We had to cull one of our wethers recently. He ended up being processed into meat to feed my family.
I really didn't like the idea that the processor was going to just discard the hide with the other unedible parts, so I asked to get that back. I've never tanned any hides before but I did a little research online and so I'm documenting for you how to go about it. Hopefully, in the end it will turn out decent.
when we picked up the skin, I had to salt it down because we were leaving town for a week and I didn't have the time. I basically used Kosher salt because everything I read said not to use rock salt or iodized salt. So I got a few boxes at Sam's Club..
We then rolled up the skin and threw it into a garbage bag which we put in our shop's freezer till we had time to work on it.
After we thawed it out, it was time to flesh out the skin which is basically taking off the extra meat and membranes that may have been left on the skin when the processor worked it up. Normally this would be done with a sharp knife and a skinning blade, but KP found a website that showed a gal using a pressure washer on a deer hide. So he decided to try it out.
It worked AWESOME!!! And didn't take as much time as it would have by hand. Below is a video KP took while he was running the pressure washer.
The next step on the list was gathering the supplies for the tanning solution.(Technically, because we are using alum, this is more of a pickling solution.) There were many different recipes out there on the Internet to try, but we went with one that involved more salt, alum, and sodium bicarbonate ( we used club soda).
I ordered my alum off of Amazon.
Here is the hide after KP finished fleshing it. He just put it in a bucket of water until I got home from work.
We filled a Rubbermaid tub about 1/3 full of water. Then we added the alum, salt and soda. I didn't have exact amounts. Roughly...1/4 of the bag of alum, 1/3 of the box of salt and 1 can club soda...
Stir until it's all dissolved. Then add in the skin.
Make sure you get the skin completely submerged and that there are no air pockets.
It also really helps if you have a super cute helper in the background...it adds to the experience...
Everyday for 7 days, make sure you stir the solution. That means pick up the skin and then re-submerge it making sure there are no air pockets.
Stay tuned for Part 2!