Monday, January 17, 2011

Tanning a Goat Hide - Part I

We've had a few conversations in our household on whether or not I should blog about the tanning of goat hides. It was decided that as long as the pictures don't get too graphic it was a suitable blog topic. So here goes ...

The adventure began when Barb picked up the hides from the abattoir. The butcher confirmed that Barb was picking up one brown hide and one mostly black hide. "Yes, that's Chocolate and Lucky", Barb said. To which the butcher replied, "You named them?!" Huh, it didn't seem strange to us to name them.

The hides were in excellent shape but they still needed a few hours of 'cleaning'. I gave them a quick wash and then laid them on top of garbage bags on a large table.

With a very sharp knife I removed all the "fleshy bits" and tidied up the edges as best I could. I did a much better job on Lucky's hide because I did his last.

The task of cleaning the hides really felt like a very horrible job at the beginning but that soon changed. I became more and more comfortable with what I was doing as I went along. By the time I was finished cleaning the first hide I was really starting to enjoy the process. It felt very primal and somewhat instinctive.

Once the hides were ready I placed them in a plastic container containing 5 gallons of water with 2.5 pounds of dissolved alum and 10 pounds of dissolved rock salt. They are to stay in this solution for about a week before we can move on to the next stage which includes more washing and lots of stretching.

Everything in the first stage seems to be going well, the kids are showing interest in the process and they are looking forward to having their goat skin rugs. So far so good.

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