Before one can make a sheepskin rug (that article is coming up next!), a person needs a sheepskin to work with.
A dear farmer friend (Thanks, Shawna!) told us about her relatives skinning a deer by pulling the hide off.
Basically, the animal’s body is attached to a tree, hide is attached to a rope attached to the bumper of a truck. Truck moves forward pulling hide off deer. Viola – a quick, easy skinning!
We took from her story and created our own slightly modified version to use when processing sheep.
Below are our notes on how to “pull” a hide off a sheep in order to obtain a sheepskin free of cuts.
Cuts in the hide make for difficulties during the processing steps:
- Cuts extend the time for scraping (have to be careful not to enlarge the holes further
- Each cut creates more edges, and edges are more difficult to process (just try it, you’ll know what I mean)
- Opens holes mean that scrapings, salt, etc. all fall into the nice fleece instead of staying on the surface of the skin for easy removal.
- Wool will poke through the holes, on a short stapled fleece, it’s possible you could see the holes from the top depending on size of hole
- Aesthetics – just not as pleasing to the OCD eye (my family has a lot of those people, myself included, that want everything to be in order and look proper. Holes don’t look as neat and tidy).
The purpose of this step is not to show you how to slaughter and cut up a carcass (you can find plenty of places online with great descriptions or come out next time we butcher, we always can use free laborers!)
Rather, the purpose is to explain how to remove a hide without making ANY cuts in the skin.
Trust us, you’ll appreciate taking a bit extra time here to remove the hide once you start in on the scraping step.
Step One: Removal of Hide at time of Slaughter
If you sent your animal to butcher or obtained a hide, skip to part two.
Below are two Picasso-esque drawings illustrating why I did not major in art.
I mean, they show where to cut the skin (not the meat, just the skin) before pulling:
Don’t laugh at my drawings…they are what they are!
Photo of the initial cutting in progress:
After making the proper cuts, tie as shown in the photo below.
Secure the ropes snugly – there’ll be a lot of pressure on those ropes! A tight knot at the base of the tail and on the other rope, a slit can be made in the joint area to thread the rope through for a more secure grasp.
And another view from the side, hide is about half-way off:
Once the hide is pulled, either immediately commence with next step (processing) or prepare for freezing:
- fold in half, skin-side-together
- roll up snugly
- place in plastic bag, push out excess air
- freeze until ready to process.
Do not scrape hide or salt hide before freezing!
A sheepskin is ok to be frozen for several weeks, but should not be left there indefinitely. (One processor recommends no longer than 6 weeks frozen. I’ve gone longer and it’s been alright.)
Next up: Part Two – processing the sheepskin!
p.s. That sheepskin in the photos above later ends up looking like this: