Saturday, July 25, 2009

In Praise of Buckets

In the City, People carry Stuff in Grocery Bags, Shopping Bags, Backpacks, and Briefcases. Farmers and Gardeners carry Stuff too. We find Carrying Containers suited to the City too Flimsy and to Constraining for our Work here.

In fact, we have concluded we really can't be serious Gardeners or have a Little Farm without an Ample Supply of Buckets. We had a Stash when we moved from North Dakota in 2007 and we have guarded them carefully. Faithful Companions in our work here, they are 2 and 5 Gallon Size.

Our Choice would be the Old Time Metal Buckets, but those are not readily available. In these times, we choose Plastic for our own reasons, but I will talk more about that later.

At Richard's retirement, I suggested that 5 Gallon Buckets (Green) would be an appropriate and whimsical Send Off honoring Richard's new Roles and Responsibilities. We had had these for years; our Supply was reduced as they were wearing out and sometimes walking off. So, the Biology Department gave him (us) Beautiful Buckets as part of his send-off at his Retirement Celebration. I suppose only the 3 C's would call useful Buckets "Beautiful". But, they are indeed.

I have described below some background in our decisionmaking on Buckets. It comes from some years of Experience, but we are always up for learning more.

When acquiring Plastic Buckets, Food Grade is essential. Since Buckets will hold Food for Humans and Non-Humans, Buckets which have held Toxic Materials are not viable choices.

We are always keeping our eyes open for sources. Food Service Establishments (Restaurants, Cafeterias, and Grocery Stores) that deal in quantity Food Production on site are prime candidates.

The Local Grocery Store's Cake Decorating Section has 2 Gallon Buckets. The Buckets held Icing, which in some ways is a contradiction to our practice here since we don't use products customarily found in conventional Cake Icing. Those Buckets are usually thrown out.

You know how we feel about Landfills. Anything we can do to convert "Trash" into Useful Resources is important. That means the Resources from the Earth are extended. Further, Plastic is generally made from Petroleum. We do our best to reduce dependence on Petroleum Products; we surely have more to go here. For us, using Buckets rather than throwing them away is an important statement in slowing down Oil Dependence and not invading another's Homeland. Yes, we try to put our Views and our Values into Practice, rather than waiting for someone else to fix it. And yes, with the exception of these Fine Buckets, we try to minimize use of Plastic.

We are very grateful for access to these Buckets at our Local Store. At our request, a Family Friend who works there is holding Buckets for us until our Stash is sufficiently replenished. We have at least 1 person waiting in line behind us. She was just as excited about our discovery as we were.

Our Favorite Buckets are the ones that have Wire Bales for Handles. That little Plastic Tube-like Structure makes the Bucket very easy to carry. All Plastic Handles break too quickly.

Plastic Buckets do take special care. Plastic does react to Sunlight. Buckets which hold Water that Freezes will crack and split. Once we get a Bucket, we need to take care of it.

So how do we use them? We use them to gather produce of the Season: Beans, Onions, Potatoes, you name it. Richard uses them to pick Berries. Last Fall, Richard used them to Gather and Store Hickory Nuts.

Richard has one in the Shed that has Ash from the Charcoal Grill. The Ash will be added to the Garden Soil when a sufficient amount accumulates.

We keep Buckets used for Animals separate from those used for Humans. The Chickens know that when Richard is carrying a White Bucket that Food is on its Way. Needless to say, they love White Buckets. Sometimes we carry empty White Buckets. We get the same Response.

We have at least 5 in use for Chickens for Water (more on Hot Days)and 1 for the Cats and Laddie. Several are needed daily for Feed.

I like to sit on them to weed in the Garden and to pick Beans. Depending on the Task and the lay of the Ground, I will either choose the 2 or 5 Gallon Size.

I use them for Rain Water for Potted Plants, both inside and out. We have lots of Plants, so we go through a Lot of Rain Water. They are handy to carry Gray Water out to Trees and Shrubs planted during this Growing Season.

Those Buckets make Great Indoor Storage for Food for the Humans. In the Winter, we use 2 Gallon Buckets with Lids to store our Various Flours. In the Summer, Bugs are a problem. We put the Flours in the Freezer instead. Those Handy Buckets fit perfectly on the Lazy Susan in the corner cupboard. You would have thought the Lazy Susan had been made just for them.

We also use them as storage for Laddie's Food. Just like the Chickens, he is a quick study. He knows the significance of White Buckets in the Utility Room too.

As I am typing away on this Blog entry, Richard came inside looking for a Bucket. No, I did not make that up, nor did we orchestrate it. He is headed out to the Garden to pick more Beans.

Earlier today, I picked a Bucket full of Zinnias to take to Mother in the Nursing Home. The Buckets are ideal for Flowers. I can put 2 inches of Water which does not spill over in transport and the long Stems of the Flowers are supported by the sides of the Bucket.

While with Mother, I made a Bouquet for her. I made some other smaller Bouquets too. I told her that she could give the rest to special ones she knows. She had no problem coming up with Names. She especially wanted 1 of them to go to a Lady who doesn't get much attention from the Outside.

I also told the Charge Nurse that I could bring Buckets of Flowers off and on through the remaining part of the Summer and early Fall to the Nursing Home. Would they be interested? Yes, of course. Flowers (in their Buckets and vases and jars) make People smile. Over the coming days, you are apt to see me walking down those Corridors with a Buckets of Flowers to share.

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