Tanning the hid is a big job. This our third hide, so we are getting better at the process every time. I posted some detailed instructions (here and here) when we did the last hide this time last year. The most important thing to get the hide spread out somewhere safe and dry and covered in salt as soon as possible after the animal is skinned. If the hide is dried out sufficiently it will last for months, and we have found that it actually improves as it dries. This hide was in the shed since August, so it was about 5 months, and it was very stiff and dry, which made it easier to work.
In the past we have fleshed the hide using a scraping tool, which took several days and was very hard work. This time Pete used a grinder with a wire brush attachment, and finished the job in 2 hours! I helped by holding the hide taught over a log. My only recommendation is to do this away from the house, as it made a bit of a mess and didn't smell too good for a few days! We had dried using an orbital sander on previous hides and it didn't work because the hide was still too wet, so it is best to wait for the hide to dry completely if you want to use a power tool. I think its good to know that we can do it with hand-tools, and I did quite enjoy the exercise and the time spent talking as we worked the hide last time. The power tool was so much quicker and easier, it would be crazy to go back to the hand tool, but it was a bit sad that we both had ear plugs in and couldn't really talk while we worked.
|this is the mess - dried flesh "snow"|
|the dogs love to help with this sort of activity|
After we finished fleshing we rinsed the hide using the pressure cleaner to remove most of the blood and dirt and then put the hide in a wheelie bin of water and detergent to degrease it. It can be difficult to fold a stiff dry hide into a wheelie bin, but it does soften as it gets wet and then only fills half the bin, so don't give up!