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weird decomposition question.  RSS feed

 
Leah Sattler
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okie dokey. my dh wants a goat skull.    After buchering I figure we will bury it in the garden and let all the goodies take care of the flesh for us and we will have a relatively clean skull after a period of time. my question is, how long? I really don't want to attempt to dig it up before its "ready". 
 
Susan Monroe
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I've heard of four ways of doing this.

My friend the old farmer-girl buries hers, then digs them up and bleaches them.  I have a nice opossum skull from her (it would be better without the bullet hole, but...).  The main problem she runs into is that "certain other parties" sometimes dig them up first and carry them off.  The active layer of soil is only about 7" deep (where the fenceposts rot).

A guy in CA used to make skeletons of dead animals he found.  He would boil the body in a big pot outdoors, then dump the water, add fresh water and soak/cool, then work the bones clean by hand.  He said he boiled for several hours, so most of the stuff was falling off.

If you have a lot of ants, just lay the skull near the ant hill and cover it with something like a basket with rocks on the top.  The ants go through the mesh and clean it up. (This doesn't work well with tiny things like hummingbird bodies, I've discovered -- apparently the ants carried the bones off, too.)

The Smithsonian has drawers of beetles and maggotty things that eat the flesh off.  Maybe the gristle too.  Dermested beetles, a site says they are, aka carpet beetles.

"I would like a pound of carpet beetles to go, please."

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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ha ha ha . I remember seeing something about the beetles that eat the flesh off. how creepy is that? I didn't think about the active layer of soil so that is a great tip. I will bury it shallow. I'm not planning to go to much effort for it and won't boil or anything and I don't see my husband doing that either. maybe I can jsut dig a little and peek every now and then to check it.  come to think of it we buryed  the offal and leg bones of the last one maybe I should go out there and peek to see how far along it is.
 
Susan Monroe
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I think I read that optimum temperature for rotting it off is about 96F.  So, to make this on-topic, bury it in the compost pile!  Let the microherd do the work. 

Sue
 
Steve Nicolini
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My teachers have taught me some methods for cleaning skulls.  I found a grouse skull about a month ago.  If you put the skull in a milk carton, close it off with rocks, and bury the thing, the little critters will get to it and it will keep the big critters out.  Check it every couple of days.  They will probably clean everything off.  Osteology departments raise colonies of dermestid buildings year round.  Ants, flies, and maggots are your friend.  That grouse had a bunch of maggots in it and I killed them thinking they would do it harm.  My skull is not looking that great. 

You can boil it, but do it outside.  There is a cold water cleaning too, but that takes a very long time.  It requires soaking the skull in a bucket and changing the water every few days.  If you do this, leave some water in the bucket to maintain bacteria population. 

 
Leah Sattler
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well, a month or so in the ground isn't enough buried shallow at current ground temps. My dog got out and dug up the one we did a while back. still 90% intact.
 
Susan Monroe
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If your dog isn't too large, you might get away with putting it in a shallow 'grave', and then weighting it down with a few stacked 16'x16" concrete pavers.

Maybe.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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well, the dog isn't even supposed to have access. she jumped the backyard fence and then squeezed through the weak spots in the fence by the creek. (lesson learned, avoid having to fence through creeks, what a headache) its covered in logs now but that I dunno if that will be enough. at at least I got a bit of an idea of how far it got in a month. I like the idea of using the compost pile and I'm going to try that. but I'm going to wait till we move. its much easier to move meat on the hoof than meat in a freezer. I haven't been grcery shopping except for essential things we run out of so i can deplete my stocks some and make the move easier. its a little scary using up my supplies.
 
Susan Monroe
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"...its a little scary using up my supplies."

Yes, it's like tempting Fate, isn't it?

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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geez susan that sends a shiver through me. with the instability in the economy right now coupled with the fact that I am already have tinfoil hat tendencies it really does feel like I am tempting fate. I like to have six months of supplies (bare essentials, if we were to truly live of it we would be pretty bored with our food options at the end) on hand and plenty of options on the hoof and claw, it makes me feel safe. I have already gone through a months worth. I won't touch the bulk dry goods because they are easy to move, I could keep restocking all the dry goods but I know that having boxes and boxes filled with heavy canned goods will be a real headache at a time that is already filled with headaches. the freezer needs to be empty or that stuff will likely just go to waste anyway so I am starting with eating out of that. I do indeed feel as if I am tempting fate and I prefer to appease it by all means. hopefully the gods will go easy on me since I am looking to buy a place that will allow us to be even more self sufficient. 
 
Susan Monroe
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Everything you said makes sense.  Carrying boxes of canned foods gets old fast.

I discovered a way to disguise your tinfoil hat, totally by accident.  I was outdoors in the cold and my double-thick acrylic knit hat wasn't good enough.  I thought of those mylar emergency blankets, and thought that aluminum foil might do just as well. 

So I tore off a piece that was about 12x12" or so (whatever the width is), and formed it over my head, tucking the corners under, then pulled my hat on over it.  It worked great, very toasty.

However, if your's looks like a Viking helmet with horns, you're obviously going to have a problem. 

Sue

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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mine looks like a borg head........the stocking cap is a great suggestion but it just wouldn't cut it, I prefer to use my stealth field. I'm keeping up on my vulcan nerve pinch so that when the shtf and someone comes knocking wanting my goat milk I can kindly let them in the door than drop 'em,  rendering them unconcious so i can dispatch them humanely.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Hi Leah,

I just ran across an interesting post about composting (on Facebook of all places!) and thought it might help with your goat skull. This guy on Facebook, John Cossham, starting a composting discussion and here is a portion of his reply to someone about composting food:

"There is a brilliant way of composting all cooked food, including meat and fish, and that's Bokashi. The cooked foods are put in a sealed but drainable container with sprinkles of bran innocculated with a special mix of bacteria and fungi, and this decomposes anaerobically without giving off methane, it sort of 'pickles' or ferments, and when it has undergone this process it can be composted on a normal heap or just dug into a trench in the soil. Bokashi is from Japan, and is just catching on in the UK. Look it up on the net, you may be able to get it where you are."

This might be just the ticket for what you want to do!
 
Leah Sattler
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I'm going to have to look into that thanks! the goat bits that were buried over a month ago have been dug up and disappeared........there goes the after thought experiment.  must bury deeper. bleche. thought I found it in the front yard but that was the remnants of a deer. nice. dead animals everywhere.    that'll be great when a prospective buyer stops by. "don't worry the scent of decay is included in the purchase price. Isn't that a nice bonus?".
 
Susan Monroe
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It sounds as if you'd better tie down your skulls if you want to keep them around! 

Maybe a sturdy wire mesh basket over it with rocks or bricks piled on top would work.

Or fewer predators.

Sue
 
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