Taxidermy Mk.1

First try - a greyhen for posterity (the ribbon is just until she dries).
First try – a greyhen for posterity (the ribbon is just until she dries).

Just a quick note to record my first half-successful attempt at taxidermy; a greyhen that has been lurking in my freezer since September. I spent a considerable amount of time removing all the flesh and bone marrow from this bird according to directions I gleaned online and from a Taxidermy book I bought a few years ago. I then salted her and wrapped her around a pre-fabricated hen pheasant form – the result is not unappealing, but this photograph was taken from the most flattering angle. There are some holes and bald patches on the other side, and I fouled up the tail so that it hangs down rather limply. I almost found myself complaining that she was just coming out of her moult and some of her tail feathers are a bit tatty, but even a cursory inspection would reveal that I have inflicted far more pressing concerns on her anatomy than a slight loss in plumage condition.

For now it is fine, but the acid test will be how long I can stand to have it in the house. I am keen that it should dry out as soon as possible, since there is still some brain, sinus and palate matter that I couldn’t get out without cracking the skull. There’s also some meat between the radius and ulna which was so awkward to get at that I gave up and just pasted it with more salt. I happened to be listening to Sandi Toksvig on the radio while trying to clear this up, and that never improves my patience.

I’ve always wanted to give taxidermy a go, and while I should have started with something less valuable than a greyhen, I’m starting to understand some of the processes involved. I’d love to take the plunge and do a course with someone who really knows what they’re doing, but I have enough difficulty finding time for my current interests without incessantly taking on new ones. I’d very much like to try a roe buck shoulder mount this summer, and the offer of stalking a chinese water deer in Norfolk would surely have to be followed up with an attempt to mount the little devil. In due course, I’d love to try fish carving too – it’s my age-old problem – so many potentially life-consuming hobbies and so little time to pursue them.

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