In early 2019 I stashed 8 sheep skins in my garage. They were in various stages of my tanning process, but none were finished. I’d had a banner year on my farm – my best season yet – selling garden produce, whole pigs, lamb cuts, handmade soaps, and tanned-by-my-hands-sheepskins. But things happened in my life, and I stopped just about all of that.
It’s fall 2021, & those 8 sheepskins are ready to be soaped and smoked and softened into luxury; I’m ready to finish the work.
Hi, I’m Rachel Koski Nielsen. I am lucky to have a small farm in chilly east-central Minnesota where I garden, tend fruit trees, run my dogs, tan hides, and practice other old skills like soap-making.
I used to have a flock of sheep in my care, but I sold them in early 2020 because… well, that’s a long story.
I’ve been farming (& writing about it) in one shape or form since 2010 at age 22.
Things I’m currently or used to be pretty good at include: chopping firewood, splitting fence rails, making hard cider and country wines, driving horses, raising pigs & chickens & sheep, selling handmade soap, and preserving animal hides.
I started this site to document my process and experiences as I get back into soap-and-smoke tanning skins. I’ll have a limited number of tanned skins available for purchase, along with other seasonal offerings from my homestead like dried flowers, preserved sheep skulls, and handmade soap.
If you’ve read this far, consider buying me a coffee to help me continue to grow my “micro tannery” and explore more ways to create the oldest textile!