Dressing for winters in Virginia

So this past January was interesting. We had the lowest low in many years. I’m sure plenty of you have had lower, but negative 4 in Virginia is relatively uncommon. Hell, I’ve been in lower temperatures than that having lived in SouthWest Pennsylvania in my early years. But that was long ago and far away.

I am always trying to find the cheapest way to do or take care of something. Sometimes that results in spending even more money because I still have to go the more expensive route due to the cheaper way not holding up to or meeting expectations. Usually this is because I need something at a time when we have the least amount of money to spend on something. Of course I’d go the more expensive route when possible, but it’s almost never possible. Not when I need it anyway. But occasionally I do get lucky. Like the Bogs I found deeply discounted at a, you guessed, discount store. I bought a pair for $40. That’s right, I said $40. They have successfully been through 2 winters of very hard wear. I use them as my barn boots. So they have to deal with me carrying heavy loads, snow, rain and lots and lots of mud. Lots of mud. I have had cheap snow boots from Walmart that didn’t last halfway through a winter, and another pair of snow boots that would have probably lasted, but the zipper got wonky and well, it was time to replace them. I believe I bought them from Target, but not sure of the “name” brand, it was like Polaris, but not the off road vehicle manufacturer. Anyway, I had had them for quite some time, but before I had horses and so never had to put up with heavy use. They were only used when it snowed, which there for a while, seemed like it wasn’t much for several years. But when I started to use them more, then I guess their true colors showed. Showed they weren’t really up for the task. If I have to replace my Bogs, and can’t find them at a discount store when they put their winter gear out, I’ll buy them directly from the source. They are worth it at this point. I also read on another blog that they are someone else’s absolute favorite for homesteading life in a much colder climate.

As for clothing, well, layering is definitely the way to go. I don’t rely on my coat/jacket alone to keep me warm. I wear appropriate clothing because normally I’m comfortable in them inside and only need another layer to go outside. Except on those really cold days. Then having a heavier coat/jacket is nice. Also, I have found that most women’s clothing sucks. Why are there no pockets???? My husband can’t be with me 24/7 including when I’m out at the barn. I need pockets for various things. So, I buy men’s clothing…..but it is barn wear so what does it really matter? I have 2 pairs of heavy weight sweat pants that have plenty of pockets. But the cargo pocket is at a weird level and kind of low, so I almost have to bend over to reach it. Which is why I want a coat with pockets. Recently my favorite barn jacket decided it no longer wanted to be worn. The zipper on this thing has always been a pain in the ass challenge and finally it started separating after being zipped up. Previously, I’d been able to work it back down and all was good. The other day, I had it zipped all the way to my chin and it separated the entire length, all the way up to the zipper pull. I had nothing to work with and couldn’t get it to come back down. So I had to pull it apart to get out of it. I decided then and there I was done and it was time to get a replacement. So started a search that I didn’t think would be so difficult.

I am the type that doesn’t like to follow trends. In fact if too many people like a particular product or thing, it makes me want to find something else. So, I did not want anything Carhartt. So much so that I have a pair of coveralls that are the Walls brand. I don’t use them very often, don’t usually need to, but they are just fine when I do need to. I do wish it had a hood, but not that necessary. I can work around that. Now, I was convinced that I’d have to get what I needed in the men’s department, but when I went to Tractor Supply online I thought I’d just check and see. Sure enough, there were heavy duty/workwear jackets for women. And I found one I really liked and wanted. I could order it online and wait for it to ship to me, or the little button said I could pick it up at the store. But it did say low stock. So I called the store and one of the ladies that I normally talk to when I go in answered. She looked up the sku# and said they were out and that they were trying to get rid of the coats they had and then box up the ones that didn’t sell. So, I decided I would look around and see if I could find anything else like it online. I mean after all, if I was going to have to order it online, might as well look to see if I’d have any better luck elsewhere. I looked at Amazon. I looked at Sears, Penney’s, Walmart, Target and anything and everything in between. There was nothing remotely close to that jacket I found at Tractor Supply. So, I decided I would have to buy it online and hope it would arrive before Spring. I had the option to chose 2 day shipping, and since there was an online sale I figured hey, I’ll just spend that extra savings on getting it here faster. After all I am without a barn jacket and it’s still freezing cold!!!

Ok, so I do have another jacket that I can use, but I prefer not to and don’t want to wear it too often. Here’s why. I bought this jacket at Walmart many, many years ago. I love the colors, a sort of soft, very light olive green with white. It is supposed to be a ski jacket. It was sold as such. It is a down jacket with a zip off hood. And it certainly would be at home at a ski resort. Or even in a climate much much colder than where I live. Maybe even colder than anything Pennsylvania could throw at me. The biggest reason I don’t like wearing this jacket is that it is like a sauna as soon as you put it on. In fact, I try not to put it on until I’m ready to step out the door. It’s a little ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the jacket. If I were ever stuck out in the cold for any length of time, it would be the jacket I would hope I had on. Other than that, it’s nearly useless. It is rarely ever so cold that wearing it while doing much of any kind of exercise outside is a feasible option. I also don’t think it would stand up to very much excessive use. I don’t think it would handle the rigors of barn chores for very long. A ski resort is where it belongs. However, it will stay with me because it is after all very warm. And I do use it occasionally when it’s that bad out (like the -4 degree night and the single digit day temp and the barely 2 digit temps for the couple days before and after that one). Or when I visit my home state. I will not say I hate it because I don’t. Far from it. I’d even wear it riding should I ever ride in very cold temps again (lessons by trainers who could care less if you’re freezing can be brutal). That wind though.

So while I do have something, it is not a permanent solution. Thus the need for a new barn coat.