying is the hard part for some folks.”
When the sun was high in the sky, all of the guests of Atlas and Rosa gathered around to give thanks for family and friends and to bless the food. The sweet, sticky aroma floated heavily down from where the syrup was coming off.
“You can’t go to the grocery store and buy syrup like that what’s cooked in a kettle over a fire,” Turner said. “It’s so thick you can’t drag a biscuit through it cause it’ll tear a biscuit up.”
When the sun hung low in the sky, the crowd began to dwindle. Many of them left with a jar of cane syrup but all of them left with uplifted spirits from having spent a day together.
“Just country living. That’s all it is,” Turner said of the day.
“It’s not for everybody but, for those of us who like this kind of living, it’s a day we look forward to all year long. We’re already looking forward to the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2016.”