My dog inspired me to make home made dog toys. Which led me to traditional tanning furs.
I’ve been making dog toys for a little under a year. They are very popular on my Etsy page! But I also sell them on here too I was inspired by my own dog and me wanting to give my dog something a little more natural. Then it got me thinking. I fell down the tanning rabbit hole. I was buying furs from someone, who did not even know where she got the furs from. I could not get an answer from anyone on how these furs were made. My only option in my mind is “I have to tan them myself” and “I must know where the furs come from!”
After hours of research reading a variety of texts from homesteaders, hunters and indigenous teachers, I figured the best tanning option for dogs is the brain tan method.
For the brain tan method, You flesh the furs, wash the furs, let dry slightly but not all the way. Then you add what is called the dressing. Which is either brain, egg yolk or another kind of fat. You let sit until it absorbs into the skin. Once absorbed, you stretch the furs until dried. The next step is to smoke them, which helps the furs not turn back into rawhides when they get wet.
After learning a lot and feeling confident, this is what I did
I contacted every rabbit farmer in my state. I found one way up north in the beautiful mountains. We talked back and fourth and I went to meet her. She takes amazing care of her rabbits. I even got to pat them. She had a pile of furs to sell me already. You can check out her website here. She calls her rabbit farm the “Honey Bunny Homestead”.
After I picked up my piles of furs. I went straight to work. I dug a hole for smoking. I then spent a day making sure my first couple furs were fleshed and washed well. I applied the dressing and let sit over night. The next day I spent the whole day stretching. What a workout! It really works your arm/shoulder muscles. I stretched them until dried. I started around 11am and finished around 4pm. After 4pm I would check them every hour, give them a good could stretches.
The next step I had to do was smoke them. I set aside another day to smoke them. Made sure my rack was good to go. I made the rack out of sticks. I took a basket backpack I have, fetched some punky wood (which is just rotting wood) and gathered some good dried sticks. I made a stick fire in my hole, let it burn up and build some embers. Then I added the punky woods. Got it smoking well and added my rabbit furs! I put wool blankets over the furs so the smoke will stay under them longer. I let them smoke for about an hour.
My next step after smoking is to just hang them up and air them out a bit. They have a smoky campfire smell. After airing them the smell is not as strong and to me a little pleasant.
After all these steps I’m now ready to cut, sew and sell! Oh and I will definitely be keeping some for my own dogs 😉
There is something truly magical about the mountains.
Every time I encounter a mountain or even a hill I feel a sense of well-being and uplifting energy. Even when I’m in the worst of moods and I encounter a mountain, all my feelings disperse and vanish before the beauty.
It is a wonderful thing that I’ve found such healing in the simplicity of looking at a mountain.
Something even more healing to me is taking a photo. I just love taking photos. I feel inspired, happy, calm and excited all at the same time. My anxiety turns into excitement, my sorrows turn into smiles, my heart softens and melts to the mountains.
I can’t speak for everyone’s experiences. I have memories of not always feeling this way about the mountains. It came to me over time. It really started after college. I went to school for cinematography. All my short films I made happened to be at my local mountains in my home town. After seeing my projects come together I felt fulfillment.
I also got into painting during this time. I used oil paintings and would look at my photographs of mountains then paint them on canvas with oil paint. The movements of the peaks and the imperfections, yet they seemed perfect to me usually brought me calm feelings.
Then, I got my dog and I really started to climb these mountains. Walking with my dog through the mountains gave me time for reflection. I felt all kinds of feels and noticed I released a lot of pain and emotions to the mountains.
My hope in you reading this is that I hope you can find what moves you. What makes you smile and what you find healing. I feel so empowered that I can release my emotions in a healthy way to the mountains.
Really pay attention to when you feel happy. Notice what kind of situation you are in, what you are doing, your surroundings and really acknowledge them. Once you figure out what makes you tick, you gain a lot of control and power to your life.
Try walking in the woods, hills or mountains and see how you feel. Find a view and photograph them. I can’t be the only one who feels so good about mountains and rolling hills. I suggest trying it out for yourself. If you live in flat lands, walk through a field or forest or even the desert and see how you feel.
It seems that we’re always looking for things outside of ourselves to make us feel better and a lot of times we forget this earth is here all the time to help us better ourselves. We just need a few tools or just our feet to embrace the ecotherapy this world can give us.
Below are some activities I really enjoy. If I’m ever feeling the winter blues, bored have some cabin fever or any kind of negative energy I keep myself motivated and moving using the land we all share. I do these activities no matter how I’m feeling, through the positives and negatives life throws us.
