Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cow flops, chicken bedding, and skirts...

Now, there are those of you who find the title to be a tad, well...odd.

However, for those of you who are more inclined to the "skirts/dresses only" mindset (I have pants to wear in extreme cases. I've worn them once in two years, I believe), there is a certain sub-current of thought. That farm chores, and farm/country life, are not something that co-exists happily with a skirts only lifestyle, and that to attempt it, is, well, taking one's life into one's hands, risky, and ridiculous.

That, my dear friends, is completely, and totally, incorrect.

Today, for instance...I had some serious farm chores to do--the first real chores of the springtime...

Since we have now managed to confine Annabelle and her handsome assistant Willie, to the corral that they have yet to break free from (and won't, please God!), we had the issue of "cow flops in the yard" to take care. We have, however, a two acre 'yard'. So, cart dragging behind me, pitchfork in hand, I went over the entire yard. Throwing three cart loads of cow flops, into the cart. This is no small yard cart, btw, this sucker is HUGE. Big, big, bicycle wheels. Not, indeed, a cart for a small job...this is a 'manly' cart, as some might say...

Three times I filled it up, and three times, it got emptied onto the garden area.

What was I wearing as I patrolled my yard? A pretty A-line brown linen skirt with ruffles (made of same) on the bias. Pretty, and functional for this kind of work. As a shirt, I wore a nice, coordinating buttondown, white with brown and three shades of rosy pink, vertical stripes--3/4 sleeves of course, with a tailored look to the lines of it...

Before you go "GASP! Rachel! Linen? And a buttondown????"...let me explain something. $1.25. At thrift stores. I very very very rarely will buy a brand new, off of the retail rack, item of clothing (and it is usually underthings). One dollar, and twenty five cents, bought me that outfit. At two different thrift stores. Does it *look* like it cost me $1.25? Um, no. Linen generally does not. Being an A-line skirt, makes it far more workable for out of doors and farm chores maneuvering. And being a breathable, easy care material? Perfect for the warmer temps we have coming on, and the heat produced while one is working hard...

Now...lest you forget the rest of the title...

Chicken bedding. No, not flannel sheets with chickens on them! Silly! Chicken bedding is the straw (or really bad hay) that gets thrown into the chicken coop to absorb all of the chicken manure, etc. It keeps it from simply getting absorbed into the dirt underneath, and so we can clean out the coop at the end of the winter, throw all that delightfully fertile 'stuff' onto the garden plot, till it in, and watch the plants GROW.

We don't have a huge coop, but it was HARD work. With many months, including several very wet, and windy storms (which blows the precipitation into the coop from above, well, we've developed a very hefty, THICK layer of chicken bedding. I got about 1/5th of it out today. The oldest three children got to help haul the bedding out and spread it in the garden (where the chickens were very busily helping spread the bedding even farther afield, as they searched for bugs and grubs and worms and such...). I'd fill up a bucket a wee bit, and one of the children would haul it off, dump it, and meanwhile, I'd be filling a second bucket, and then a third.

All of this, in a pretty buttondown shirt and a nice linen skirt.

Now, did I get sweaty, in spite of temps in the lower to mid-6os, and a moderate breeze? Yes. Do I still need a shower (cause I was working until dinner time, and now I'm too stiff and sore to move myself to the bathroom)? Yes, most definitely! Is my skirt or shirt ruined, stained, or otherwise rendered "unfit for public consumption in the future after a good thorough visit with the washer and dryer"? Nope. They are both still perfectly presentable.

It is possible, indeed, to do farm chores in skirts. Goodness knows, after the chicken bedding, I bucketed up hay and hauled it off for the cows (like I said, they are in the corral), and then bucketed up manure from the pasture and hauled *it* to the garden, too.

The children, the oldest three who worked exceedingly hard today, have bathed and changed and are in their beds. I am soon to be heading there myself, after a very much needed shower.

But before that? My sweet El Husbando is going to bring me a Smirnoff. So that maybe, just maybe, when I go to get up and realize that I have sat in my recliner a touch too long, I won't feel it as Doubtful, but one never knows!

Please, ladies. Don't let the feeling that "skirts are just for city girls with no children, who never clean, or dig in the garden, or get dirty or work hard in any way" get in your way of wearing a pretty skirt. Especially if you are smart, and go via the thrift stores, and find some in your size, suitable for you. I only get machine washable things, because of what we do around here, and the life I lead (five small children, numerous farm animals, lots of outside chores? Yep, machine washable it is!). Well, let me correct that--I do have some wool. Which *technically* can be machine washed, just not on hot, and not dryed in the dryer on a heated cycle. But it is spring, God willing I can put my woolens away for the year into my cedar chest, and not see them again til next fall!

Skirts are versatile, skirts are feminine, and skirts *can* be worn to do 'dirty' work, housekeeping, shoveling manure, or simply digging in your flower beds. Just don't use your brand new, $50 skirt to do it in! :-)

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