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1 Rawhide and Salt on Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:37 pm


Admin / Weyrlingmaster
As part of the Crafter meeting the first evening, H'lee agreed to see what he could do about starting a tannery for the hides they'd gotten from the dragons' kills; the hides would be very useful for shelter, clothing, and tools. At least the crates should make decent tanning vats. He did point out that it would take at least a fortnight before the hides would be ready for anything, and he couldn't promise that the hides would be quality. He got one of the children to go down to the beach and fill a couple of cups with seawater. Then he set them to heat by a fire, which would leave him with salt in fairly short order so he could salt the hides from that day.

While the cups of seawater evaporated, leaving their salt behind, he used a knife to cut strips of one of the blankets to make ties, then a hatchet to make frames to stretch the hides on. The strips of blanket he used to tie the hides to the frames, and then he balanced the frames on crates to keep them away from insects (or at least, hopefully). The hides were laid out with the fuzzy side down, and he rubbed the salt into the raw side.

"These will need to sit for at least a couple days before they'll be ready for more treating," he explained to the Apprentices and some of the other folk who were asking when the hides would be ready.
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Last edited by Kestrana on Sun May 12, 2013 6:04 pm; edited 3 times in total

2 Re: Rawhide and Salt on Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:06 am


Ever since they'd learned a little bit of how to fix and make their own riding straps, A'lo had been pulled off to be a part of the group of apprentices that were learning tanning. He didn't particularly mind, he had still been able to enjoy his vintner craft with K'so, and even find the odd bit of time to sketch something or another. He wasn't a harper, and he tended to keep his artwork hidden for that very reason. He did not WANT to be a harper. Besides, he had at one point been expecting to become a lord holder.. not that THAT was going to happen now.

Either way, he stood with the group of apprentices to learn about what they could do with the hides. He had helped where he could when it came to setting up H'lee's little tanning rack, but he was still half focused on his sister. HE couldn't help it, she and K'then were his only family left.

When he was done with the first little comment, A'lo paused. However, he did walk up to the man. He wasn't sure why, but he suddenly wanted to do more work. "Are we going to try and gather more salt from the water?" he asked, "I mean, right now and then store it so we have it when we need it later without having to wait longer."

3 Re: Rawhide and Salt on Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:01 am


Admin / Weyrlingmaster
H'lee smiled to himself. "Good lad," he said to A'lo. "Unfortunately, we don't have very many spare cups for boiling down the water, and we can't use that clever trick the cooks are using for cooking those roots. And right now, I want to use my cup for something to drink. However, as we turn in for the night, I would like to get as many cups as possible set by the coals to boil dry."

H'lee thought for a moment. "Well, the cooks should appreciate salt, as well, so see if you can get them to donate their cups at night."
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4 Re: Rawhide and Salt on Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:22 am


The bronze-rider listened patiently to H'lee's response, considering the answer. When the man requested that he speak with the cooks, A'lo nodded easily. "Sure. anything else you want me to request, sir?" He asked politely, willing to help out where he could.

5 Re: Rawhide and Salt on Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:39 pm


Admin / Weyrlingmaster
H'lee snorted when A'lo asked if there was anything else he could ask the cooks for. "Well, some rolled grains, some lye, and some bread soda would would fantastic," he added, his voice fair dripping with sarcasm. He sighed. "Sorry, A'lo, I didn't mean to be so harsh. Do ask them if they've encountered anything that will work for those items, though."

One week later . . .

The young weyrlings needed food regularly. So did the human contingent. The dozen hides that had been brought in that first night were not in the best of condition as the dragons had, understandably, been more interested in eating than in preserving hide integrity. On subsequent hunting trips, the dragons were instructed to try to bring back kills with as little damage as possible. It wasn't perfect, but the humans certainly had no way at present for killing the thick-skinned massive beasts.

Each day, the pile of hides grew thicker as H'lee salted them. Finally, the ones from the first night were ready for the next stage of preparation. For this, H'lee got help from several of the older weyrling riders to carry a handful of the crates that had contained blankets several miles north up the beach, well away from the camp, as well as a couple of the smaller ones. Once they were there, H'lee suggested that his helpers should remain. Although they didn't have riding straps, all of them learned the theory behind leather production; it certainly couldn't hurt them to learn the practice.

"We moved up here because this part gets smelly," he explained.

"Smellier than the ones drying back at camp?" someone asked, incredulously.

"Much," H'lee responded dryly. "Alright, fill the smaller crates with seawater and put two crate-fulls of sea water into four of these larger crates." He had them fill the fifth large crate with fresh water (which required a lot more walking upstream). He put the hides in the one with the fresh water while they prepared the other four crates.

In a crate that he had carried himself, he had boiled several packages of ration bars and strained out the breadlike substance, leaving a rather smelly and icky-colored liquid behind.

Once the four crates were filled with salt water, they started a fire and heated rocks, which were then dropped in the salt water to heat it until it was as close to boiling as they could get it. Then H'lee, having explained what the brown liquid was, added equal portions of it to all four crates. Then they stirred the water with long sticks for almost half an hour until the water cooled to lukewarm temperature.

At that point, he very carefully added lye, which was relatively easily produced by burning branches from the flowering trees (which someone suggested were likely fruit trees) and then soaking the ashes in water for several days. He stirred the mixture carefully and told the weyrlings to not let any of the water get on them because the lye would burn.

