The Catoctin FFA (formerly known as Future Farmers of America) Alumni sponsored an educational butchering fundraiser to raise money that will fund their annual banquet in May. The event took place on Friday, February 12, 2016, in the Catoctin High School agricultural area. It brought together an eagerness to learn the butchering process by as many as thirty-five students, paired with the talents and traditions taught by fifty-six volunteers from local farming families.
The day started at 6:30 a.m., when the hogs arrived already cut into halves from Horst Meats in Hagerstown. Pre-orders determined the number of hogs butchered. The number of hog’s butchered was up to twenty, from eighteen last year. From the point of pulling the halves off the truck, stations were set up where the various parts of the process were completed.
A long table was the center of the operation, where men and women were intent on cutting the large parts of the hog halves into smaller parts. The various parts were then taken to other stations for continued processing, weighing, and bagging.
Catoctin students, Madison Feltner and Lizzie Devilbiss, sorted rib and loin cuts into four-pound bags. Volunteers Steve Smith, Shea Smith, and Daryl Poffenberger bagged loose sausage. Catoctin students, Mackenzie Henderson, Carley Flora, and Josh Hubbard ground lard that would later be boiled in fired kettles to make cracklin’. Volunteer, Bernie Hobbs, and students, Cody Harmon and Megan Millison, separated cuts of lean meat and fats, passing them on to ground into sausage that would be sold loose or stuffed in casings.
Dave Shriver (Catoctin FFA Alumni member) volunteered his skills by cutting pork loins with bone into chops and cutting ribs into manageable pieces.
Outside, Bob Norwood and Rob McAfee, among many others, worked to tend fires under several cast-iron kettles, stirring the contents.
“We work with head meats and bony meats. Once meat leaves the bone, we strip it and grind it into puddin’ and scrapple,” explained Norwood.
Brian Hendrickson, Catoctin’s Ag Education Instructor, said, “Butchering is, for sure, an educational activity that teaches the science of butchering and the various parts of the process.”
This butchering event has been held annually at Catoctin for twenty-six years. The idea was suggested by then-FFA Alumni president, Gene Bollinger, and coordinated for many years by Catoctin’s former Ag teacher, Robert Beavan.
Denise Shriver, Catoctin FFA Alumni volunteer, has coordinated the butchering since 2010. Denise’s husband, Dave Shriver, who was manning the saw, gestured to the organized crowd of volunteers and said, “Many farmers just show up and volunteer. With a piece of mail they know to come on this day.” The butchering is always held on the second Friday in February.
The event was indeed an educational process, during which, generations of farmers passed along the process and traditions. Several families had as many as three generations represented at the event. Ashley McAfee (2012 Catoctin graduate, former FFA Ambassador, and former Maryland State FFA Officer), was there with her brother, Justin McAfee (current Catoctin senior), her father, Jeff McAfee (Catoctin FFA Alumni member), and her grandfather, Rob McAfee. Daniel Myers (2010 Catoctin graduate, former FFA Ambassador, and former Maryland State FFA Officer) was there with his father, Bobby Myers (Catoctin FFA Alumni member), and grandfather, Rodman Myers (Catoctin FFA Alumni member).
Shelby Hahn, a 2011 graduate of Catoctin, is now a junior at Penn State University, majoring in Animal Sciences. She said, “I’m happy to see that the program has grown. It’s something we use to educate the public, but it’s something that brings the community together and makes us special at Catoctin.”
Catoctin is the only school in the state of Maryland to host a full butchering. Maryland Public Television was on hand filming the butchering all day. The footage will be aired December 2016 in their Farm to Harvest series that highlights various unique agricultural events.
Matt Dellinger, FFA Alumni Association Vice President, was outside learning the kettles from “the older generation.”
“It brings community together with tenured farmers, community members, students, and businesses,” expressed Dellinger.
Much appreciation is extended to all of the volunteers who contributed to the success of the event.
Special thanks to the following: Hillside Turkey Farm and Jubilee Foods for donating the use of refrigerated trucks, Norman and Sandy Shriver for donating the bags used for packaging the meat, Mrs. Ruth Lenhart for the use of her family’s equipment, Robert Wiles for use of his equipment, and Paul Dennis for the use of his equipment.
Mackenzie Henderson, Carley Flora, and Josh Hubbard are shown volunteering during the Catoctin FFA Alumni Educational Butchering Fundraiser.