AMY KIRK: Ranching hazardous to your clothesOne of the biggest hazards of dealing with livestock every day is the risk of someone getting their clothes damaged.
By: Amy Kirk, The Daily Republic
One of the biggest hazards of dealing with livestock every day is the risk of someone getting their clothes damaged.
Ranches are full of clothing hazards, one of which occurs when operating recently greased equipment. Even lightly brushing against grease-exposed parts can achieve clothes damage. These menacing stains are especially difficult to remove on my husband’s clothes because pre-existing grease stains make it hard to determine old stains from the new ones that could be pre-treated prior to washing, if I were the type to remember to do that.
Another clothing hazard is welding or being exposed to exhaust systems and other mechanical parts that burn and melt things like the synthetic material of my husband’s pricey Carhartt Extreme Arctic coat and coveralls.
The most common ranch hazard to clothing though, is the type of enclosing structure used to contain livestock called barbwire fencing. Barbwire is more commonly known for initiating perfectly good, intact clothing into ranch workwear with holes, tears or patches.
At our house, barbwire is the No. 1 reason clothes get cursed, patched, turned into grease rags or used for dog house bedding. Oftentimes, when I am wearing clothes victimized by barbwire in public, strangers and sometime friends will mistake me for a peasant.
Clothing isn’t even safe from a measly barbwire prick. A poke from a fence barb in the knee vicinity might not rip a hole in a pair of jeans but eventually threads will begin to unravel and widen the hole until it’s big enough to get snagged again or tear with pressure or body movement.
I do, however, seem to fit in well with the younger crowd and my daughter accepts me for not wearing “mom pants” but rather jeans with a few well-placed frayed rips. Stores sell new denim jeans that look like they’d been cranked through a cotton gin, but I can easily achieve the same look with less effort by carelessly crossing barbwire fences and opening gates a few times. Top fence wires usually don’t create much margin for short-legged people to swing a leg over a fence either. The other option is to squat down and crawl through the middle fence wires, which is not only unattractive to watch me do, but something I am rarely successful at achieving alone without one item of clothing getting hung up on the fence.
My biggest ranch-related fear has always been worrying about accidentally mutilating a brand new pair of unharmed denim jeans, a nice-looking top or my jacket while helping do a daily chore that involves an encounter with barbwire. I reluctantly have to do this sometimes when my family and I are on our way to church or headed someplace where we’re going to be gone all day.
The good thing is that the barbwire snagged look is gaining in popularity. Brand new peasant wear is really in right now. I’ve seen new jeans that look just like my barbwire ripped pants in the girls’ and women’s sections at clothing stores. Yet I still get discouraged in maintaining decent looking denim slacks. Ninety-seven percent of my pants get barbwire damaged. I get too lazy to change sometimes and continually take chances wearing my good jeans to do what’s supposed to be simple ranch work. The remaining 3 percent of my jeans get damaged by manure stains that escape pre-treating before washing.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.