A different bucket list

By Julie Carter, Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Everybody, everywhere has owned a bucket, used a bucket or needed a bucket. Buckets through the ages have played a part in the very fiber of our lives, including “kicking the bucket.”

We have the water bucket, milk bucket, mop bucket, slop bucket, coal bucket, ash bucket, grease bucket, feed bucket, lunch bucket, paint bucket and the ever popular, old oaken bucket. And a bucket of sorts, the chamber pot.

The ancestral poor-boy stories always include the lard bucket that became the lunch bucket. Lunch pail stories often include a long walk to school, up hill both ways and in the winter the sandwiches were frozen solid.

The bucket on the end of an old hemp rope strikes memories of a hand dug well providing the only water on the place. The littlest kid, because he fit the best, got the summer job of climbing down the ladder to clean the silt from the bottom of the well.

My recall is that it was important that your horse was “bucket” broke so that you could carry a bucket of something on him while in the saddle. Naturally, the feed bucket was his favorite and he preferred it in front of him, full of oats. One horse was named “Smart Bucket” although I’m not really sure what that was about, because he wasn’t.

The milk bucket was the starting point of basic education for many youngsters. Every summer, based on the high nutritional value of milk, one lad was assigned to milk the cow to provide a never-ending supply of fresh milk while visiting his uncle’s ranch.

The chore didn’t have obvious “cowboy” value to the lessons he wanted to learn about riding, roping and cattle work. Yet his uncle convinced him it was necessary to drink all this milk to maintain his strength and stamina to do the other work like fencing, punching cattle, and breaking colts.

At the end of the summer, his last assignment was to turn the milk cow out to pasture. It seems the uncle didn’t require the same nutrition during the winter.

Buckets are good for many things that don’t have anything to do with their intended use. Upside down to sit or stand on is the most popular.

At a recent down-home team roping that holds appeal to the “used-to-be” cowboy set, a couple of portly cowboys were at the back of the chutes waiting their turn in the arena.
Good friends, the pair have found different challenges in reaching the stage of their life where the spirit is willing but the knees are stiff.

One continues to ride a 16-hand rope horse because he always did, but now getting on him represents a mission impossible. In remedy, he totes a bucket wherever he goes to use as a step. His aging buddy finds the frequent need to sit down on something, anything, whatever is near and the bucket provides nicely for that as well.

The roping announcer called a name, putting one of them into action.

“Rusty, get up. I need my can.”

“I just got set down here. I can’t get up that quick,” Rusty replied.

Call two from the announcer.

“Rusty! Get up. I’ve got to go rope. They’ll turn my steer out.”

“I’m trying,” Rusty said. “Give me a hand here. My knees aren’t working too good. This can is pretty comfortable.”

During an understanding pause from the announcer, who had been clued into the situation, the bucket was vacated and then used by its owner to climb aboard his horse.
As he backed in the box, they gave call three and Rusty … well, Rusty had already settled back into his sittin’ position on that handy bucket.

There comes a time in life when just everything looks like it needs sat on.
Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com