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Rained out and loving it.

June 22nd, 2008

Well, its a another rainy day; which is good, because the streams are pretty low here. But today, I’d planned to finally finish up that hide that I have been carrying around with me. A year ago, I fleshed it out and mostly worked it soft while I was at Rivercane Rendezvous.


I didn’t mess with it again until we were out of our stick and brick home. At that time, I pulled it out of the freezer and finished the softening stage. I couldn’t make a fire to smoke it at that campsite. So, I put the hide back in a bag and stuffed it into outside storage.

Since we are talking about staying in this great campsite until my family gathering at the beginning of the month, I thought it would be a great time to finish the hide. So, yesterday, I gathered up some rotten wood to smoke with, some nice (fallen) trees to make a tripod, and started sewing up the hide. Johnny was so excited about the prospect of not having to smell my brain tanned hide when he opened that compartment anymore that he offered to erect the tripod. Such a nice guy. Thanks hun! Nice work.

Sigh, it wasn’t supposed to rain today. Ok, NWS said a 20% chance, but in Florida that means that its not going to rain.

Its ok. I have plenty of time to smoke it and NWS promises that there wont be any rain next week. In the meantime, its been an enjoyable two days of rain. It is so peaceful sitting under the awning listening to the thunder, rain and the stream. Its absolutely beautiful here. The showers come and go. In between them, the butterflies come out and play in the patches of sunlight. I also love the way the dappled sunlight plays on the wet rocks that line the creek when it makes it’s way past the clouds and leaves.

Finally, the rain forest is living up to its name. I hope it rains tomorrow too.

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5 Responses to “Rained out and loving it.”

  1. Rene says:

    Eeewww! You are hardcore! Dare I ask what kind of hide you’re talking about?

  2. Michael Lockridge says:

    Working leather! I worked in a commercial tannery for a little over seven years. All chrome tan. Never did do the brain tan. I burned off hair, operated a wringer, and did finish work. Pretty cool!

    I found your blog researching full-time rv living. Thanks for sharing the adventure! I am still employed full-time, and only dream of life on the road at this time. However, I am just two years from my target retirement. Bloggers like you help me keep the dream alive.

    I have only just begun reading your back-story. I look forward to reading the rest.

    Thanks again.


  3. jenn says:

    Rene: Its not that bad. The process is very zen. Its a lot of work, but it has an ataractic effect on me. It is a white tailed deer hide. Soon, it will be a steering wheel cover, a quiver, and who knows what else.

    Hi, Michael! Thanks for stopping in.
    I couldn’t even begin to imagine what a large scale leather processing plant would be like. They burn the hair off, huh? I soaked mine in water until the hair came off easily. Then I scraped it off. I bet burning is a lot faster. When the scraping and wringing was all done, I bet your hides had a lot less holes in them as well.

    I gotta ask, after that experience, how much leather do you own?

    I am glad that we can be of some help. Best of luck to you in your planning. Its worth it! Its still pretty new to us, and its getting better every day.

  4. Michael Lockridge says:

    I worked there many years ago. The place closed about ten years ago or so.

    I burned off the hair in big mixers using sodium hydrochloride. Nasty stuff. It had to be neutralized before the chrome tanning. Otherwise there would be poisonous gasses. Sodium sulfhydrate, if I recall correctly. The tanning was done with sulfuric acid, and I seem to recall chromium dioxide. Also a lot of corn syrup. I never really understood the process.

    A deer hide is quite delicate. Cow hides are thick and tough. We did some elk hides through our process, and damaged most of them.

    As you travel, watch for commercial tanneries. There are small scale chrome tanning plants, and other plants working with more natural processes. Your process is more like the old ways, and has the quality of recapturing an element of human history.

    I would sometimes write with dip pens by the light of a candle, just to achieve that same sense of history. Reaching back, being a part of that history.

    I look forward to following your travels.

  5. Michael Lockridge says:

    Now I recall. The sodium sulfhydrate is what we used to burn the hides. That and lots of water. And liquefied lime. It was thirty years ago, and I hadn’t thought on it much in these many years.

    Anyway, if you can find a commercial tannery still running in this country, you might enjoy the tour.

    I think the poisonous gas was hydrogen sulfide. Hmmm. Now I am sounding like a reminiscing old man. “Back in ’82, it was…”

    Have fun on the journey. Thanks again for sharing.

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