A&L: What’s in a chore coat pocket?

The idea for this story came one early morning during the summer when this author was weeding the garden.

Among the pea plants were two filled out pea pods that I’d missed a few days earlier.

Since there wasn’t a container to put them in, I slipped the pods into the pocket of my chore coat. Then, as I hoed, I wondered about all of the things that ranch women carry in their coat pockets. Later, I called some of the members of the Moffat County CattleWomen to find out.

Evelyn Ott had some advance notice that I’d be calling, so she checked out the contents of her calving chore coat and put them into a painting tray (since she had been painting) with a note on which she’d written, “Save this mess.”

That was so her family wouldn’t throw it all out before she and I talked.

And what a bunch of stuff she had!

Among the items were: a handful of matches (which Ott thinks might have been there to light the trash); a whole bunch of needles and syringes (all used, except for two): two pencils (Ott says, “Of course, with broken lead”); a marker used for numbering tags; a numbered ear tag never used because the calf died; and empty cases for syringes.

But, that’s not all.

While digging around in the bottom of a pocket, Ott found a syringe needle without a case.

“I was living dangerously and didn’t even know it, “she said.

There was also an inch of brown crayon (possibly used by a grandchild); a lone castrating band; four Starlight mints in a package and one opened mint that stuck to the inside of a pocket; a crumpled piece of orange surveyor’s tape (which Ott thinks she might have picked up in the pasture); and at the bottom of each pocket was about a tablespoon of pulverized hay leaves that resembled dust.

No wonder the coat was so heavy.

Since the pockets are cleaned out, Ott said it’s a good time to wash the coat.

Dollie Frentress, of Craig, who lived on a ranch for many years, said that she always kept a bunch of green plastic poultry bands in her pockets. That way, when she found an old hen that wasn’t laying eggs anymore, she put a band on her foot.

That’s how Frentress kept track of potential stew pot hens.

Frentress also kept a ball of string and some safety pins in her pockets because they came in handy for lots of things, especially since she was raising two little boys.

Chris Rhyne, of Craig, also has her children in mind when she puts Kleenex in her pockets. Also in Rhyne’s pockets are twine, a pocketknife, and a welding chalk marker.

Arloa Gerber’s pockets hold Kleenex, too, and also an extra pair of gloves, string to tie around cauliflower plants, fence staples and screws (“that she happens to put there”), and, in the spring, strips of paper torn off seed packets, and even the crumpled-up seed packets themselves.

Betty Ann Duzik had no idea how a Tootsie roll got into her pocket. Also found there was hay and a pair of stretchy gloves.

In the winter, a small pair of pliers is handy to cut baling twine. Cindy Prather, of Craig, said their pasture has lots of pliers hidden just under the soil because over the years she has lost them in the snow, and they have never been recovered.

So she carries cutting pliers in one pocket and, just in case, a steak knife in the other. (It isn’t as easy to lose the knife.) Cindy also carries gloves in her pockets.

The pocket of a chore coat can be handy, indeed.

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