Blogs

Write new blog
Floraposte

Organically tanned sheepskins

by Floraposte published on

We woke this morning to a beautiful frosty morning, the sky was clear, but the temperature bitterly cold- an appropriate day to post about sheepskin rugs!

We keep a small flock of Jacob sheep here at Dale Cottage. Jacobs are a great smallholders sheep, they are an attractive breed, with their brown and white spotted fleeces and handsome horns. They are a hardy breed which can overwinter and lamb outdoors, they lamb without fuss, needing minimal attention from humans. They produce excellent quality, flavoursome meat and their wool is much sought after for spinning and woolcrafts. Jacobs originate from the mediterranean, but have been in England since the 1700's.

Our ewes lambed back in March this year and in September we decided it was time for the ram lambs to go off to the abattoir. It's always a sad choice to make, but we have to remember why we keep sheep in the first place and with respect for the animal, we feel it is important to use every part that we can. This year we were really pleased to find out about a local business which tans sheepskins organically. Organic Sheepskins are based near Hereford and are the UK's only organic tannery. The tanning process is entirely natural, using vegetable tannins, no toxic chemicals and no pollution (the tannery has its own reedbed system to process waste water). It is situated on a farm and the owner Nicki, began tanning back in the late 70's. By trial and error, she developed a totally environmentally friendly process and in 1996 she set up the Organic Sheepskin company. Her naturally tanned sheep and goat skins are very much sought after, especially by people with sensitive skin and for babies.

We informed the abattoir in advance that we wanted the skins and sorted out the relevant paperwork- you need a transport certificate from DEFRA. We brought the skins back home and with instruction from Nicki, we began the process of curing them in readiness for tanning. Each skin was laid flat, wool side down and we spread a thick layer of salt over the skin surface, which we then covered with paper sacking. After a week we shook off the salt and added a fresh layer (salting draws moisture from the skin and prevents putrefaction) a few weeks later, the skins were ready for Nicki to begin tanning. This natural tanning process is much slower than modern chemical methods, but it was well worth the wait! Yesterday Mr Poste arrived home with a package containing four beautiful sheepskins, they are most wonderfully soft and luxuriant, you could happily curl up on them and sleep for days!

It really is a great feeling that after a meal of our own home-grown lamb, we can recline decadently in front of the wood burner on our own home-grown sheepskins- does life get any better than that?

3 replies
Replied on

I didn't see any there, but it would be worth giving her a call to ask.

Replied on

Thanks for that. Hereford is just round the corner from me and we have been looking for somewhere to do our fleeces. Will contact them

Replied on

Very nice,does the lady also do cattle hides?

