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.