Down on the farm gumboots are essential equipment. At a pinch, in summer, one might substitute crocs in the area close to the house, but any time you are striding across paddocks the added protection of gummies is most desirable.
In winter there is mud and wet grass to contend with. During summer those of you who insist on skimpier footwear will get biddy-bids and seeds get caught between your toes and stuck in your socks. Our paddocks are resplendent with good manure all year round, and the girls who create that manure are heavy if they happen to stand on your foot. No surprises that once you live on a farm you develop that unmistakable marker of rural living: the gumboot tan line.
We like to ensure no guest suffers misfortune, so we keep a variety of gumboot styles and sizes handy to the back door. The abundance is partly due to a goodly range of boots that travelled with us from West Auckland (once renowned for it’s wonderful clay resource, and now for the mud that same clay creates), partly to boots left by our townie visitors. I’m always thrilled when people say ‘I think I might just leave these here for next time I come up’. It’s a promise to return.
Awesomely, if you pop into Whangarei for a bit of shopping you can continue to wear your gumboots. Today I walked around Mitre 10 in stretched out fleece pants, a far-too-big brushed cotton shirt smelling strongly of horse, and my blue gummies. There was no fear of looking out of place. A chap in the next aisle over was sporting white gumboots and stubbies. Just try that at Sylvia Park Shopping Centre, people.
Oh, and for really formal occasions, such as visiting Auckland, us rural folk have cowboy boots. Bloody oath!