The Hairy Legs of Summer

The really great thing about farming is that it brings up stuff in a way you do not ordinarily encounter in everyday, post-industrialist society.

Today I’m contemplating the issue of hairy legs. This is rather a big deal on farms. For instance, speaking from a sheep shearer’s perspective: one of the first evaluations I make before setting to work is the leg factor.

Sheep who have very thickly wooled legs are far more difficult to shear; the wool and hair get caked with dried mud, bits of manure, stick closely to the bony legs (yes, it’s sad but true – most sheep do not have particularly shapely calves), and it takes time, skill, and machine- and muscle-power to get that stuff off. I’ve seriously contemplated adding a hairy-leg surcharge to my fees.

On the other hand, you have the hair on alpaca legs – damned if the alpaca owners don’t want the hair to stay ON the legs, but fashioned and shaped in the best dog grooming salon fashion. I used to, admittedly judgmentally, think that this supercilious ‘stovepipe’ fashion was a supreme waste of time (OK, I kind of am still there) but in fact I’ve learned since my early upstart shearing days that both llamas and alpacas are tormented by flies in the summer, and having wisps (or poofs) of hair on their legs aids in keeping the bugs at bay.

The other day I was on a boat and I was observing the legs of my sailing companions. Admittedly, I was observing them because I was supremely self conscious about the fact that I had not addressed the hirsute state of my own limbs.

At one point, lying on the deck, I saw a pair of dark, curly-haired man legs go by. Thinking they belonged to my male companion, I almost reached out to fondly grab an ankle but fortunately, and just in the nick of time, realized these legs belonged to someone else.

Slightly troubled that I had misidentified body parts, I looked around. I looked hard. And I realized that the four men riding on this boat had IDENTICAL curly-haired legs. Their heads were varied: blonde, bald, grey, and black haired – yet on their legs: all dark curlicues. What is up with male leg hair? It doesn’t go bald or turn grey?

Frankly, as an American woman who was taught very early on that leg hair is The Enemy, it blows my mind that these men are not curled up in a fetal position in some corner worried about waxing.

It’s summer. It’s hot. While leg hair does not, contrary to popular belief, make us hotter, if you are a woman (and women, let me hear you say “hell yeah”) and you have hairy legs, you are more uncomfortable than if you were wearing underpants 2 sizes too small. This is not the case in parts of Europe.

Many years ago in a German swimming pool’s shower room, I whipped out a razor and there was audible whisper of shock amongst the German women; I seriously believe they thought I was about to do myself in. But back here and stateside, a woman with hairy legs in summer is NOT a woman you want to mess with. She is in a seriously bad mood and until she has had proper time and space to shave, wax and pluck, and gentlemen – I suggest you steer clear. [Note: this may save some of you some significant money in couples therapy – feel free to send a thank you check in the mail.]

Today, with baby-smooth, stubble-free legs, I, personally, am ready to conquer the world. Or at least go shopping with shorts on. Ladies, may the hot wax be with you.

Till next time,

Farmer Anne

Star Gazing Farm 501(c)3

A haven for retired farm animals and wayward goats