Summertime on the homestead.  Peaches, tomatoes, and bare feet.

As a very small child, I never wore the “high top” shoes that a baby was “supposed to” wear to be orthopedically correct though those were beginning to lose favor even back then. I ran barefoot on our mostly untamed  and natural 10 acres in Florida.  Whether the weather was a hot summer day or cold frosty morning, I walked barefoot on prickly, pointed pine needle  mulch,  on the dirt driveway and the uneven, weed covered terrain while dodging snakes and creepy crawlies that hid beneath the tangled brushes.  It never occurred to me that I should cover my feet up. For the most part, I went barefoot, even as a small child all dressed up for  church!  Sometimes I would have sandals on  to comply somewhat  with proper decorum.  But, basically, I was always “shoeless.” For the most part, people were always  clueless why I was shoeless which left my dear grandparents wondering about “the wild child.”

It was quite a change when we moved here to Pasadena  and we kids would run around barefoot.  It was a “piece of cake” and less dangerous  but rather strange  to plant our feet on the civilized St. Augustine grass and cement sidewalks of Northwest Pasadena.  The “city kids” would make fun of us, repeatedly asking me  THE question  ” Why don’t you put on/wear shoes?” Probably thought to themselves “dang hillbillies.” Throw in braids, barefeet and a bonnet to boot and I know that  I was born 100 years too late.

Back in the pioneer  days (well, throughout history, for the most part),  folks (kids, mostly) didn’t wear shoes to play.    In fact, shoes were a luxury and only worn in snowy winter.     Children would run barefoot over the countryside and go barefoot  even into town.  They didn’t have to worry about broken glass like today and, of course, being thrown out of stores and being refused service.

Laura and Tom Sawyer  were not only saving money but healthier, too.

Researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, published a study titled “Shod Versus Unshod: The Emergence of Forefoot Pathology in Modern Humans?” in the podiatry journal The Foot. The study examined 180 modern humans from three different population groups (Sotho, Zulu, and European), comparing their feet to one another’s, as well as to the feet of 2,000-year-old skeletons. The researchers concluded that, prior to the invention of shoes, people had healthier feet.

Read article

In other cultures, like India, shoes traditionally are taken off before entering a house.  Visiting India a few years back, I felt right at home with this custom (love to go back one of these days!)   We stayed in local homes and loved every minute.

If you, like Laura, like to take off your shoes, care to share about your barefootin’ experiences (especially us city homesteaders)

The big challenge is that on the homestead feet can get mighty dirty.   So it’s always a good habit to rinse off your feet a couple times a day.  We have a hose right by backdoor (where the outdoor shower is).  One can easily rinse off filthy feet before going inside the house.

How to Clean Dirty Feet That are Black Due to Oil & Dirt

Black dirty soles can seem difficult to clean, however, using a few common household items can make cleaning dirty feet a breeze

Read article

:: Resources ::

Why Barefeet is Best for Children

Going Barefoot in Nature

Society for Barefoot Living


  1. JBB says:

    This is one of the things my wife and I used to argue about. I’m perfectly happy sending the kids outside in bare feet. She thinks it’s terribly dangerous and unhealthy. I shared a study that suggested that it’s healthier (something immune-system related as I recall).

    When I was young, a doctor suggested to my mother that she make me go barefoot to help the arches in my feet develop strength. I spent a lot of time in the back “yard” which was really rocks, gravel, and sand. Yeah, I occasionally scraped up or cut my foot. Yeah, I stepped on the occasional blackberry bush and had to pick thorns out of my heel. I never did step on a bee or a hornet though, which is what my wife is worried about in the back yard here.

    Native americans rarely wore anything on their feet. Leather wasn’t that plentiful, and (as I found) mocs don’t last terribly long on anything but snow. I enjoyed wearing mocs for a little added protection in more hazardous areas, and really missed that barefoot sensation after moving to the city.

    Recently I bought a pair of those “minimalist” sneakers. I adore the fact that I can feel the lines between the concrete slabs that make the sidewalk, and I can curl my toes over the edge of the curb and the steps. But I’ve found that all the years wearing heavy shoes have taught me to walk in a way that’s damaging to my knees — I have to be careful, because there’s not an inch of padding under my heel and I’ve gotten used to stomping down on my heel when I walk.

    Seems to me that we made shoes that weren’t very good for us, and then made the landscape better for the shoes.

  2. Nebraska Dave says:

    Anais, there is a family in my urban part of town that lives just across the street that would identify with your bare feet. Their family of 9 all go barefoot except for the Mom. They remove the shoes on the last day of school don’t put any on until the first day of school. It’s starting to rub off on my grandson who only wears shoes about half the time. Our house always has a shoe pile by the front door. Shoes come off at the door. It was just a habit from the country days when shoes came off in the mud room. Personally, I never leave the house without shoes and socks. I don’t know why. It just never felt right without shoes. I think it was from the country living which as a kid was running, jumping, climbing trees, checking out creeks with high weeds, playing in old derelict cars parked in the orchard, climbing on old metal farm machinery, etc. All had the possibility of harming the feet. We had lots of stickery weeds that would have caused great distress on the feet. So as a result, I just got used to wearing shoes and it stuck all the rest of my life.