This is a personal experience post and I hope you can relate or want to try some of these yourself!
Skiing and snowboarding
If you live in an area with a mountain, I highly suggest skiing or snowboarding. Seriously, I absolutely love skiing. My boyfriend loves snowboarding.
There is just something about gravity pulling you down a mountain. Its challenging and refreshing at the same time. The wind in your face is a wonderful ecotherapy and your also getting a full body workout at the same time.
The interesting part about this sport is how you can be relaxed while drifting down the mountain but getting a workout at the same time. So if you’re a little lazy you can delazify yourself (I made that word up, read it really really slow).
Don’t get me wrong it is totally challenging but you’re still floating on a board or skies and just steering with your legs. Its amazing.
Dont forget the scenery! You get mountain views and forest scenery for some wonderful ecotherapy.
The best way to bring your little kid self back is finding a hill or two and sending it on a sled.
i talked about in another post dressing up in a full body retro snow suit when you go out on your sledding quest.
You have to really get into this sport to feel the full ecotherapy effect. I also highly recommend wearing a helmet for safety since this is an extreme sport.
If you live somewhere in the snow, snowman building will bring you a smile and a challenge.
It honestly kind of blows my mind how the snow can collect and build awesome things. It has to be the perfect snow, nice and sticky. So you can’t always up and build a snowman, but if you have that special day with sticky snow,challenge yourself to make the biggest, most detailed snowman ever.
Snow sculptures, forts, walls or igloos
After you get a bunch of snow and you have to shovel yourself out of your own home you can have a little fun with it.
Shovel all the snow in a giant, tall pile. You may have to wait for the weather to warm up so will have nice sticky snow.
Then get creative and make something. I like using mittens so I can make details with my hands while its warm. Again I like to wear my full body suit so I can get down and dirty in the snow.
The easiest thing to make and most fun for all in my opinion is making walls around a fire pit. It keeps your mind stimulated and focused, you’re getting exercise and in the end your rewarded with an awesome fort that will last until the snow melts.
A more challenging ecotherapy exercise would be fat biking. If you like mountain biking i bet you’ll like fat biking and if you’ve never tried either I think you should give it a shot just because of how fun it is.
There are many groomed trails around for fat biking. There’s actually a pretty big fat bike culture so when you get out on some trails you may even meet new friends.
Fat biking gives you a challenge, gets your body moving and gives you visual, mental and physical stimulation. If I’m feeling down in the winter months and i pull myself together enough to get on some trails I feel like a brand new person ready to take on anything.
Snow shoeing and hiking
If you’re low-key and want simple ecotherapy but there’s too much snow, grab yourself some snowshoes and hit up your local nature and hiking trails! Bring a friend, your dog, your camera or just go by yourself. (always tell someone before hiking)
Snowshoeing is totally different from normal hiking its a little more challenging a little more exercising but that’s what makes it so wonderful. It’ll take your focus away from the winter blues and help you to appreciate this amazing earth we call home.
When your moving in the cold your body will warm up fast and you’ll forget the cold and feel better.
This can be included in any activity above. Its my all time favorite ecotherapy activity in any season.
You can use any camera from your phone to a point and shoot to a dslr. My personal favorite is a point and shoot . Its light weight, you can keep your gloves or mittens on when you turn the camera on and hit the shutter button so your hands don’t get cold. I noticed my battery lasts longer in a point and shoot in colder months.
You could get into your car, drive to a scenic lookout if it’s too cold and shoot outside and still enjoy the day in some warmth but out of the house.
Snowflake catching and photographing
On a snow day you can have some fun
If you have a good camera like a dslr, some phones and point and shoots that can handle macro mode.
You can use black fabric like a hat mitten or sweater or use black construction paper. Leave the paper or fabric outside for a half hour or more so it’s at the same temperature as outside. Once its cold catch some snowflakes on the fabric, don’t overload it just a little bit, then get under a roof that is still cold and outside and use your camera’s macro mode and take photos of the snow! It’s an amazing little activity. You get to see how beautiful and unique snow is. It’s kind of mind-blowing!!
Star gazing or cloud watching
Last but not least. The cold winter months seems to make the stars brighter. Sometimes if we’re lucky we will get a night of meteor showers or the aurora .
my boyfriend and I have a slider door facing an open field. One night we put down some pillows and blankets on the floor and watched the stars until our eyes got heavy and we fell asleep.