He then started pulling the hides out of the fresh water; they were no longer brittle-feeling, but were still somewhat stiff. H'lee showed them how to peel off the inner layer of skin that was curling up and set them all to doing that. As they were peeled clear, he himself added them to the crates, three hides per crate.

Once the first crate was empty, they dumped out the water, and then refilled it with fresh water. H'lee set his helpers in rotations to carefully stir the four with hides in them. Meanwhile, he and some of the older weyrlings walked over the ridge and cut some straight lengths of wood. They used the inner skin that had been peeled off the hides, cut into strips, to lash these poles together to form stout frames.

Someone had found chalk, the surrounding limestone of which was the closest thing to bread soda they had. H'lee added a large lump of the otherwise-useless stone to the crate that contained only water. He shooed the weyrlings away from the first crate that they'd filled with hides and used one of the stirring sticks to carefully lift one of the hides out of its soaking solution, which was smelling quite rank. Unfortunately, the hide was larger than he was accustomed to dealing with and he had to get one of the weyrlings to grab a stirring stick and help lift it out. They put it in the clean water and stirred it around for several minutes before pulling it out; then they had to dump that water and refill it again.

While some of the youngsters handled the legwork back and forth to the river to fill with fresh water, H'lee and his assistant draped the hide over a boulder to drain. The process was repeated for each of the eleven remaining hides. Once the hides were no longer dripping, H'lee gave each weyrling a cup containing some of the precious hide oil that was being used on the dragons' hides (something that had been found only a couple of days before). There had been considerable grumbling from the riders about using it on these hides until H'lee pointed out that no one would be flying a-dragonback without their riding straps, and they needed some of the oil to cure the hides to make said straps. Each weyrling had a bit of blanket and was to soak the blanket in the oil and then thoroughly cover the inside of the hide with it until it stopped absorbing the oil.

Having the experience at doing this sort of thing, of course, H'lee finished first. While his helpers continued working, he used strips of the inner skin and a knife to stretch his hide across one of the frames they'd lashed together. Then he checked on the progress of the other hides and helped get them finished and stretched across the frames as well.

With that done, he had yet to dispose of the acidic tanning solution. He instructed everyone to get upwind of the crates and tossed lumps of the limestone in. The solution frothed, though not as excessively as he'd hoped, and was shortly relatively safe for disposal. He wanted to dig a hole to pour the waste into, but digging wasn't particularly feasible with the tools they had - or rather, the lack thereof. So he had the crates tipped over where they were to drain and dry.

"Leave the crates where they are. We'll be back in about five days to do another dozen, and there's no sense lugging those things back and forth. They're practically useless for anything else now, anyway. DON'T--" he barked as one weyrling started to stick his hand inside, "touch the insides. You'll burn yourself."

Then he got everyone to help carry the stretched out racks of hides back to camp. They hung them in the trees using strips of blankets as sturdy ties.

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6 Re: Rawhide and Salt on Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:13 am


A'lo, naturally, was amongst those who had participated in the help. Being as he was an apprentice tanner (along with the rest of his skill set since he had decided to speak with the master carpenter about helping where he could there as well as working on his vintnering with K'so), A'lo could see no reason why he shouldn't be present and learning everything he could to help out. After all, he had a bronze and that meant that he had to try to be a leader... even if it meant learning the necessary tasks first.

He followed the various instructions that H'lee gave, including filling crates with seawater. When they finally finished the process of getting the hides ready, and A'lo had done his portion of helping to oil the hides... all while listening to Rik complain about the fact that his hide was still itchy and could use that oil...

Once they were done and the stuff disposed of, A'lo helped with carrying the hides back to camp and hang them in trees.

7 Re: Rawhide and Salt on Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:57 am


Admin / Weyrlingmaster
H'lee repeated the tanning process every other day. The Fort and Xanadu weyrlings still required food every day and even the older dragons were eating every other day when they had been eating every 3-4 days. That was producing a lot of hides. At first, H'lee had considered trying to tan hides every day, but there were enough other tanners to help out that they were able to do all the hides every other day. That then left them free to help with other tasks around the camp on the off days.

It took nearly a week for the first of the hides to dry. While they were waiting on them to dry, the tanners had been searching for something to make a nice, stiff-bristled brush. They hadn't found anything yet by the time the first hides were ready, so they ended up making a sort of brush by twining together some stiff flower stems into a sort of miniature broom.

Once the hides were dry, H'lee instructed his helpers to take them off the racks and take one of the brushes and "buffing" the inside of the hide. The process involved a lot of short, firm strokes and not a few broken brushes, but they ended up with something like poor-quality suede on the inside. The outside of the hides had short, bristly fur, which had been considered as use for brushes, but the fur curled too much to be useful.

With the first dozen hides ready for use, such as they were, the bidding wars began over who got first dibs on them. The dragonriders, of course, wanted the hides to make riding straps. The Harpers, the Lord Holder, the Wardens, and the Stewards wanted them for writing on. Fortunately, they were no longer in very high demand for building homes since it had been determined that the reeds made a decent thatching and someone had reinvented cob construction for the walls. However, plenty of folk wanted a few strips of hide to use as ties and full or partial hides to use as covers for windows (for which the Glassmiths had yet to produce viable panes).

The Master Tanners took this opportunity to bring home a lesson in quality to their Journeymen and Apprentices. "Examine the hides and rate their quality on a scale of 1 to 10," they instructed.
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