Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tanning a Hide. What was I thinking?

For several steers now, Shelly and I have chatted about keeping the hides and tanning them here at the ranch. After many late nights of internet surfing I decided that my brain was adequately prepared for the task. We started with a black hide from one of our butcher steers. The packing house placed salt on the green side after it was harvested from the carcass of the animal.

When I got it home I opened it up and laid it in the shower stall of the barn. It was sprinkled with more salt and left alone for two days. I nailed 4x4s in a square shape, this is used as a rack to stretch the hide. The salt was rinsed off and the hide placed in the middle of the rack. I made holes in the edge of the hide to string twine through. I should have used rope instead of twine. The twine held fine, but had I been using my gray matter I would have realized that something that was a bit stronger would have come in handy later when 'working' the hide. Instead I will have to take it off the rack to work it.

After stringing it on the rack, we placed it against the wall of the shower stall and began the tedious work of scraping off any left over membrane.

Jolene helped a lot in the scraping process. I would have never thought of spending my Friday afternoon scraping meat off of a hide when I was her age. I am thankful that she is eager to do so many things. I'm pretty sure that some of these 'homesteading' skills won't help in attracting a prom date. I don't worry too much anyway, she has the Aunts that will fill and help with that.

After the scraping process was completed we washed the hair side with good ole 'Mane and Tail' shampoo and left it over night.

We then worked a mixture of hot water and eggs into the hide. I thought about getting some pig brains to do a brain tan but Jolene crinkled her nose at me. We decided to use what we had on the ranch and the hens have been more than accommodating with the eggs lately. As soon as I'm done with milking today we will work in another dozen or so eggs.

So far it seems to be going well. We've a couple more steps to complete, which includes the time consuming and physical abilities of working the hide. Some of my friends have told me that I am nuts, of course I knew this already. If all goes well the next one will be a buffalo. Wish me luck!

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