Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by arawajo, Apr 29, 2007.
Anyone able to tell me how to tan a cow hide naturally?
I have tanned skins but some time ago. That aside I dont think much has changed..
Start with a 'wet hide'. Hang it in a sunny dry place. The shed door was convenient as a kid. I lived in dry areas as a kid.
You need to stretch the hide back to near its original shape, somehow. A claypan or a huge wooden door works, or 'tie' the skin into a frame by piercing the skin and running thongs/twine consistently through loops around the edges. This has to be firm. The reason being you have to scrape all the fat/sinew/residue off the hide.
You will hear a lot about salting hides. This is what you do with greenhide to hold it in obeyance until you can render/scrape the hide and is a useful part of the process.
If you 'salt' a hide [for an indefinite period] you will finish up with redhide. A useful product because it WILL shrink. You can make all sorts of ropes and hawsers from this product that has a decent lifespan.
If you are after a cowskin for the lounge floor then 'tanning' is not such a huge issue and can be achieved with 'tan bark'... ie acacia chips.. [favouring the bark].
Just to recap.
First salt [for a week or so]
Dry for a couple of weeks and scrape and salt [if possible]
Then tan using solutions or tanbark
Lastly dry, tidy, trim and use
In-depth bark tanning:
Thank you so much - we searched and googled for ages trying to get info. The calf is being slaughtered today and I have salt ready to salt the hide. Some information we got was to pour salt on it - wrap it up for a couple of days then clean the gunk off.
For a tanning solution we are going to try casaurina bark. We have some soaking in readiness. Don't know if it will work though.
The animal is a Dexter bull about 15 months old so it won't be a big hide.
We don't know what we will use it for yet but if we can tan it satisfactorily we can then sort that out.
I have never killed and eaten my own animal before so I'm not sure how this will go. The farm butcher is due in two hours and I have the young bull locked up ready.
I killed a chook and cleaned it once but then I couldn't eat it. I'm a sook. I hope I can eat this bull though because Dexter meat is good.
Well the farm butcher came and killed the fatted calf today. I got a headache and nausea for a while but I'm ok now.
There is a coldroom out the back humming away with my bull calf quartered and hanging skinless on hooks. The meat looks good actually - not much fat, just lots of meat. The butcher will be back at 6 am to cut it up.
I didn't think I'd be able to do it but I got the hide out of the wheelbarrow and draped over the trampoline hair side down. Then I hosed it off because it was covered in grass and dirt. I actually rubbed my hands over the blood and fat and bits of meat to get the dirt off!
I rubbed salt all over it then, with my bare hands, and wrapped it up and put in in an old rubbish bin. Martin and I will scrape it next and then soak it in the tanning solution we have made from casaurina bark. Fingers crossed this will work.
The information from 9anda1f and floot has been great, thanks guys.
Ask the butcher how to brine meat.
This is a great strategy for some cuts... I wouldnt be brining much of a 15month old dexter but a little bit will be handy and fun. You have some salt already.
good luck I am carnivorous with envy..
Good on you, arawajo. It's hard relearning how to have such a direct relationship with killing animals, but it seems a really important thing for more of us to be doing. Well done.
I'd love to learn how to skin and tan possum skins (them being a pest and harvestable resource in NZ).
Its sort of weird and yet only natural this relationship with killing animals.
When I laid the hide out I felt this weird urge to wrap it around me. I didn't do it but I think it must have been in my ancient psyche or genetic memory or something. I could imagine myself doing that. It looked warm.
The big thing for me will be eating the meat. I'm used to buying meat wrapped in plastic with price tags on. I have another nine Dexters and still breeding so I'd be silly not to eat them.
I am not a vegetarian 'cos I love animals, I just really hate vegetables!!
The whole process of buying meat & milk out of plastic containers has removed the animal/human connection for many folk and allowed an odd set of attitudes to become the norm. This confusion or dichotomy means that many westerners become vegetarians on moral grounds.
Don't get me wrong I admire vegetarians who do so on moral grounds, they have thought this through and taken a stand, [besides eating like can have huge health benefits].
What I am on about with all this is the loss, by disassociation, of the community's connection with food animals. I dont think this is very healthy either and has only really come about in the past 40 years with the advent of one-stop supermarkets.
The Farm Butcher
The butcher came back today and cut up the carcass. 120 kgs of meat and the whole thing cost $320.
I bagged the meat as he cut it up. Lots of bones for the dogs too.
I think I'm more of a carnivore than I realised. The meat looked really yummy.
The whole event was quite Ok for me. The bull calf was still in his home paddock when he died, no being loaded onto a big noisy truck and being taken to a killing place. The butcher was a nice local bloke who understood my sookiness and didn't make me feel like a silly female.
The coldroom hummed away quietly out the back overnight and the butcher arrived at 6am and was gone by 9am. All finished.
I'll let you know how I go actually eating the meat next.
