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In Kentucky (where I live) and throughout the mid-South, Thanksgiving isn’t all about remembering the most famous of pilgrim potlucks. Many rural people my grandparents’ age—were they alive, all would be older than 100—worked factory jobs during the day and farmed on nights and weekends to make ends meet. Thanksgiving meant a day off work, though farm duties didn’t abate. That meant the last Thursday in November saw the end of fattened sows who’d unwittingly farrowed their replacements in the family drove.

The region’s late November weather was typically cold enough to allow farmers to slaughter hogs, cure their hams and bellies…

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