Friday, November 25, 2011

Finishing the Rawhide

It has been very rainy these last few days; fishing has been poor; mushrooms are too gouey to hunt; we pushed through today to finish the latest deer hides into rawhide.

Along the edges and in patches throughout the hide there are still small stubble of hairs. The torch works well to singe the stragglers off.

We rinsed the hide several times in rainwater, to remove the lime as much as possible.

Each hide took 3 rinsings.

The rinse-water discolored less and less as we soaked it, but the hide still had a soapy feel to it.

After rinsing, we added about 1/3 cup of vinegar to another 4 gallons of water to neutralize the hide.

The vinegar took away the soapy feel of the hide, and made it feel very rubbery.

While the hide drip dried, we built a hot fire and used fence posts with some heavy sheep wire to suspend the hide over the fire for smoking.

We used green cedar boughs to make the fire smoke for the hides.

While the hides smoked, we started decorating for Christmas, and cut a bunch of cedar boughs for decoration.

We smoked 2 deer hides for about 4 hours today while we took care of other chores.

The kids found some of the shaving cream cans that hadn't been used up yesterday.

They left creative decorations around of their own.

After about 3 hours, the hides dried out quickly.

The cedar smoke gave a very nice smell to the rawhide, and will preserve it well from bacteria and rot until we need it.

During that last hour of smoking, the hides turned translucent, too.

Here you can see the darker color of the dry hide on the right.

When the rawhide was done, we trimmed a bunch of 1" and 2" strips off the edges to keep in a container of salt water.

These strips will be ready for small tasks, without us having to first soak the rawhide before we can use it.

Some of these strips still had alot of hair on them, and the torch took it off well. Smelled like branding time on the ranch again!

When the heavy patches of hair burned, it quickly insulated the deeper hair from the heat.

We rubbed the scorched hair on the edge of the table to remove the burnt stubble, and torched it again.

Here's the assortment of strips we'll keep wet and ready for use.

A bunch of salt in the water will help keep the hide from rotting.

On the right is the final rawhide folded up.

The hide shrunk to about half the size of the wet hide after smoking.

The hide weighted about 17 lbs when we started, and now after it is dehair'ed, scraped, and smoked, it weighs only about 4 lbs.

There was still fun throughout the day while the rawhide cooked - including shooting the air cannon.

Dried and folded, we will store it in the garden house.

It isn't good to keep it in plastic, but in paper or other 'breathable' containers it will keep indefinitely.

We hung it up to keep mice and critters from getting interested.

The fence posts and fencing worked great for smoking - the fencing hung onto the wet hides easily and kept them from bunching up.

We laid the posts down to get the last hide closer to the smoke as the day grew old.

And then we went back to the air cannon.

We put in about 3 hours of work on the 2 hides we've completed so far. It would have been quicker in warmer temperatures, but we weren't in too big of a hurry.

It will be really nice to have it on hand for projects now - stay tuned.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Shaving Cream in the Turkey-Bowl

Festivus has the "airing of grievences", but we have our annual Shaving cream fight.

It amounts to about the same - releasing pent up emotions!

This year we hid the ammo all around the yard. It started out with a scramble!

Before long the white stuff was flying again.

Everyone is pretty good sports with it - and they all expect to get covered, so there is less running and more of the "Thanksgiving Stand-off!"

The dog was busy cleaning up the whipping cream...

... and didn't avoid the shaving cream action.

The stuff was flying faster than a blizzard in Wyoming...

Good clean fun.

Some of those sweatshirts hadn't been cleaned since the last fight...

Our favorite way START to celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving from us!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rawhide in the Rain

Wow. When it rains, it pours.

Grey and rainy for days and days. Winter is setting in.

Rain is good for cutting trees, and scraping rawhide...

We did setup a cover to get out of the worst of it.

We had one day last week when the clouds parted, and took the opportunity to rake up most of our leaves.

We deposited them on the garden, where they are rebuilding soil during the long dark.

After almost 9 days now, the hair is pulling easily from the deerhides.

Time to make more progress.

Scraping hides is much more fun as a team.

The colder air has made the soaking slow, but it has also kept the smell at bay. The hides don't smell bad, or even 'meaty' at all.

The hair pulls off easily, especially in the middle of the hide.

Interestingly, the edges and along the neck of the hide is still difficult to pull the hair - I assume because of the thickness of the hide there?

There are still a few spots where the hair is more stubborn...

We put a bit more time into the hides, and will soak them another day or two.

It is nice that at this point the hides are very forgiving - we can neglect them for weeks if we need to.

The girls built some fun Thanksgiving cookies to help cheer the rainy grey.

They tasted as good as they looked.

The rain did drop the last of the leafy holdovers from their lofty perch.

We have a few more leaves to rake, but they will wait a bit, too.

And alittle sunny light at eventide was welcome, even if short-lived.

Our older daughter also put together a pumkin cheesecake.

This will be a great holiday. We have much to be greatful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rawhide Update

Stirring the hides this AM, we found that more hair is pulling out easily.

You can see the hides are white from the lime.

They have been soaking for > 4 days in ~45*F. A week at 70*F is best, so are still planning to soak at least another week or two.

I pulled one out anyway to test it.

Here you can see the other fancy tool needed for rawhide - Mr. 2x6.

Patches of the hair pulled out easily.

Carefully scraping with a scraper or draw knife will help keep from gouging the hide.

There are still alot of areas where the hair starts to break off, rather than pull out.

Its starting to look good, but we'll soak it more.

Interestingly, the leg hair doesn't pull at all yet.

The hide is much thinner on the legs, and the hair finer. I would have expected the hair here to lessen first.

Hmmm. Back into the can with it.

Horn Soup

The kids have been pining for their antlers... so while they are at school, we made horn soup to clean off the extra... "meat".

With the water starting to boil, we added some dishsoap - it really helps loosen the meat.

Helps with the smell, too.

Thats a nice big batch of soup!

Got alittle excited with the knife, and it went in deep.

Superglue sealed it right up, fast!

A year or so ago we picked up 60 or 70 tubes of the stuff on eBay for less than $7.

We use it all the time now, too.

Waterproof, I was able to get back to cutting without missing a beat.

I trimmed most of the 'meat' off, and the dog cleaned up the porch.

Now, Mom is willing to let them in the house where they will dry by the woodstove.

After they dry, the smaller flakes will peel right off.

Now I'll just add a few potatoes to the pot, and dinner is ready too!

Grape Cutting

The sun peeked out today while cooking horn soup, and so it was a good time to dive into pruning the grapes.

Usually we wait until Feb, but it was so cluttered and shabby, it needed done sooner.

As soon as the leaves are off, the vines are ready to be cut.

We pruned back to just the main vine.

Much tidier and clean looking. Never mind all the leaves in the background...

Interestingly, the vine starts out in the garden house are still green - and they've been dry for weeks while we were out in Wyoming...

The porch is much better looking, too.

All ready for winter.

Hard to believe it was like this just a few weeks ago...

Well, the grapes are green so it was a few months back.

Oh, those good ole summer days...