Friday, January 28, 2011

Mr. Roger’s Farmhood

Little is spoken about farm couture. Judging by the on-farm snapshots that people take of me, that could probably be a good thing when it comes to me. I am prone to adorning myself with whatever thing is clean (or not) and handy in whatever layers they happen to make it on. I also seem to have a gamut of items that the previous owner left in our mudroom that still circulate on a regular basis. Did I mention that he was a 65-year-old fellow? No self-respecting woman who hopes to gain her husband’s attention should be sporting attire that belonged to a 65-year-old man, right? There are some pretty appalling get-ups going on in those photos. But what is a practical girl to do? I like to be able to move, get dirty and stay warm or cool or unexposed to sun or bugs. At the time, it always makes a lot of sense.

Rob, on the other hand is the Mr. Rogers of farming. I swear he has a different outfit for every task. He has a greenhouse outfit, a barn outfit, a chainsaw outfit (very attractive in this one!), a construction outfit, a horse-logging outfit, a harvesting outfit, a stoking-the-furnace outfit and on and on it goes. He will even change outfits throughout the day depending on what he is up to and not necessarily just sport the pre-dominant one.

When we are getting ready to head for the city, he usually takes a great deal longer than me as well and there are multiple rejected outfits on the bed once the final ensemble is chosen. He will NOT wear his farm work clothes to town, even if we are in the middle of a job and need to run in to pick something up and even if he is running late. He has the self-respect and class to change into clean, presentable clothes before he is seen in public.

I, on the other hand, am not so inclined. My husband also has more style in his socks than I do in my entire closet. Rob is kind enough not to comment and I do feel pleased that I have not yet been caught dropping my kids at day care in my pajamas, but there are some pretty horrific scenes taking place some mornings. Incidentally, I have a son who at 18 months began picking out his outfits by himself, including the order in which they were to be put on. At 3, he is still showing no signs of taking up his mother’s lackadaisical manner with fashion.

It has taken me a long time, however, to learn that there is a VERY good reason for the “Mr. Roger’s Approach” to dressing on a farm. (By the way, do you all know Mr. Rogers? He was this guy with a children’s show who began every segment by changing his shoes and coat into slippers and a cardigan right on camera. Even as a 5 year old, it used to drive me nuts how long he took tying up those laces and doing up those buttons and I couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t have just dressed himself BEFORE they started filming!) Do you wanna know why I now believe different outfits make sense on a farm? One word folks: smell.

I have been known to stop off at the barn on my way into my office cubicle to do one quick thing and the whole drive into the city I am left wondering why it should smell of manure in the car. You guessed it! No matter how much you avoid those cow patties, there is bound to be a stray hitchhiker managing to somehow attach itself to your boots. I much preferred horse poop to cow dung as the horse piles seem to manage to keep more discreet. The cow ones just infiltrate no matter how much you stay out of their way.

A friend of mine also has a 5-minute rule with her clothes in the barn. It is also true for hair. You pretty much can’t stand in any kind of barn, no matter how clean, that is shared with any number of animals and escape without smelling a whole lot like them after 5 minutes. I have now learned that snuggling up against the flank of a fuzzy winter-coated Jersey every morning surely assigns me a round of shampoo in my hair every day when I’m done. No matter how much I tuck hair into my hat, or how much I wash my hands with soap, and how many layers I am wearing, every part of me smells like a cow when I leave that barn.

And if I think about this a bit more, when I stoke the furnace, I smell of smoke. If I drive the tractor, I smell like oil or fuel. If I harvest tomatoes, I am green from the stems and smelling of Italian pasta dishes. I have also learned that sawdust sticks to wool like nobody’s business and straw will not under any circumstances be separated from fleece.

You are what you work at. Literally. You are stinky or stained or decorated from it anyway.

So outfits, my friend, are the answer. Many, many different outfits and one very awesome pair of coveralls. And while you’re at it, you may as well colour coordinate because you just never know which photo will end up on Facebook.


  1. laughed and laughed...thanks so much!

  2. Here I was thinking this was going to be about my husband. He's like you, I'm afraid, and isn't very concerned about his farm clothes. However, like Rob, he won't head to town in them. As for good clothes, he wears whatever I lay out for him :-)

  3. Great post! It made me chuckle, as it is so true (I grew up on a farm!)

  4. I really enjoyed this post. It's soooooo true!!

  5. I love this post so much, I read it twice already. It's just soooo true.


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