The Well-Dressed Ranch Wife


Creative Commons License photo credit: Siona Karen

You’d think that your wardrobe wouldn’t be an issue if you live on a ranch, and to some extent that might be true. Certainly, we don’t dress for dinner, and the pigs don’t care if my jeans have rips or patches. But there are some wardrobe considerations that might not apply in a more urban setting.

For example, I don’t recommend shorts. In my experience, every time I have worn shorts I have had to climb through a barbed wire fence. I’d much rather have those sharp little tetanus-bearing points slash my pant leg than my tender skin. In the summer, the stickers and blackberries are – shall we say numerous? – and equally hard on bare flesh. Not to mention rattlesnakes. No, I will stick with my nice heavy denim jeans year round, thank you very much.

For similar reasons, I don’t wear sandals or thongs (the granddaughters consider me hopelessly old-fashioned because I don’t use the more modern term “flip-flops”). Hubby likes work boots but they’re too heavy for me. A good, solid, leather lace-up walking shoe holds up well to the elements and I don’t feel like a recalcitrant gang member in concrete overshoes. If it’s really muddy and sloppy, I use rubber overshoes.

Winter is a time to layer: long-sleeved tee shirt, sweatshirt and jacket if necessary. Gloves are a must. Mittens or knitted gloves attract bits of hay, stickers and such that almost invariably wind up in poking you in a place you can’t reach easily. Leather gloves hold up well to fencing, feeding and general rough activity, but they aren’t much for warmth. Silk gloves inside the leather ones make a big difference and aren’t so bulky as to make it impossible to wiggle the fingers. Warm socks, two pairs if necessary (another reason I like lace-up shoes) because if your feet are cold, I guarantee you will be miserable. I don’t really like hats, but in winter I often wear a knitted hat to cover my ears and prevent heat loss.

Carry the appropriate tools in your pockets. A handkerchief or bandana holds up better than Kleenex. Unlike a plastic tube, a tin of lip salve won’t break if you sit on it or the cow knocks you flat on your back. Don’t forget your pocket knife – it’s a pain to have to saw through baling twine with the sharp edge of a rock.

Cotton underwear is better when you’re doing sweaty work, and for heaven’s sake (not to mention your own) wear a good supporting bra. Bouncing when you have to run to beat a cow to the gate is uncomfortable. It’s probably inelegant as well, but I gave up on elegance years ago…

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