Even at 4am this morning, when I left the house to start the diesel truck, I could tell it was warm out. By warm I mean in the teens. On Jan 2, almost a week ago, I had followed the same routine. I let the truck warm up for ½ hour then drove off at 4:30am with a lamb in the trailer headed for the processor. Minutes from the farm the truck stalled four times with gelled fuel and clogged fuel filters; I never made it to the processor.
Replaced fuel filters and warmer weather made my attempt to get to the butcher, this time with four lambs, four pigs, and farmer friend, Nancy (who rode in the truck with me), successful. We arrived at the processor at 7am and because I wanted the lamb hides we waited for the sheep to be processed. Three and ½ hours later the hides were ready and we headed home.
Besides sheep hides, we have also saved cow hides. Several years ago we sent off two Scottish Highlander hides, a white hide, and a black hide, to be chemically processed. When we got them back we used the white hide for a blanket but the darn thing was so hot we couldn't sleep under it.
Those first hides were chemically processed but the best way to tan a hide is with animal brains. A year ago a friend tanned another Scottish Highlander hide this way. After cleaning the hide and stretching it on a frame, he rubbed the hide with brain matter and let it dry. When he cut it off the frame it was just as soft and furry as the hides we had chemically processed.
Definitely the best way to tan any hide is the natural way, without chemicals. With more frigid weather on its way, sleeping under a toasty, naturally tanned hide just might be the thing.