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Wings and Things

With our second warm day in a row since last October, I decided to get out and tackle something I've been putting off since last summer, the chest freezer in the garage. For two years, peopel have been giving me bird wings and deer hides and turtle shells and stuff which I clean up, tan and whatever to make all manner of native crafts as well as trade to otehr native folks. I had been putting all of them in our big chest freezer in the garage until I had time to get to them. So last summer Dad is visiting and decides to do some cleaning in the garage. He sees that I have the freezer plugged into and extension cord which reaches the main power supply. He decides it would be better if it was plugged directly into the wall plug behind the freezer.

What he failed to realize was the power to that plug is controled by the main light switch so when he finished for the day, he shut off the lights and closed the garage door effectively turning the garage into an oven since it was in July and the temps were 105 in the day and 80 at night with 90% humidity. Then he went back to NC and never bothered to tell me he'd changed the plug location. Well, I found out about two weeks later when working in the garage and noticing the light on the freezer was not on. I then made the mistake of opening up the freezer to see how long it had been off for.

The only good thing about that was since the freezer was closed up, no flies could get in and thus no maggots. The smell was absolutely putrid. If anyone has ever come upon a dead and bloated animal in the woods on a summer day, you know the smell. Now imagine 15 deer hides with meat still attached rotting for two weeks in a heated and enclosed space. I've not smelled something that bad since a possum fell down my uncle's well and drowned in August one year. I immediately plugged the freezer back in and shut it up. From time time this winter, I opened the freezer to see how bad the smell was. It wasn't gone but it wasn't as bad.

So I decided today was the day to clean the freezer. To my great surprise I only lost a couple of the birds. They were both ringneck pheasants and they were rotted enough I couldn't even salvage the little fluffy feathers. Now the deer hides were a differnt story. Out of 9 hides, 6 were completely unusable which makes me sad but it's better than all of them being ruined. I dumped the birds already and the coyotes are probably having a feast. I think I'll need to burn the bad hides so no animals get sick trying to chew on them.

I did manage to pull out a ton of turkey tail feathers, really long ones too. Those will go for trade and to make Dream Catchers. I got all sorts of long wing feathers as well and the long pheasant tail feathers. The birds probably did better because there was almost no meat on them. I got lots of nice long black Canada goose feathers too. I left several of the wings and tails intack and I think I'll contact the local native dancers group to see if they can use them. I've got more than I'll need for awhile and I can always get more. If anyone out there needs some feathers, please let me know. I've got some really beautiful ones to share. It will take me about a week to get them cleaned up and ready but they are free for the asking.

I also managed to save all the snapping turtle shells so I have 13 now which is a good lot to have as they do well for trading.

I unplugged the freezer once I got it cleaned out. I filled it halfway up with water and a whole jug of Clorox. That took care of most of the stench but I'll still have to put several boxes of Baking Soda in when I get ready to put things back in.

The worst part now is the smell lingering on my hands. I don't care how many times you wash your hands or what you use, that smell lingers for awhile. I tried mechanics soap, I tried Lava soap. I tried Gunk, I showered. I tried lemon juice and while not as strong, there is still a faint lingering odor which is disturbing. I may have to burn my clothes.

So tomorrow it will be time to wash it down once more and let it dry and try to start over. What a fun way to spend the weekend. I did get in to Dairy Queen tonight for a Pecan Praline Sundae so the day was not a total stink fest. Thank Spirit for cheap, soft serve ice cream.




( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 16th, 2003 02:22 am (UTC)
ewww stinky
Tomato juice gets out skunk smell. Dunno if it would help with that.

Can't imagine how strong your stomach must be to have managed to have salvaged ANYTHING in that freezer. I probably would have wanted to throw it out, freezer and all. LoL.

And Hey, I would looooooove some feathers. There seems to be a shortage of nice feathers out here... and I went to the online leather store and they didn't have what I am looking for, but I haven't called around locally yet.

I think I read something though, about white suede or white leather only being used for special circumstances. Do you know anything about that? Because I was going to make hair ornaments out of white suede and wasn't sure if that would be wrong. I mean - it is possible it varies from tribe to tribe.

DO people make the shells into rattles and purses? I remember seeing tortoise shell purses at this last powwow. Thought they were kinda nifty - but wasn't sure I'd actually feel comfortable carrying one around. Hehehe...
Mar. 16th, 2003 10:14 am (UTC)
Re: ewww stinky
I think the white leather thing differs from people to people. There were certain regions where it was not used but that may have been because it eithr wasn't available or it wasn't known how to do. In some societies, white is used by holy people only. I'd ask some of your own people if there is any taboo against using it.I'll get you som feathers as soon as I get them cleaned up. As long as I don't run out by Fall hunting season, I will always have a supply of turkey, goose, duck, pheasant and dove. Sometimes I'll find a dead songbird in the woods and use them too. If you lived closer I could gift you with owl or hawk feathers but I won't send them through the mail as they are illegal in some states. I 'll give the tomatoes juice a try. I'd not thought of that though it worked when I got sprayed by a skunk in Colorado once.

Give me a week or so to get the feathers cleaned up and I'll send you some.

Mar. 16th, 2003 03:48 am (UTC)
Did you try the skunk-odor removal trick of tomato juice... or is that just a legand with no merit?
Mar. 16th, 2003 10:16 am (UTC)
No, it works. I've got personal experience with that. I just didn't think of it. I may try it tonight after I go round two with the freezer.


Mar. 16th, 2003 07:44 am (UTC)
Yeah, dead smell is the hardest smell to get out. You can try the stainless steel trick, though, it works for fish smell, so it might work on your hands, though I am dubious about the clothes. You should try that Febreez clothing stuff for those and wash them separate.

For the stainless steel, take a piece of it and wash your hands under running water with it like a bar of soap. You can rub your hands on the faucet if it's stainless.
Mar. 16th, 2003 10:17 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'll try the stainless steel trick and let you know. I wonder why that works. Need some feathers?

Mar. 16th, 2003 01:26 pm (UTC)
Have you tried borax on the feathers for the scent? I know it is supposed to get rid of the mites. You sprinkle them down and leave them a few days, then shake it out.

I had better wait on feathers for now; we are strongly considering moving this summer, and if we do I want my 'perishables' to be few. But I'll let you know, definitely. I've still got a few projects (including making a drum beater and that talking stick) I need to finish.

Mar. 16th, 2003 05:59 pm (UTC)
Borax is wqhat I always use for feathers. Works great for smells too.

Mar. 16th, 2003 01:02 pm (UTC)
Ew, that sounds nasty. I agree, you must have a strong stomach to be able to handle that. I hate just cleaning out the cat box.
Hmm. It's been awhile since I've made a dreamcatcher. The nicest one I ever made I of course gave to my stupid exboyfriend for his birthday. Although, he did seem rather proud that I'd made it for him. Not really authentic though. I still have some of the artificial sinew left...I haven't looked very hard to find good feathers or beads. Craft store selections is all I've looked at, and not in awhile.
Mar. 16th, 2003 02:05 pm (UTC)
My art teacher sister gave me one she made at Cookie Scout camp one year. No feathers, but it does have a nice black-lined blue plastic bead in the center. A feathery one would risk becoming a cat toy.
Mar. 16th, 2003 05:58 pm (UTC)
Just ask if you need some

Mar. 17th, 2003 07:21 am (UTC)
I used to make them a good bit, and still have a few of the supplies around. But, like you, I never used real feathers...and the beads and sinew were always from craft stores...

It might be fun to make another some day...
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


Wander aka StoneBear
Bear Dancer Studios

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