    Have a great shoeless day.

  3. tomato gal says:

    I hate wearing shoes. I’ll wear them to work or the store but when I’m home they’re off. When I’m in the garden or the backyard messing around I’m barefoot. If my kids want to run around barefoot then its fine with me. When my oldest was small I had to take her to the Dr. to get a sliver out of her foot and he had a fit that I let her go barefoot. He said I was a poor mother and I needed to practice better hygiene. We didn’t go back to him.

  4. Maria says:

    When I was a child the doctor told my grandmother that “the child should weat shoes inside and run barefoot outside” Outside the ground massage the feet and inside on the flat floor feet needs some support. Wise doctor that made me happy!


  5. Dee says:

    I’m originally from Hawaii and we all remove our footwear at the door. WHY anyone would wear their shoes or flip-flops indoors has always been a mystery to me. Think about it. EVERYTHING you stepped on is being tracked into the house if you don’t leave your footwear at the door. Anyone visiting my home needs to remove their shoes at the door. I don’t know what they stepped on and I certainly don’t want it on my floors.

  6. Rhonda says:

    I WISH I could go barefoot! If I walk without shoes, it’s incredible painful. It’s like my whole foot is covered in stone bruises. It even hurts to stand in the shower. I’ve been told it’s either Neuroma, plantar faciitis or metatarsalgia but none of the treatments for any of those ailments helps at all. Guess I’m just stuck wearing Keen sandals and Crocs forever. 🙁 BOOOOOOOO.

  7. amy says:

    I don’t wear shoes even when I probably should. I tend to only put on flip flops to feed the chickens so I don’t get poop on my toes! My daughters both have dirty feet most of the time too. I came up with the saying this summer “The dirtier your feet are the better summer you are having.” They like to compare feet to see who had the better day sometimes! Another funny thing is if you have toenail polish the chickens peck your toes but if you don’t they tend to leave them alone. 🙂

    • Susan says:

      Amy, that’s so funny chickens will peck your toes if they are polished! =)

  8. Glenda says:

    I’m uncomfortable without shoes. It took a long time for me to go without socks. Inside, we wear shoes specifically for indoors. ALL shoes are left in the foyer or in the sunroom that have been worn outside. I have a sign in my foyer that reads, “Please let your shoes rest in the foyer – Thank You!”

    As Dee mentioned in her reply – whatever someone steps on outside needs to stay outside of my home. Think of the spit, dog/cat pee, roadkill, etc. that people walk on daily with their shoes then just walk into their homes with it – YUCK!

  9. Alice says:

    I was always barefoot as a child. Then work made me wear shoes. I got so tenderfooted that I could not stand any texture of any kind. I was wearing socks inside first now I can go barefoot inside still can not walk on rocks but working at it. I have always disliked shoes.

  10. Heather says:

    I just found a quote that I absolutely love. It is by Khalil Gibran and it reads like this: “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”.

    We get so wrapped up in our lives sometimes that we forget to enjoy the simple things of life, like the wind in our hair or the grass under our feet. I love going barefoot, but only on natural surfaces-dirt, grass, sand, wood, etc. For some reason pavement and asphalt feel horrible underneath my feet.

    Thank you for reminding me of some beautiful childhood memories of running barefoot through our yard and garden. I hope to get back to that soon.

  11. Jean says:

    I live in New Zealand and ALL the kids here go barefoot even to school if the school allows it. Many adults go barefoot at home, I’m 76 and am always barefooted in my house and garden. I’m sure it’s healthy and much better for one’s feet. If you start as a child your feet get toughened and you can walk happily on gravel and stones without pain.

  12. barefootinquisitor says:

    I was intrigued by the fact you going barefoot,i was wandering how you do it,i hate shoes too,just wandering if you dont mind us sharing and discussing our barefoot experiences.


  13. Christina says:

    I grow up in a village behind a river. Most of the kids there was barefoot and just wear swimsuits as clothes, because we played so much in the water. In my home my sister and I had the rule that wet swimsuits must be removed when we get indoor. We was also very often naked at home. Always after 8 o’clock in the evening, when we should be indoor, until after breakfast next morning. When we go to town or visit grandparents and like that we had jeans and t-shirt or put a sleeveless dress over the swimsuite, but always bare feet. A few times when we dress up they told us to take on nylon tights, but not shoes. In our school I think 90% of the pupils were barefoot. Always when I met my classmates we talk about it and say that the best of our childhood was that never have anything on our feet.

  14. Suzdae says:

    It is known that the Earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface. When you are in direct contact with the ground (walking, sitting, or laying down on the earth’s surface) the earth’s electrons are conducted to your body, bringing it to the same electrical potential as the earth. Living in direct contact with the earth grounds your body, inducing favorable physiological and electrophysiological changes that promote optimum health.

  15. Book Cereal says:

    isn’t it grand that you need no footwear of any kind when you sit down to read a good book?

Leave a Reply to Susan Cancel reply