Nobody said it was easy!
And Smokey is entertaining and informational - he's also a bit of an *******! He enjoys making everything look difficult and impossible for modern man. I read his monthly column and enjoy it - I also use it, occassionally, as lining for a cat's litter box!
Go to a library and look for some Rodale books on canning and curing. Check around for old Mother Earth News magazines.
Yeah, making bacon, hams, sausage, etc. take time and effort. That's the way they saved food for later.
My dad grew up as a sharcroppers son in south Georgia. Grew up HARD during the depression. He would not cure meat on a bet - he'd had to do it to survive. But you'd best believe he knew how to put together a smoke house, build a fire, etc. etc. etc. His teaching is one reason I'm not afraid to try just about anything - heck the worst that can happen is a fark up some meat - it's not like we're not going to eat.
Do some real research about curing meat before you decide it's not worth the time. Even if you never do it - you'll sure know how!
As a side to all you new guys: for some reason that latest crop of new members are looking for single line, one-way, answers to questions. We've got over 800 members and so over 800 ways of looking at your question. In a lot of cooking and especially in BBQ there often is NO right/one answer.
You've got to cook something to see if it works for you. After many hours (and lots of "ok" bbq) you'll KNOW when you got something right! After a while you don't carry the thermometer receiver around because you know how often you need to tend the fire or approximately when you need to think about foiling or taking the meat out.
You'll understand why we recommend the WSM if you want time to go see your kids soccer game!! Why we recommend the baffle and firegrate mod - and you'll pass that along to others - and these modifications are common sense - it's amazing how many cookers the same "rules" apply to.
Learn. If you've got access to pork try out a couple of sides of bacon. You can cure the sides without a barrel, for example. Build a true smoker from an old refrigerator or make a wooden box - old time smoke houses were often wood and could double up as a corn crib or whatever - wood walls, tin roof, dirt floor, smudge pot for smoke, etc. etc.
If you can find the Foxfire books from a school in Rabun County, GA - www.foxfire.org
- check them out. Great reading from research done in Appalachia - covers music, food, myths, legends, etc. One volume (I forget which) deals a LOT with putting up foods - you probably won't want to do it the way they talk about - but talk about an education.
There's a heritage behind this thing we call BBQ. It isn't all steel cookers and select woods.