Farming and ranching has a reputation as being a “boots on the ground” sort of profession. Of course there is much more to farming than day-to-day chores and it is a lot more complex and technological than what some would believe. There is something special, however, about playing a role in food production where you literally get your hands dirty and have, well, your boots on the ground.
Having your boots on the ground, however, requires a lot of pairs of boots. Literally.
In our family of five, we seem to have no less than four pairs of boots each. Cowboy math will tell you that I have at the very least twenty sets of footwear sitting by the door. There may be work boots, riding boots and possibly town boots (if you’re lucky). Then you have rubber boots and winter boots, and depending on your budget and level of sentimentality, you can break down each category further into a sub-category of old winter/riding/work boots and their newer, not quite broken-in version.
When it comes to our small fry, while they’re feet are indeed smaller, their boot, er, footprint is no less a problem, as there is usually a pair or two that are slightly too big set out waiting beside the pair they are currently outgrowing. Throw in some running shoes, sparkly princess preschooler shoes, and even an errant pair of high heels kicking around from the last fancy function I attended, and the whole shoe situation gets out of control in a hurry.
All of these boots, and then some, occupy space in my porch. My entire porch is a landing zone for veterinary supplies, loads of groceries, items to return, eight pails of potatoes, toques, sunblock, mitts, bug repellant, work gloves, water bottles, 457 cowboys hats, and an underused vacuum. The space also doubles as my laundry room which just adds to the mix with hampers of dirty and clean clothes, laundry soap and mending. But the boots….they are the crux of the matter.
It turns out, I’m not alone. I made a call for help to my farming peers the other day, asking for their tried and true boot storage solutions. Some gals institute a one-pair-of-shoes-by-the-door policy, others defer to a gigantic bucket or tub that everything gets thrown into. Various shelving units were suggested to me from porches across rural North America, ranging in size and style from Swedish-designed furniture warehouses to homemade rustic planks to Pinterest-worthy beautiful baskets. But everyone agreed, the struggle is real. And the struggle shall continue as long as there are feet that need to be outfitted with boots. It’s a good problem to have, really.
I could take all the footwear in my porch and their corresponding values and trade them in for one very pretty pair of Laboutins or Jimmy Choo heels. Sure, these haute couture shoes would be absolutely frivolous and highly impractical for my lifestyle, but I guarantee they would not take up more than 144 square inches of precious real estate in my porch. Plus, they would be pretty. But my kids and husband would be barefoot, and I’d probably lose a toe out in the barnyard, so we all know that isn’t going to happen.
At this time of year, on the cusp of late fall and early winter, all I can do is survey my porch and know that this is as good as it’s going to get for a real long time. I haven’t even brought up the topic of coveralls and their good, better and best versions (x 5) that I will soon have in heaps in my porch. I just have to put my best boot forward.