She was able to make good time to her cave; she was going to go hunting but with the actions of those men and then the sound of the plane, she changed her mind. She knew she had about a dozen rabbits skins, a nice fluffy squirrel tail, and a couple pieces of doe hide left over from the last deer she had hunted last fall; so she decided to grab those and use them for the sling shot lessons for the other kids. She wasn’t sure if she could teach as well has her grandfather had taught her but decided that she wouldn’t mind at least trying.
The fire she had banked when she left sprang to life with little effort and in no time the cave was warm and cozy. She took her time deciding just what she would take with her. She figured she would be at the farm for many days and she didn’t want to be a burden or use up their precious supplies of anything.
After careful consideration, she had a small pile of food stuffs that she thought they might be able to use: some spices, tea mixes that she had gathered last year for winter colds, coughs, and aches. She also had a five pound bag of salt set in the pile. She had all the tools she would need for the sling making, not that there were many. She would use her grandfather’s knife to cut the pieces and the old hole punch he had given her years ago so she could tie the cords to the stone holder. She also had an oval stone that fit in the palm of her hand that she used to work the leather pieces which would help make it more supple. She would help the girls find similar stones.
The hides she had would be perfect for learning how to cut out slings. After they got the hang of it, she would go hunting and get a fresh deer and show them the fine art of brain tanning. Deer hide worked great for moccasins. She let out a giggle thinking about how they would react when she had them work the brains into the hide. She sure hoped they wouldn’t be so grossed out that they wouldn’t want to learn!
The deer hide was stretched taut on the wooden frame and Poppy was showing me the firm even strokes that worked the hide evenly. Although I thought that using the brains was pretty gross, I had to admit they worked great! We had not let the skin dry completely before we began working the brains into the skin. Poppy says that the more brains you work into the skin, the softer it will be.
He said something about how heat from the friction helped also.
“Poppy, do we work the brains into the fur side also?” I asked.
“No Coon, we just work this side. That shampooing we gave the hide earlier will help the fur. But this is really the best way to fix skins. After we get done with the brains, we will clean it off and then smoke it so bugs won’t bother it and so when it gets wet, we can soften it up again easily. Now keep your strokes even, and don’t push down too hard.”
“Do you think I’ll be ready to do my own hide from the skinnin’ to the wearin’ myself someday?”
“I dare say honey, you’ll be makin’ some fine foot wear before this time next year, I’m thinkin’!”
The steady movement and the good company made the work go fast and it seems like just moments and we were getting the fire going and while we were waiting for the fire to burn down to just a smoky bed of coals, we not only cooked deer steaks for dinner, we also set up the bricks that would hold the frame just above the hot coals, just right so the skin was smoked but didn’t get too hot.
The steaks were delicious and the hide soft and supple when we were done. Poppy let me present it to Granny with much flair and I could tell she thought it wasn’t a half bad job! I don’t think she ever found out we used the bathroom tub to wash the hide in.