Joyce Bupp, farm wife

We’ve all heard the reference about people having “deep pockets.”

The phrase generally refers to someone for whom finances are not a problem, someone with plentiful —some might say abundant — resources. With the proverbial deep pockets, having adequate money to live, buy and do whatever one wants is rarely an issue.

Farmers need deep pockets.

No, no, no ... it’s not because farmers are so financially well off. In fact, far too many farmers are anything but well off, as witnessed by the continuing outflow of farmers from the business, due to the financial crunch of ever-inflating input costs and continuing deflated commodity prices.

Still, farmers need deep pockets. If you don’t believe that, you’ve never cleaned out the shirt or jeans pockets of a farmer before tossing them into the washing machine for the removal of several layers of good country dirt, plus maybe a fair amount of oil, grease and all-natural, livestock-originated fertilizer.

Farmers need deep pockets to hold all their necessary “stuff.”

Nails. Screws. Fencing steeples. Battered pens which no longer write. Wadded up pieces of feed mill and hardware store receipts. Loose change left over from stopping for a late lunch while hauling cattle. Dusty handfuls of hay, straw and chaff bits. Small broken pieces of an undeterminable equipment part. A length of wire to help keep the pickup tailgate closed. And a crumpled candy bar wrapper. (There was probably a chocolate bar included somewhere on the hardware store receipt.)

And, no matter how carefully I search, a tissue from somewhere deep in the depths of a pocket never fails to elude me, and the dark jeans and flannel shirts go up on the wash line liberally dotted with small flecks of flimsy white paper.

Yep, deep pockets that can hold screwdrivers and flashlights, baler bolts and shear pins, are as necessary to farmers as socket wrenches, welders and a diesel tank on the back of the pickup.

Blue jeans-makers seem to know that farmers, mechanics, loggers, equipment operators, truckers and the host of guys who live in denim need to have pockets that actually hold something.

So, why are they short-changing us female farmers? Have the makers of denim-for-women not figured out that we also have need to cart around pocket knives to open hay bales, staples to refill the staple gun utilized for closing up drafty spots around the barns, flashlights for after-supper chores, a pair of gloves and a cellphone?

Purchasing new denim jeans is something I don’t do all that often. Not only do I dislike jeans shopping, but it’s rare to find a pair that fits even half as comfortably as the comfy ones going bare at the knees or with a patch on the backside where they connected with a protruding nail on a barn door frame. And, too many of the selections available are those “low-rise” types, which leave me feeling badly in need of a pair of suspenders.

The few new pairs of jeans I have acquired over the last couple of years suffer from a severe lack of pocket space. Like peanut butter or mayonnaise jars with “humps” in their plastic bottoms and twin-sized bedsheets that seem to have lost a couple of inches in width in recent times, blue jeans’ manufacturers apparently cut costs by shaving off inches of pocket space.

Weary of having jeans pockets so shallow that I was afraid to even put my car keys in them for fear of the keys falling out, I finally cut off the bottom of the pockets in one pair and added extensions of several inches. Not only do those deepened pockets now safely hold my keys, there’s also plenty of room for my cellphone, grocery list and any other small items necessary to carry along.

Recently, a friend stopped by with a bag containing a brand new pair of dress pants. She had purchased them, then realized they had no pockets and simply refused to wear pocket-less pants. I thanked her for the clothing gift, but didn’t have the heart to tell her that I also intensely dislike pants without pockets. One of the charitable thrift shops in our area will likely be the beneficiary of that brand new item of clothing.

Irritated by a new pair of sweatpants that are absent pockets (also a donation from a friend), I dug through some fabric scraps and came up with pieces of similarly colored fleece material. There was just enough to cut out two patch-type pockets and stitch one on each side of the sweats, solving that pocket-less problem.

Adding capacious patch pockets to a pair of sweatpants is easy; enlarging pockets on a pair of new denim jeans is just a pain in ... the pocket region.

And men, with their spacious pants pockets, still wonder why we women need purses in which to carry our stuff.

Joyce Bupp is a freelance writer in York County, Pennsylvania.