Farm Shoes

So, this week I bought these farm shoes. I know that some people call them “wellies,” but I don’t know what they’re called around here. Just “rubber boots” maybe.

I need them not because I am a real farmer in any way, but because Spring has sprung (sort of … we are also still getting snow), and even if a person only has 3 chickens, their run is still surrounded by mud. With these boots, I feel that I have leveled up in some small way.

As a person who romanticizes the past, the boots naturally got me thinking about what people did for mud shoes (in Europe, say) before they had access to rubber. The answer, of course, was clogs or wooden shoes. You can see them on French peasants in Millet’s paintings sometimes.

“The Gleaners,” by Millet. You can’t really tell what the shoes are made of, but you can see that they’re sort of in the clog family.

But I’m Dutch (actually, Frisian) by ancestry, and we have our own iconic version of the wooden shoe. I don’t know about other peasant clogs, but Dutch wooden shoes have to fit rather large and be worn with several layers of socks. They float, which is important in Holland.

Here is me in a partially authentic “Dutch costume” that my mom made, displaying the klompen. (That’s what the wooden shoes are called, for obvious reasons.) She did not make the klompen. We got those at De Klomp Wooden Shoe factory in Holland, Michigan, which is still in operation to this day. There, you can buy everything from tiny souvenir klompen to ones that fit you to huge painted klompen to put on your porch. You can watch the shoes being carved and hollowed out. You can have your name woodburned onto a pair if you wish. The whole place smells really good, like fresh wood shavings and woodburning smoke.

Here is someone I know (also of Frisian blood), modeling the klompen and the milk maid buckets. I know the blurring, and the basket in the foreground, make it look like this picture was taken in a studio, but it was actually snapped outdoors. The roses are real and those are real, fake Dutch farmer accoutrements.

If you, Reader, work outdoors (whether it’s farming or forestry or plein-air paintings), what do you prefer for spring mud shoes?

3 thoughts on “Farm Shoes

    1. Good point, about half the world might answer “flip flops”!
      The mud can get pretty deep here. Like up to your ankles or deeper.

      Yes, I believe Dutch children put out their shoes for Sinterklas to fill, and if they have been bad, he fills them with straw. I wasn’t sure whether that was klompen or regular shoes, however, so I didn’t mention it.


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