As a farmer, I have a yearly ritual. Thanksgiving is my years’ end. We have butchered the last of our chickens and the turkeys too. Winter crops are tucked safely in the greenhouse and are of a manageable size. December is when Farmer Steve and I regroup before beginning next year’s projects.
I mark the end of one season and the beginning of the next with a new pair of work boots. As I hauled the last of the turkeys inside to the refrigerator last week I thought about my boots and the journey they have had.
These boots were slipped on 362 days in the past year (these feet escaped to Chicago to meet a new granddaughter :)). They have faded in color and wear stains.
These boots balked on the coldest winter days, but ultimately trudged outside for morning chores. The first stop was always the coop where the bottom treads became caked with chicken shit. The trip out to the pasture to release the guineas was a long enough trek to wash it all away.
These boots welcomed eight cows into the farm fold. These boots witnessed the birth of number nine, running as fast as they could in the pouring rain to get that first glimpse.
These boots had their first “taste” of what happens when a heifer is put into a head gate and chute. Never have they seen or worn that much diarrhea.
These boots survived the harshest summer days, but also acted as protection from fire ants while we toiled in the planting fields. They plodded along slowly as we carried another 40 lb. bag of watermelons to the barn.
These boots butchered hundreds of chickens and thanked each and every one of them for the healthy meal they were going to provide to our customers.
These boots paced back and forth waiting for children to drive down that dirt road out front. These boots splashed and danced with grandbabies. They excitedly helped decorate for a wedding. Then they did the teary walk back inside at the end of each visit.
These boots held strong while horse manure was shoveled onto an open trailer and then did it all over again when it was time to unload the shit onto the planting beds.
These boots have been to out to lunch to our favorite Mexican dive, but also embarrassingly slithered into the fanciest restaurant in town, praying that the chicken blood splatters weren’t too noticeable.
These boots will no longer see much active duty, but they will not be disposed of either. These boots will join the others against the wall in the barn. They will live out their retirement waiting for some city-slicker child of mine who shows up with fancy loafers instead of shit shoes. And they will ready and able because they’ve seen it all, these boots.