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Serving: MO
dirty chore coats hang on pegs Mindy Ward
YEARS OF DIRT: After coming in from the barn, our family hangs the chore coats in the basement. They were full of years of dirt and stuff, until they went through the wash.

What’s in your chore coat pocket?

Work jacket reveals resilience of farmers and ranchers.

It has been years since I’ve actually washed the farm chore coats. Really, why would I clean something that is going to get dirty again? However, in the spirit of fresh starts around the farm, I decided to give them a good deep cleaning.

What I forgot were those hidden pockets, the ones that zip on the outside but remain covered by a flap to hide the zipper. Then there are those found on the inside of the jacket, and that one pocket within a pocket. After only one wash cycle, I realized these were all part of my husband’s chore coat — areas I did not search nor clean out.

What’s inside

I found a pocketknife, ear tags and a few bolts at the bottom of the washer drum at the end of its cycle. A little clunky but not awful. It wasn’t until after a stint in the dryer that I realized either I am bad at laundry or my husband is great at hoarding.

Opening the dryer door, right there resting on the lint trap was a single green elastic rubber band we use for castrating sheep and an alcohol wipe we apparently need for animal or human injury. Still, not too bad, but as I began to pull out the coats, gloves, hats and scarves, I revealed more farm stuff.

Mindy Wardgreen rubber castration band and alcohol swab in dryer


LARGER THAN LINT: The green rubber castration band and alcohol swab made it from the washer into the dryer. Fortunately, they were too big to make it into the lint catch.

There was the plastic that held the ear tags found in the washing machine, pieces of wire, another pocketknife and more — way more — rubber castration bands.

I quickly grabbed his jacket, searched the pockets and, low and behold, found more items.

What it all means

You could surmise, rightly so, that I did not properly prepare the clothes for laundering. Or that my husband needs to do a better job of emptying his pockets at the barn. But since I don’t like placing blame, I chose an alternative, uplifting thought.

As I looked at the remnants, I was amazed. No matter how hard we are on a chore coat, it keeps our possessions to the very last minute. Those items in that coat stood the test of fence building, sheep catching, hay stacking, washing, rinsing, spinning, heating, tumbling and cooling. Amazing.

Mindy Wardwire and white plastic ear tag holder in dryer


MORE GOODIES: With every piece of clothing I pulled out of the dryer, I discovered another farm item such as wire or a white plastic ear tag holder.

But the coat is only as good as the person who wears it.

Farming is hard. Farmers are resilient.

This year’s spring rains cause delays in planting, mud in feedlots and water in the farmhouse basement. However, like that chore coat, farmers withstand whatever circumstances are thrown at them.

They come out on the other side stronger, maybe a little more supple, but always ready to head back to work. No worries, that chore coat is ready.

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