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How to Choose Footwear for Country Living

by Victoria Gazeley

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Before we moved to our rural property, the only shoes  I’d ever owned that even resembled ‘Wellies’ were of the knee-high, steel-toed LaCrosse industrial variety, purchased for a hydro-seeding job one spring in the mid-90s.  No need for this sort of thing in the city – I worked in an office and even in rainy Vancouver, no one wore rain boots.  At least they didn’t back then.  I don’t even think I owned a pair as a child.

In the city, my shoe collection consisted of both practical and crazily impractical styles –  Fluevog boots for walking to work, and strappy heels for date nights and wine tasting events.  Not a single sign of anything that could be worn in anything resembling mud (save for a pair of $400 backpacking boots, which weren’t so great in mud either).

Flash forward to 2009 and our first spring living in the country since I was 17.  Needless to say, it was painfully obvious (quickly, I might add) that I needed some new footwear choices.  Living on a homestead property without the luxury of clean ground surfaces anywhere in sight dictated a more practical, and dare I say, less attractive, alternative.

I purchased a pair of not-inexpensive rain boots, but they split up the back the first year.  Then came the Hunters, but they’re not so easy to get on and off in a rush.  Finally, I found those old LaCrosse boots in the mudroom at my parents’ house.  And I was sold.

Those old boots have been perfect for our situation here.  They slip on quickly, and being a size too big (the smallest  mens’ steel-toed boots they had at the time – they didn’t even come in women’s sizes), there was room to add thick, sheepskin insoles that not only make the boots fit better, but keep the tootsies warm on cold winter trips to the chicken coop or hauling firewood.  They keep the mud out, allow me to keep my other boots clean of chicken poop, and are comfy.  Homesteading boot nirvana.

On our Facebook page recently, I asked friends to share their favorite footwear to wear around their properties.  And they did – some even kindly sending photos.  What struck me as I perused them was how much our choices are affected by climate.  What our friends in Arizona wear around their properties would cause us to end up with frozen, wet toes, and our footwear worn there would be hot, sweaty and stinky.  Not fun either way.

Here are some things to consider when choosing footwear to wear on your new rural property:

  • Pick a style that’s easy to slide on and off and keep them by the door – I can’t imagine what a pain it would be to have to do up laces every time I have to run out to find out why the chickens are squawking blue murder.
  • Will you be working around big animals or machinery?  If so, you’ll likely want secure footwear with steel toes – industrial style.
  • Will you have chickens?  If so, you may want to avoid anything with open toes, as chickens are intensely curious and will peck, well, just about anything… ;)
  • If you live in a climate where winters are cold and wet, you’ll want tall waterproof boots with either removable liners or wooly inserts – and many pairs of thick wool socks.
  • If you live in a climate that’s warm and dry, you’ve got a lot more options!

Here’s some inspiration from some of our Facebook friends

 

Do you have any advice for choosing footwear for rural living?  Please share them in the comments below – you might just save someone from wasting their money on poor shoe choices, and maybe some frozen or cooked toes.

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Revised on June 19, 2012

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John Berry April 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Boots have been on my mind a lot since mud season has arrived. I have a pair but they are not comfortable or warm. This week I will recycle them and get something better. Warm, comfy feet are essential when working outdoors.

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