Leg and head skins of moose and reindeer are excellent for clothing that will receive a lot of hard wear. Examples are winter shoes, mittens and leggings.
In preparation for the smoking, the skins are stitched fur side to fur side with a wide stitch. If you want to protect the edges from discolouration, you need to stitch in a piece of skin, paper or birch bark to cover the furry edge. The skins are then hung in a small tipi with a canvas or skin covering it.
The fire should already have burnt down to coals inside the tipi before hanging the skins. Alternatively you can bring in hot embers from the outside and put them on dry ground. Punk wood is sprinkled over the coals for producing smoke and reducing the temperature.
Throughout the process, you have to add more rotten matter to smother any emerging flames or overly hot spots. I monitor the situation with maximum 15 minutes intervals, in the beginning much less.
These skins were smoked for 1,5 hours, but you can smoke them for as short or long time as you want.
I finished my woodshed quite a while ago, but I forgot to post an update. The roof and walls were made of old construction materials to save time. The only thing that is left now is to put birch bark and soil on the roof. As of yet, I’m using plastic tarps.
The walls slant to compensate for that the posts are not completely straight. It gives me a little more space, but the lower edges will be prone to rotting. But this building is not build to last forever, so I’m fine with that.
Traditional in this area is to cut up all the firewood for the year in one go and stack ready made firewood in the shed. What I observed in Mongolia was that they instead stored whole, dry logs and sawed and split wood every day or every few days. I’ve come to prefer this method as I am using a handsaw and don’t want to spend three weeks in spring cutting and splitting wood. In winter there isn’t too much to do anyway as we procure all the meat we need in autumn. This makes me enjoy cutting firewood rather than thinking about it as a chore.
The disadvantage is of course that these whole logs dry very slowly compared to sawn and split ones. So I ringmark living trees that are not suitable for timber and wait for them to die and dry out standing. This can take several years, so I have a lot standing around in various stages and ringmark new trees every time one is cut down. In the meantime the dead trees will provide excellent habitat for woodpeckers and other animals that feed on bark beetles.
The dry logs are also lighter when I bring them to the shed.
Most of the logs for this building project are buried under the snow now, so I’m going to return to it in March or April.
There has been a bit of progress, with the first supporting horizontal logs being attached. Native people seem to generally not drill and peg them, but I borrowed a drill from my father to make the later stages safer to build. I could have mortised, but I didn’t have the tools for doing a good job. I used a generator for the electricity.
The pegs are seasoned to expand rather than shrink as fresh ones would. They were made square so to wedge in tighter. Nails were used to hold the logs in place while drilling.
My brother in law, Rune, was helping me with the process.
Due to renovating the house I’ve decided to build a storage building for my skins. It’s going to be of a log cabin style, used traditionally over most of Siberia as well as north America. For me the main concern isn’t that bears will break in, but to keep the skins off the ground to avoid moisture.
Three of the posts are live trees we cut off standing. The last one was burnt at the base and dug into the ground this autumn.
Today we cut off the posts at the appropriate height and started removing the bark. My brother Auver was helping me.
The plan is to finally get around to making new winter boots this year. To know which size to make them I made a pair of fur socks first.
The socks are made out of sheep skins tanned lightly with bark and subsequently smoked. The skins are a bit small, which makes them a lot more work to make than if I used a whole reindeer hide, but it also allowed me to experiment with patterns for the boots themselves.
There are mainly three pieces to this pattern. The sole, the toe and front, and the heel and leg. Some minor adjustments will probably be made for the next pair I make, but they seem alright and certainly very warm.
This kind of socks are of Evenki, Even and Yakut design and the boots will be as well.