The next day I felt so good. It just is a great feeling falling asleep to the sight of stars. Another time my brother had a pickup truck and after a couple of hours of night sledding we made a snow bed in the bed of his pickup truck and we had a group of friends and we all packed ourselves in the back of the truck and gazed at the stars for a few hours until we were cold. We shared stories and laughter all while looking at the amazing universe. It’s so simple and great therapy. If the stars are covered by clouds it’s still just as much fun to watch.
Those are just some of my favorite ecotherapy activities. Hope you enjoyed reading these activities and hope you go out to the woods to enjoy this world we live in.
Leave us a comment and tell us some stories about your ecotherapy activities. Thank you for reading!
Try these exercises if you have any kind of low energy. You can also just do this for your well being. You can do them all together, mix them up, play around with them.
Just take these as ideas. We are not certified or associated with Ecotherapy in any professional way. We just believe in it.
One of the best ways to heal is just by getting your feet on the ground. Feel the earth beneath your feet. Just sit down somewhere quiet in the woods, take your shoes off, let your body and feet melt into the ground. Try standing up and putting your whole weight down on your feet. Reach your hands up over your head and look up at all the leaves and branches. Take deep breaths in through your nose and out your mouth. You can get funky and dance like no one is watching you, or try your favorite yoga moves, or just stand there, do whatever feels right. Try to do this for at least five minuets.
Another one of my favorites, sitting by a body of water. This could be a river, a lake, pond, the ocean, bay, puddle, any natural body of water. Just sit or stand and look deep into the water. Breathing slowly through your nose and out your mouth. Notice all the ripples and movement. Let your eyes go out of focus. Listen to the sounds of the waves, the bubbles, the current, the silence, your mind. Do not fight your mind. Let yourself think any thoughts that you need to think. Remind yourself that your thoughts are just like the waves and current, always moving, sometimes they move faster, some days slower, some days they are positive and some days negative. Let yourself be for a moment with no judgement. Try this for at least 5 minuets.
For a longer exercise, 30 minutes or more, a walk through nature or hike up a mountain. Now do this in rain or shine (I don’t encourage you to do this in hurricane, blizzard, tornado or other dangerous weather, use common sense please) but the rain and a little snow is healing for sure. Start by picking a place, the nature trail down the road, your local mountain, anywhere that there is woods. If are in a city, just walking down the street and noticing trees, flowers little weeds in the cracks in the pavement can be healing. Doesn’t matter if there is a destination but it is more fun (to me) when there is. For this excersise I like to bring my camera. Any camera works. I use a little Sony point and shoot or my canon dslr. Anyway, after you pick your spot, you can invite a friend, family member or dog, but don’t be discouraged if people don’t want to go. Go by yourself if you must. But always tell someone where you’re going and tell them how long it will take. I usually tell people to worry if it’s past sunset. Now go to your location and hike! Not only will you be getting exercise but you will be stimulating your mind and soul with all the nature scenes around you. Keep your breathing steady, try to watch your breath. It’s not a race, take your time. I like to take pictures when I take breaks. This is all free will. Walking in the woods really helps release negative energy in our bodies. Try the exercises above this paragraph on your hiking voyage too.
Another long Eco-Therapy exercise would be mountain biking or Ebiking. I like Ebiking because it is less stress on a body that is not use to the physical labor. It is a really intense, fun sport. Ebiking is great to release stress and let your mind focus on something new. You feel a sense of accomplishment when you reach the top of the hill and then you are rewarded with the fun, challenging downhill. (Always make sure where you are riding is legal) For less intense rides, like on rail trails and bike paths, you can let your mind wander and let all your thoughts pour out with each pedal. Along the trail you will see beautiful sights, and all your senses will be working for you. It’s not a distraction, it’s a new experience and the Ebike is helping shift your mind into gear. Try listening to your breathing with each pedal. How is it different from going faster and slower? It is always good to keep moving when you sense negative energy. Put yourself out there and get moving. Ebiking is personally one of my favorite ways to cope with negative energy.
Another one of my all time favorites would be rock collecting and wood gathering (you can really collect anything you’d like but I will be talking about rocks and wood. Also take note on where you live and look into laws) This is just so special to me. I love rocks, fires, drift wood, strange looking pieces of wood, crystals, shiny things, so what better way than to indulge yourself into nature by collecting things. It’s therapeutic because now you are directing all your attention to finding these rocks and wood. It turns walks into a treasure hunt. You can make art, tools, warmth etc. When your done collecting it’s a win in the end all around. Just don’t go overboard and drain the forest. Don’t strain yourself, keep it casual. I always find myself feeling better and accomplished after gathering.
If you don’t have an Ebike you can rent ours for the day or weekend