To leave a response to the post you will need to be a registered user. Sign-up here or Login here
@rivercottage
  • RT @TinaTinaMay: @rivercottage I was made to eat that terrible mash made out of powder as a kid...why, when I could have had proper yummy b…
  • Any more for #21 of #cookeveryday? We're asking for food you were made to eat as a kid, lots of good answers so far! link
  • RT @GelfAlderson: @rivercottage was brought up as a vegetarian, rice flan always stuck with me, it summed up vegetarian cookery at its wors…
  • RT @HappyDaysNo1: @rivercottage I was made to eat liver and bacon casserole. I appreciate it now but wasn't such a fan as a kid. #cookevery…
  • RT @beckybeasley: @rivercottage lentil loaf, me and sis used to sneak it to the dog. #cookeveryday
  • RT @Bentholyptus: @rivercottage #everything. if I didn't eat everything on plate I couldn't leave dinner table. Suprised I'm not 20st #cook…
  • @NickKillingback Hmm, tricky. Let's ask @johnmushroom... #mushrooming
  • RT @allybag1: Gristle!!! Every bit of meat! Had to stay at the table till it was all gone ! Don't eat meat now ! #cookeveryday
  • RT @roryos31: @rivercottage #cookeveryday .My dad a chef loved making us eat all sorts -heart, pigs head , pigs feet etc.Not left leave ta…
  • It's time for #21 of #cookeveryday. What were you made to eat as a kid? Go! link
  • RT @AnnaPitt: @rivercottage fave autumn treat: bonfire, mulled wine, pumpkin soup and the glow of pumpkin lanterns #cookeveryday
  • @jonnytbonewils over to @lambposts...
  • WATCH: Make your own traditional apple and blackberry fruit leather with @thepamthejam link #cookeveryday
  • RT @Alpro_UK: We’re whipping up our hazelnut orange custard @RiverCottage – it's one of our fave autumn treats! #cookeveryday link
  • RT @plymouthcanteen: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a new Head Chef here at the Plymouth Canteen link
  • RT @thetimes: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on how his mum taught him to bake, only in today's @thetimes (@rivercottage) link
  • RT @comeconella: @rivercottage all things butternut! #cookeveryday
  • @JayAllen33 @RiverCottageHQ good question! Let's ask @lambposts...
  • RT @CoopFayB: @rivercottage blackberry & apple crumble. Perfect from the picking through to the eating. #cookeveryday
  • RT @renc_g: @rivercottage My fave autumn treat? It's spring in Oz, so I'm gonna say rhubarb!! #cookeveryday
  • RT @violetpsyche: @rivercottage My favourite autumn treat: has to be treacle toffee. #cookeveryday
  • Happy Monday all! #20 on #cookeveryday is favourite autumn treats (edible or otherwise) - let's hear them now... link
  • RT @violetpsyche: @rivercottage Veg I grow in my garden: None this year. I grow fruit and want to grow more veg, if slugs will let me! #coo…
  • RT @truss_abbie: @rivercottage #cookeveryday grow veg on my allotment but in the garden is fennel...lots of other herbs and wild garlic in …
  • #19 for #cookeveryday is all about veg. What do you grow in your garden? #growyourown link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: . @rivercottage we love ALL cheese, especially that made by @tomthecheese on our course! link #cooker…
  • RT @lisa_spelling: @rivercottage all of them!! But especially Waterloo and stinking bishop and sharpham rustic with a large glass of port! …
  • RT @renc_g: @rivercottage Cheese of choice? Too hard! I love them all! Something French, creamy & smelly... Mmm... #cookeveryday
  • Morning #cookeveryday fans! Time for #18, what's your favourite cheese? link
  • Hugh helped raise money for #StandUpToCancer with @starservice! Can you help too? link
  • RT @rose_rambles: @rivercottage My family's favourite cake to make & eat: vanilla sponge filled with cream & sliced pear #cookeveryday http…
  • RT @whitstabob: @rivercottage it's presently Lemon, lavender and almond because it's the only edible one I've ever made! link
  • #17 for #cookeveryday: what's your favourite cake to make / eat? Go! link
  • Hungry? Find high welfare meat retailers near you link @PigBusiness link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Come together to toast the #festive period with a seasonal aperitif & a roaring log fire in our yurt. Book now! http://…
  • RT @johnmushroom: @rivercottage #cookeveryday. Not yet mastered? Pastry. But how hard can it be? River Cottage Handbook needed, I think.
  • Keep your #cookeveryday answers coming - what cookery course would you like to do? What skill have you yet to master? link
  • Vote with your wallet. Watch @PigBusiness’ 3-minute video and sign the #PigPledge link
  • Today's #cookeveryday is: what's your ideal cookery course? What would you most like to learn? #cookeryschool
  • The new 3 minute #PigPledge video reveals the true cost of cheap pork - watch, share and sign! link
  • RT @BloomsburyCooks: Fantastic day today spent down in the farm @rivercottage - we got to ride on a tractor?! WINNING link
  • Keep your favourite chefs coming in - and remember to tag with #cookeveryday. Lots of love for @jamieoliver @rick_stein @Ottolenghi, Hugh...
  • RT @Lanzy_88: @rivercottage fav chefs wud have to be Hugh and the Hairy Bikers #cookeveryday
  • @hugo_harrison Assume you've seen Hugh's new one, #lightandeasy? It's packed with #wheatfree and #dairyfree recipes: link
  • RT @WinCanteen: Who's coming to meet Hugh tomorrow? He will be here at 10.30am to meet guests and sign his new book @rivercottage
  • RT @renc_g: @rivercottage My fave chef/cook..? I do love Hugh and @jamieoliver too. Keep fighting your good fights boys! #cookeveryday
  • RT @plymouthcanteen: The amazing talent Elise Yuill will be playing on Weds 15 October, come and enjoy beautiful music while you dine. http…
  • RT @ddtcm: @rivercottage #cookeveryday Keith Floyd. Full of enthusiasm and an inspiration. He was a legend.
  • RT @HappyDaysNo1: @rivercottage My favourite chefs are @jamieoliver @Rick_Stein & Hugh. 'Three Good Things'! #cookeveryday
  • RT @ar_weston: @rivercottage #cookeveryday My mom had never put a bad plate in front of me. :-)
Login or Sign-up

Login & Sign-up

Forgotten your password? Retrieve it here
Or connect via Facebook
Connect with Facebook
Join River Cottage
Close
Shopping basket: 0 items £0.00