Rabbit skins - Tanning
A large percent of the reason I keep rabbits is for their fur. I keep three varieties for this reason. Of course, their meat is wonderful and their urine and poop are important in our garden.
When I harvest rabbits, I make sure the skins are promptly frozen so that I can tan them later. I've been tanning them for 4-5 years now. I process 8 or so at a time and dry a few at a time and work them over, breaking the skins and try to make them soft. I have arthritis in my hands and it hurts, but I can't let this part of these beautiful animals go to waste. I am also looking for a few ideas to use them to possibly make a little money to pay for the feed, etc.
Here's a dilemma I have though. The usual method that people describe as tanning doesn't seem to me to be actual tanning. This is the alum and salt method. After the process, the wet hides, if left to dry without breaking and working them over, would be hard as sinew. Ok, so we break the skins. BUT what happens if they get wet again? They would dry hard. I think truly tanned skins stay soft even if they get wet.
I haven't done my due diligence with soaking a hide I have finished. I will do that this year, however, I wonder what anyone in this community knows about this?? I don't like to use chemicals and alum is about as far as I want to go with it. I wonder if putting mink oil on the soft skins would prevent them from going hard if they were subjected to water again?