lessons learned:  farming boots and defining ourselves
lessons learned: farming boots and defining ourselves

lessons learned: farming boots and defining ourselves

Saturday, I sat down for a rest in my driveway.  I had been hoeing, planting, and mulching for quite awhile, and I needed a break.  As I watched the chickens strut around the perennial bed, I happened to glance down at my boots.   The shiny, bright flowers were hardly recognizable for all the dirt, paint, and scratches covering the surface.  For a fleeting moment, I experienced the bittersweet longing for my new boots, my pretty boots that celebrated Spring, growth, and life.

As I studied the footwear, I noticed a splotch of cherry red paint, a reminder of the cool June weekend my daughter and I painted the chicken coop.  I cherished the rare gift of connection that mothers of teen girls often dream of.

Merging with the paint was a scar from the post hole diggers I’d used at the goat sanctuary when I learned how to put in a fence.  Hot, tired, and sweaty, I came home and physically melted on the couch filled with pride at reaching a milestone in my farming journey.

Turning my feet sideways, I noticed weeks and weeks of dirt and crud caked in the treads.  From March until October, I’d cleaned out chicken muck in these boots, turned compost in these boots, and hauled mulch in these boots–jobs most would consider undesirable but are critical in maintaining what brings me such pleasure.

As I sat in that driveway, I reflected on how my boots had aged.  Most of the tasks that boots accomplish are not glamorous or joyful–they are jobs that are dirty and challenging.  And just as those experiences shape the boot, “dirty and challenging” events also shape our lives.  It’s how we choose to put them to use, however, that makes all the difference, that defines us.

I’ll keep wearing my boots for as long as they’ll have me.  I kinda like seeing that splotch of red paint as my toe pokes through the compost and muck–it gives me something to smile about.


  1. I love the analogy you shared here. I would much rather have the mucky boots along with the memories made than those that had not been tested and tried yet. The muck gives ’em character. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing the food for thought!

      1. Dearest Cameron, I apologize for my delay in doing this sooner. Yesterday afternoon and evening were quite busy around here. But I wanted to personally present you with the Beautiful Blogger Award. You may accept it in any way you wish, but please know that it is intended as a warm cyber hug from me to you simply as an expression of my joy in finding you and your blog. Hope you have a GREAT Friday and an even better weekend!

  2. Lovely, as always.

    The first three weeks on our new farm have been spent scrubbing and digging, painting and sawing . . . Every morning that I wake up and flex my swollen hands I know that I am one day stronger and so grateful to be here doing this work.

    Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Part of what compelled me to start this blog was to help people learn from the simple things that are around us, both in nature and in our homes. I’m always glad to hear when folks make a connection. Thank you for taking the time to comment. ~Cameron

    1. Oh, all kinds of stuff–mainly greens and berries bec/ my little farm has lots of shade–kale and chard in particular. I do well with tomatoes in one spot so I focus on sun drying tomatoes then buy other kinds at the farmers’ market. Herbs do well for me. Cucumbers in Summer. Garlic, onions, and leeks through the winter then harvest in Spring. Trying beets and turnips for the chickens right now–I figure even if I don’t get any root, they’ll love the greens in the winter. Black-eyed peas, green beans, and sugar snap peas do very well for me. Every year though, I pick a “let’s try this one” veggie or fruit just to see what I can do. Some years are good; others, not so much, but farming for me is about learning from and communing with nature–process not product.

  3. Charming post! Tip: when your boots are finally no longer wearable, upend them on fence posts. My aunt did that on their farm, and with four kids they soon had a whole fence line decorated with outgrown or worn out boots, all with their own stories to tell, much like yours.
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  4. You provide a lot of lovely contrasting elements in this post. Your boots themselves are girly and painted with flowers but are worn and covered in muck. I think even the fact that you maintain a blog, a internet technology, while maintaining a farm is a beautiful contrast.

    Perhaps my favorite line was “I cherished the rare gift of connection that mothers of teen girls often dream of.” How very sweet that is. I hope those boots continue to be your partner in life and all the “dirty and challenging” events to come. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Pingback: lessons learned: farming boots and defining ourselves | birdmanps

  6. ‘ Most of the tasks that boots accomplish are not glamorous or joyful–they are jobs that are dirty and challenging.’

    it sure went through unpleasant and dirty tasks…but in a way, it helped you beautify your garden..!

    I like the way you see things..

    *btw Hello from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.. 🙂

  7. I love BOTH versions of boots! The promise of good things to come … the cherished memories of times gone by … the strength to carry you over the next hill (or through the chicken coop) … just love this perspective and very happy to have stumbled onto your page!

  8. I very much enjoyed this post. I think it is not just shoes that have the memories etched into the surface. Old jeans might have rips or stains that bring out some memory in the wearer.

    I also like this post as the wellies are very pretty both clean and dirty (in an admittedly strange way). I think I am having welly jealousy.

    1. You are spot on with the jeans–my first pair of overalls are really a testament to my life as I began my little farm. While they have retired to my blanket chest now, I pull them out now and again and smile in gratitude for all the stories imprinted in the denim. Thank you for stopping in~Cameron

  9. What a lovely post. I completely agree with you. New things seem plush and luxurious. Old things mean so much more though, they tell a story and evoke memories that keep us comfortable and warm when we have to do those dirty and challenging jobs as you described. I hope to have a pair of dirty boots one day!

  10. I enjoyed your story very much, do you have the equivalent for inside the house ? My ugg boots could tell many a tale and even though they are split and daggy, off come the work boots and on go the uggs. May your garden be plentiful.

  11. Pingback: One & Done Sunday #24 | JM Randolph, accidentalstepmom

  12. Great post! My boots are very like these, except they don’t have those cute decorations…just plain ol’ black boots with mud & grass stuck to the bottoms. But they mean being able to get out and about on our ‘farmette’ and do stuff with hubby. 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: