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February 7, 2012 | Animals | OS VINE

Drying the Cowhide

Yesterday I told you about our adventure filled weekend butchering our first steer.  We knew we wanted to try tanning the hide when we bought Hammy. I had read a bit about tanning your own hide but since it looked complicated, I priced having it done professionally. After calling around, I found that I could buy one cheaper than having ours tanned. How hard could it be? After all, people have done it for years. So, being the do-it-yourself types and not wanting to miss an opportunity to provide a learning opportunity, we got started. I am using "we" loosely here because the boys have done all the work! After carefully skinning the cow, the hide was washed to remove all the dirt. Since we finished cleaning the carcass so late Saturday night, we laid it over an outside table to begin drying where it stayed all day Sunday also - because we were busy processing the meat. Monday, the boys began very gently scraping the large chunks of flesh off. The danger here is puncturing the leather. Next, the hide is laid out and a layer of salt spread over and rubbed into it. This presented a problem because of the wind here in west Texas - it kept blowing away! So, we finally rubbed in as much as we could and left it. There really is no covered place which is out of the wind that it could be left. I did not consider the living room an option :)  For now, it is on the north side of the house which normally is not so windy. The hide will remain salted for about 2 weeks until it is thoroughly dried. During this drying period, we will keep a close watch on it and re-salt as needed. Hopefully, by that time, I will find where to purchase the alum solution or whatever we decide to use to complete the process!


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