Thursday, 21 June 2012

What The Flock?

One day, we got talking to a local farmer who was bemoaning the fact that sheep's skins are practically worthless.  No one wanted to buy them from him so he ended up burning them - a sorry waste of a wonderful natural rescource.  Bob, whose thoughts at the time were being filtered through the green, green glass of several empty heineken bottles, started thinking that we could do with some nice sheepskin rugs for the shepherd's hut and, undeterred by the unknown complications of the tanning process, arranged to take ownership of the fleeces once these poor beasts had been slaughtered. 

Off Bob went to collect his grisly cargo of six sheepskins.  On his return, I was alarmed to see that there heads were still attached.  Apparently that was fine though, because he also had in mind some kind of sheep skull sculpture!  Some internet research had revealed to him the rudimentary basics of tanning and despite the freezing temps outside he set about Step 1, the arduous task of scraping the skin of all visible fat.  This proved to be a longer and more laborious job than first imagined.  I then discovered that Step 2 was to 'just pop the (stinking, daggy, muddy) thing into the washing machine on a wool cycle' and so, sadly, as you may imagine, an impasse between us was reached. 

The skin hung around for a few weeks while other options were explored.  I asked in the local pharmacy for some 'Alum' but left empty handed after being given the looks they reserve for would-be terrorists popping in for large quantities of peroxide.  Meanwhile the sheepheads were strung up in the woods so that nature could take it's course and remove the skin and stuff.  A high jumping/pole-vaulting fox must have carried a couple off, but the rest remained for quite some time - I had to keep reassuring cabin guests that they had not stumbled across some dark satanic ritual. 

Its a shame, we never did get around to finishing our sheepskins - bits of them are still floating around in our garden - the birdies take tufts of it home for their nests. Oh, but the skulls have come up nicely and are awaiting glorification!

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