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Old 19th January 2011, 10:23 AM   #1
Xartep
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Question Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

Has anyone done this before?

One of our beefies had a lovely set of horns, that are currently in the fridge.

What should I do with them???
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Old 19th January 2011, 10:30 AM   #2
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

We used to bury them to allow the bacteria to loosen the inside, then after 3 or 4 months retrieve them. But we didn't have a dog, so I suspect that yours would get dug up by the dogs.
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Old 19th January 2011, 10:40 AM   #3
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

I have never seen it done but I hear that you can pull the middle out of the horn using a long screw after it has rotted a little bit. Then you just leave them to dry slowly in a cool dry place. I used to boil sheep horn but people who know better tell me that is not the way cow horn is best done. It will be interesting to see how other people do it.
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Old 19th January 2011, 10:41 AM   #4
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

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We used to bury them to allow the bacteria to loosen the inside, then after 3 or 4 months retrieve them. But we didn't have a dog, so I suspect that yours would get dug up by the dogs.
Either that or I'd forget where I burried them!
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Old 19th January 2011, 10:41 AM   #5
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

Needs to be done before they get stinky
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Old 19th January 2011, 10:53 AM   #6
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

@ Xartep, if you don't find a use for them the Biodynamic Association would put them to good use for preparing their 'preparations' in. Prep' 500 (horn manure) and 501 (silica) are both buried in cow horns for the biological / energy maturation process to take place.

Due to most cattle being dehorned now the supply of horns is meager and as horns in use for prep's degrade with each use the Association is constantly on the lookout for replacements. Horns don't need to be from organic livestock.

Anybody who has horns available please PM me or contact the Biodynamic Association and pick-up/drop-off will be arranged. TIA
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Old 19th January 2011, 11:20 AM   #7
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

Let them rot until the inside falls out, then either place in a net bag and submerge in a warm water stream to let the minnows and koura and water bugs eat out the crap inside, or bury and let the soil microrganisms turn the rotted flesh still hanging on the inside into more dirt. After a month or two either way, scrub out the inside thoroughly with a wire brush and soak in vinegar for a day or two. Follow this with boiling until soft and hammering a wooden form mould inside to shape the softened horn to a wider, straighter and fuller shape to hold more booze. Let dry on the form until cold and hard once more and pull the horn off the form. cadge some hard beeswax from somewhere and bring to a bubbling simmer, not just melted, HOT without actually boiling, pour into the inside of the cup and swish around to cover all surfaces, pour out the excess and let dry.

Hey Presto! a authentic Viking marauders drinking horn.

Now the question is are you a noble viking or some mid rank yeoman... slaves and kitchen serfs used wooden carved bowls or leathern mugs sealed with pitch. Noble vikings would have a curved horn with a collar near the mouth from which two legs descended to make a tripod with the tip of the horn. Mid ranked warriors just had the horn alone, moulded straight, and a hole bored in the table to hold the horn.


Modern wise, a food grade epoxy instead of beeswax might be the way to go. Mulled mead and wine was served at below the melting point of wax, and most everything else was room temperature, or cellar temp.


Lil Red Digger, I suspect the reason your friends said not to boil the horn is cows horns soften when hot, to much and they can cool and harden all wonky.
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Old 19th January 2011, 11:26 AM   #8
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

Sometime Kiwi303 I worry about the things you know...
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Old 19th January 2011, 11:37 AM   #9
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

ive done this as well and rotting out the inside is the easiet way. If yourve no stream for the last part boil the horn and the last of the rubbish falls out. Caution it stinks and the wife was not impressed.
You can also scrimshaw a design on the outside of the horn before you seal it. I used a small file and paint. That way theres never a duel over whoses horn it is.
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Old 19th January 2011, 12:09 PM   #10
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

Fabulous!!!

I knew someone on here would know what to do.

It is pretty much the process I had suspected, with the fine details filled in.

Don't like the smelly bit, but can't be any worse than what the dog puked up this morning

We have access to a engraving tool, the sort that singes wood (bit vague that aye) and were going to put designs on the outside and fill in with silver wire. Hadn't worked out how to make a stand.

Will post pics when done...

Thanks guys
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Old 19th January 2011, 04:36 PM   #11
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

ooo will be keen to see pictures!
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Old 19th January 2011, 09:02 PM   #12
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

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Sometime Kiwi303 I worry about the things you know...
I am so glad someone else was thinking along the same lines as me!!

Kiwi, do you google it or have you actually done it?
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Old 19th January 2011, 11:16 PM   #13
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

Not google I did one horn once, but admittedly that was pulled off a set of bones in a gully, long since dry and odourless, so I short cut part of the process. Whittling the mould cost me a bad cut when my hand slipped!

Most of my trivia comes from reading books and experimenting. I actually have far more trivia in my head from various sources such as crafty type friends, books, museum exhibits and so on than from online. Through these days the amount of online information is rapidly catching up... Historical society publications and Society for Creative Anachronisim were interesting

I actually once read the ENTIRE encyclopaedia Brittanica, 1970's edition, from A to Z gradually over the period of a couple of years when being babysat by my aunt when my parents were off on trips to things like weddings and funerals and so on.

I read voraciously, my aunt had NO reading matter other than a few crotchet patten books and a shelf of obsolete Enc Brits.



I'm not quite up to appearing on Rough Science, but I can do a lot of things
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Old 20th January 2011, 08:03 AM   #14
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Re: Cleaning out cattle horns for useas drinking vessels

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I actually once read the ENTIRE encyclopaedia Brittanica, 1970's edition, from A to Z gradually over the period of a couple of years when being babysat by my aunt when my parents were off on trips to things like weddings and funerals and so on.

You must be a mean crocheter too then! I taught my self from pattern books.
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