There are three weeks left before I head out to Lynx Vilden’s prehistoric immersion program. I delved into a few deer hides this week and started “bucking” them. This involves soaking the hides in an alkaline solution. I bought a bag of hydrated lime from the local hardware store. I didn’t want to use lye because of the toxic quality and I don’t have time to burn/gather enough wood ash. After braining another hide and having it come out stiff again, I’m getting pretty frustrated. I staggered bucking the hides over a couple days so they would be ready one after the other. I did not anticipate how hard it would be to scrape the grain off the hide. The weather has been ridiculously hot and in spite of chugging water all day, my sore throat from a week ago came back and put me out for a couple days. At this point I have one stiff hide that needs to be dressed and stretched again and one that is ready to be acidified or just dressed and then stretched. There are three more hides bucking right now. I need to scrape them before they soak in the alkaline solution for too long. My hands are covered in blisters from too much drawknife pressure. Tomorrow I will wrap them up before graining the next hide.
In “Deerskins Into Buckskins” Matt Richards says that when done bucking the hide will appear brown and tawny. While the hide was bloated and rubbery (as apposed to stretchy) it was bluish white. I let it sit for longer than I thought I needed to for this reason. After a couple days in the heat, it still looked bluish white. So I threw it on the fleshing beam anyway. After scraping a bit of the grain away, the placed I scraped were brown and tawny as he described. Tomorrow I’ll be able to compare a scraped and rinsed hide with a bloated bucked hide and note the differences for future reference.
I don’t really know what I would do without five gallon buckets. I’d like to know what the primitive equivolent is.
All five raccoon hides are in the hemlock bark solution. I’m realizing now that I need to make sure that the oils are out of the hides before I tan them. I thought most of the oils were out of them, but one in particular I knew it was full of oil. I kind of wanted to see what would happen to the hide, how it would take the tannins. Well, of course, it didn’t. I also noticed a few of the hides had whitish blue spots on them where the tannins were not absorbing. The rest were a light reddish brown. I took all five hides out and put them on the fleshing beam. I used the dull draw knife to squeegee out the oils. I put them back in and an hour later checked and they were already sucking up the tannins really nicely. Tomorrow I make another batch of stronger tea and squeegee the hides some more.
My girlfriend came over and mentioned a video about Lynx’s program that I hadn’t seen before. I thought it would be cool to share the videos here for you to see. They are very inspirational and are making me feel more and more excited about it. It’s also making me more and more nervous that I may not be ready with all the hides by the time I head up there.
Preparation Week 2 Laundry List:
- Find 10lbs of raw wool for felting
- Grain 3 hides/Rinse 3 hides/Membrane 3 hides
- Acidify 2 hides, dress 2 hides, freeze the other 2
- Start bucking last two hides
- Make stronger batch of hemlock tannins, squeegee hides again
- Foraging (garlic mustard, etc.)
- Coastal foraging trip
- Trade for Meat (Some elk meat acquired)
- Rinse and soften bark-tanned mystery hide for canteen
- Process beach clay
- Write a blog about concerns for the project