I am enjoying following your thread as I have always taken for granted the killing, hanging, butchering etc. Our local mobile butcher does everything including sausages, corned beef, liver inspection. Our last cow went over 400kgs! That's a lot of beef to consume considering my wife is a vegetarian. I hope you render all the fat. To me that is the best part sitting round the fire rendering lovely organic dripping. Sorry, second best part. We use the bones to catch mudcrabs, Yummy.
The butcher I had said the liver was sus - a couple of spots on it he said.
I explained that I didn't want any yukky bits but he kept the tongue and kidneys for Martin. I don't want to think about that. There was very little fat, I think it's in amongst the stuf for my dogs. What do you use the rendered fat for?
Martin got steaks. Martin cooks his own meals as I have this thing about not being a housewife. I don't eat steak. I got mostly mince as I can do stuff with that and it doesn't resemble an animal too much. I am a recovering vegetarian. I did get bolar blades for pot roast and some diced steak for stewing.
The tanning solution is looking good - very brown. We will clean the hide on the weekend and bung it in the barrell and see what happens. I hope it works because the skin is lovely. It's black and the hair is quite long.
Martin has tanned goat skins before using chrome tanning. If necessary I suppose we can try that if the casaurina tannin fails.
Have you used the hides on your beasts?
Well done on having your own beast butchered. I think only people who've done that sort of thing should be allowed to eat meat. If you don't have the stomach to eat an animal you've known, you shouldn't have it in your stomach!
The only hides I have ever tanned have been kangaroos, but I don't see why the process would be any different. How to tan it so that the fur remains, I don't know. This method just lets you use it the way you might use cloth - for clothing, patches, bags, etc. We did it as follows,
First, remove the hide.
Second, stretch it out on a frame, and scrape it down, removing the fat, and any flesh or sinew left. Use something like a hard metal spatula for the scraping, a knife will seem quicker but you'll probably end up tearing the hide.
Third, get a bucket of fine wood ash from your stove and put it in a barrel of water, stir it around well. Put the hide in that. Leave the hide in there for about 3 days if it's warm weather, or 5 days if it's cold. Stir it around thoroughly just after breakfast and dinner. The ash makes the water slightly basic; you can get a stronger effect if you let water pass through the ash, this makes "lye" or alkaline water - but be careful, the stuff is caustic like Drano.
Fourth, take the hide out of the ash-water, and stretch it out again, scraping the hair off, the ash-soaking should have made it come off easily.
Fifth, get half a bucket of vinegar and put it in a new barrel of water, and chuck the hide in there. Same time again, and same stirring.
Sixth, weight the hide down in a stream for a day, or otherwise rinse thoroughly.
Seventh, stretch the hide out, and rub it down with some vegetable oil. You can actually use the rendered fat here if you want to, but the vegetable oil will give it a nicer smell! Rub it down thoroughly down every day or two until you've done it three times.
The hide should now be ready to use for whatever purpose.
Thanks for that JimBob - we get a lot of roadkill wallabies around here. Fresh ones we give to the dogs. I will look out for one without too much hide damage and have a go at tanning it using your method. The leather could be useful and there would be the satisfaction of making something instead of wasting it.
Do you know what the spots on the liver mean?
What was the recipe you used for the casaurina bark?
Spots on the liver - no I didn't ask what they were. If it didn't look healthy I was happy for the butcher to throw it out. The calf was born here and I know he wasn't fed anything bad. There are no weeds that could cause problems here. It might have been nothing but there was a few weeks when I agisted some others Dexter cattle here for a neighbour and at the same time a lady from work gave me her three Dexters as she had to move at short notice. Those others aren't here any more but they could have had some parasites I was unaware of.
Casaurina- I just gathered up some bark from the many casaurina trees we have. Some from dead trees on the ground and some from recently dead trees that are still standing. They get borer. I put the bark in bags soaking in water in a 44. The water is looking quite dark already so it must have plenty of tannin. Its all an experiment and I don't know if it will work or not.
Thanks Look forward to hearing how it goes.
An update on the home kill and hide tanning
We have been eating the meat nearly every day. I have had no problems with it at all. I'm looking at my remaining cattle in a different way now. Yum!
I have decided to kill the bull next so that I don't breed anymore cattle. I'm thinking I'll get about 10 years worth of meat out of the herd and that will do me. I'll be 65 by then and think I will move on from this hobby farm lifestyle after that.
The hide is still soaking in the tanning solution. I'm not really sure what to look for in determining if its done or not.
We have been busy on other ventures too and haven't really thought about it much. A friend at work told me she read in a book that natural tanning such as I am trying can take a long time.
Does anyone know if the meat from a bull is yukky or anything? A neighbour told me I should get my bull cut before slaughter or the meat will be too strong. I'm not sure what he means. Maybe I could curry every meat meal for a year or so lol.
Re: Tanning a hide
I wanted to re-visit this thread to find out how the tanning went????
Re: Tanning a hide
Thanks for the great links 9anda1f. I am anxious to try this (on something small). :wink:
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