Spring and early summer mean a plethora of things:

Whitehurst marci
Freelance Writer
Marci Whitehurst is a freelance writer, ranch wife and the mother of three children. You can foll...
  • Prepping pastures or fieldwork for hay crops
  • Moving cows
  • Irrigating
  • Fencing
  • Spring/summer cleaning
  • … and layers! Clothing layers!

Many of us live in places where the weather may change at the blink of an eye. We may have four layers on in the morning, but by afternoon, we have shed three of them: our “I’m warming up” layer, our “It’s past midmorning” layer and our “Dang, it’s a different climate” layer, which leads to:

"Where did I leave those layers?"

It’s not that we truly forget what we did with them; it’s just that, in the course of a day, our locations change. We may start off on horseback in the morning, take a four-wheeler by midmorning, and wind up in a truck or tractor after lunch. This means we have to remember where we left our heavy jacket so we have it for the next morning.

When the kids were little, there seemed to be clothing all over, despite our best efforts to bring them all back to their hooks. Slickers were left outside once the sun came back out, while things like gloves and hats could be found anywhere.


When fencing, we’ve been known to toss a jacket or long-sleeved layer on a fencepost. It marks where we started, and then we can go back and get the clothing on our way down the fenceline. Of course, if the wind comes up (which it often does) or if the dog gets to playing … well, that often changes where the clothing winds up.

Recently, I went to fill a to-go mug in the morning, but I couldn’t find one. We have several, so I double-checked a few cupboards. After coming up empty, I asked my hubby where they might be, and the look on his face said it all: “Probably outside somewhere.”

Embarrassingly, we didn’t find them, so I bought a couple extra mugs.

You guessed it! The following week, my husband found three missing mugs in his saddlebags and one in the side-by-side. It made me wonder if his saddlebags were related to Mary Poppins’ carpetbag. Does he have an entire lamp in there, too?

The things I misplace most often are my shoes. I know, it sounds impossible, but here’s how it goes: If my shoes or boots are clean and I come inside without taking them off by the door, then I start doing something and kick them off absentmindedly. Later, when I’m quickly trying to scoot out the door, I can’t remember where I kicked them off, and I make a run through the house to see if I kicked them under a desk, a table or … ? At least the dogs are no longer puppies. I remember when we’d kick muddy boots off by the door, and if we were lucky, they were still there when they were dry. More than once, we retrieved boots from a puppy’s mouth, so we began putting boots on a shelf in the garage.

Retrieving all these layers and putting away the winter clothing is part of my spring cleaning. But since spring weather doesn’t always come to Montana in spring, and we calve in the spring, I often get to spring cleaning in the summer.

On a ranch, spring and early summer cleaning isn’t just indoors:

  • Ranch trucks are filthy after the winter – the mud on the outside, the hay on the inside and about 4,500 gloves (some pairs, some not). The ranch truck is home to many winter layers including, but not limited to: coats, hats, pocket knives and scarves.
  • In the field, it means picking up loose hay strings. We gather our strings after every feeding, but sometimes they get away from us in the wind, and we find them later. It means collecting trash – we get a lot of wind around here – and harrowing.
  • After all the snow we got this year, there are roads to level back out and yards to clean up because we blew gravel in them with the snow blower on the tractor.
  • Spring often brings some touch-up paint or stain and then the start of gardening! I love having a garden. Last year, our last frost was June 15, so mine got in a little late, but we still had carrots, lettuce, squash and tomatoes.

Finding all these cowboy accessories, aka layers, is part of spring and summer cleaning. It includes the house, but also the barn, trucks, saddlebags and side-by-sides and ends with planting a garden. When gardening season is over, I’ll be cleaning the garden beds and winterizing and pulling out all those layers I collected and washed. But for now, it’s time to enjoy the sun because I’m tired of all those winter weather layers – my tired attire!