Soapweed's Ranch Ramblings
The writings of a Nebraska Sandhills cattle rancher!

Things of the Pocket
Dec 21, 2003

It seems that the older I get, the more stuff I tend to pack around in my pockets. This "stuff" is always with me, whether working on the ranch or going to town to see the bright lights. My style of clothing is in a rut, as I always wear the same type of apparel. The newness and niceness of it is the only thing that changes if going to town is in the equation.

Western style shirts have always been my cup of tea, with the simplicity of snaps and pockets with snap-down flaps. In the left pocket, it is necessary to carry a pocket notebook which contains notations of significant daily jottings. Also in that pocket is a small calculator, which simplifies arithmetic at the sale barn, or in figuring rations, pasture bills, interest and what have you. Math was my favorite subject in high school, and I know how to do it on paper, but the calculator certainly makes it easier. An ink pen rounds out the contents of the left shirt pocket, and even though it is usually a give-away type with the local gas station advertising on it, one can last for a year pretty often.

The last few years, it has become a great convenience to carry a small cell phone in the right shirt pocket. A tower is less than three miles away from the southern border of our ranch, so we have pretty good reception over most of the place. My wife also carries a phone, as does the hired hand, so many steps are saved with this concession to the modern world. The only problem with the newer neater smaller phone is that often it gets sideways in the pocket and hard to fish out in a hurry, especially on the cold days with lots of outer clothing. Awhile back we were at Cabella's in Sidney, and there was a nifty little five-power telescope just slightly bigger than an ink pen. It is just the handiest little gadget to have along, mainly because it keeps the phone from tipping over. Also it is handy to look across the hills and see if the dot in the distance is a cow or a soapweed, or to see if the wheel on a windmill is turning.

Wrangler 936's are my blue jeans of choice. In the left front, the pocket contains a Leatherman, a cigarette lighter (I don't smoke, but like to have a fire-starter with me), and a steel toothpick enclosed in a small plastic case. The Leatherman tool has lots of things that help with daily ranching including pliers, wire cutter, a knife blade, awl, three sizes of regular screw drivers, a phillips screw driver, can-opener, file, and ruler (both regular and metric). Yet all these Leatherman conveniences are in a compact package of 4" x 1" x 7/16" that is easy to carry in a pocket.

In my right front pants pocket I carry another jack-knife. It is an inexpensive knife, but really handy. It is an Imperial Ireland Stainless brand that sells for about $11. It has a main blade just a little longer than 2 inches that is good for marking calves, also a leather punch and a serated blade that is handy for cutting twine off of hay balers and hay feeders. Other items in the right front pocket are Chapstick, my post office box key, and whatever loose change I have along. If I am in a bigger town and feel it necessary to take the keys out of the pickup, they are also in this location.

Around the ranch, I don't carry a wallet. If you ride a horse carrying one in your hip pocket, it is just about guaranteed that the wallet will work itself out and get lost.

In my coat pockets, there is usually to be found some glove-liners for when the weather gets chilly, along with a few fence staples and some pieces of cake to keep my horses friendly. Summer or winter, I always have leather gloves.

On the rare occasions when I weigh-in at the doctor's office, I try to console myself that I'm really not as heavy as the scale indicates. A lot of those extra numbers on the weight indicator are just the heaviness of the contents of my pockets.






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