If you are building a homestead, it is virtually inevitable that you are going to find yourself out in the weather on more than just a few occasions. As such, and even more so in colder climates, it is equally imperative that not only your boots, but your weather gear and at least some of your clothes are waterproof.
There is no excuse whatsoever for not thoroughly water proofing any and every set of boots, if not shoes on the homestead. The constant exposure to the weather will ensure that even the best of leather boots are constantly inundated with water, very likely mud and perhaps other debris, much of which will work into the grain of the leather itself.
This cycle of wetting and drying the leather will not only weaken the seams, but also allow the leather itself to rot much quicker than it normally would. Good horse leather that is properly treated and water proofed can easily last for a hundred years or more. While boots may not be very likely to last a hundred years, they should be made to last as long as possible and water proofing will definitely assist in that regards.
Carharts and other cold weather and rain gear may claim to be water proof when they are purchased, but it is still never a bad idea to give them a good and healthy dose of some type of water proofing on the outside … in addition to what is applied by the manufacturers. While most people do not generally take the time, or even think about water proofing their work clothes, it may not be a bad idea to have some wranglers and some of those flannel shirts that have been worked with some sort of natural waterproofing as well.
Mind you, I would not toss these in with the regular wash when it came time to wash clothes, but even regularly worn clothes can be made less susceptible to foul weather with the proper treatment.
Leather can be used for everything from horse tack to stropping belts for sharpening blades to keeping the dog secured … saddle bags, jackets, vests, chaps, trousers, boots … and the list goes on to grow far too expansive for any single article.
There is a surprisingly large sampling of leather horse tack that is more than a hundred years old and in some cases, even more than two hundred years old … all of which has lasted in large part, because it was properly treated. Here then, are the top three natural means of water proofing anything and everything that will ever need to be water proofed.
Bees wax is by far one of my personal favorite means of waterproofing virtually everything. A friend of mine was fortunate enough to discover an old Cavalry “McClellan” Saddle that had never been treated with anything other than bees wax.
Now while the McClellan is without any doubt the most uncomfortable saddle I have ever had the misfortune of filling for any length of time, the fact that it was an original combined with the fact that due to the bees wax, it had retained the original color and turned out to be worth about ten times more than the comparable saddles merely because it had never been treated with anything other than natural bees wax.
Saddle bags, belts, boots and even some old cowboy dusters and hats are all items that will greatly benefit from a healthy application of bees wax. Furthermore, if you ever run out of light while you are working the bees wax in to your gear, you can also use it to make candles so there is no need to keep the home fires or the midnight oil burning so to speak.
Some people do not want to deal with all of the work involved with raising bees, some people are allergic to bee stings even to the point of deadly reactions and some people just prefer water proofing that is cheaper and easier to obtain than the bees wax.
Paraffin is readily available, inexpensive, and like the bees wax, can also be used for candles, for sealing mason jars and a list of other uses around the homestead. (Both paraffin and bees wax also make an excellent coating for both home made and store bought lead bullets)
Paraffin can be used on jeans, leather, and even some of the heavier flannel shirts in the same fashion as bees wax. If there is any drawback to the use of paraffin in the place of bees wax, it is that the paraffin can tend to clump up while it is being worked in to different materials, though a little bit of warming and this should be easily avoided.
Mink oil is a little more limited than some of the other available options, but it is very effective. It is important also to pay attention when buying it to make certain that it is natural mink oil. While the uses for mink oil may not be quite as diverse as those for paraffin and bees wax, the mink oil does work exceptionally well for water proofing, and in my personal experience, has not suffered too much from hand washed clothes when I want regular clothes that are more resistant when it comes to wearing them in bad weather conditions.
I would not use the washing machine to wash these clothes either, and certainly would not recommend washing them in hot water, but with a regular cold hand wash, the clothes can be made every bit as presentable as you will ever need them to be when you are out and about in the rain or snow. The mink oil is also exceptionally well suited for resisting the constant application of water and mud in boots, though it may require slightly more frequent applications than the wax or paraffin options.
At the end of the day, water proofing your clothes or weather proofing your leather tack and gear is not only about making it look good, but about making it last for longer and with less wear and tear in normal and bad weather environments. These options should give you everything you need to make certain that when you are out in the weather, you remain exposed as little as possible.