Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Fencing Bucket

 by Shanna Hatfield

During my growing up years on the farm, making fence repairs was a way of life.

Our cattle subscribed to the theory that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence and often leaned as far as they could through the wires to reach it. Which meant there were often repairs to be made.

My dad had an old canvas bucket that was stamped U.S. on it that he kept all the fencing tools and supplies in, like fence pliers, insulators, staples, wire stretchers, a hammer, pieces of barbed wire and the like. That bucket was always in the back of the farm pickup, along with a roll of barbed wire and half a dozen fence posts. If a fence needed to be repaired unexpectedly, anyone could do it without spending half the day rounding up the necessary supplies.

The bucket that carried the tools was worn and dirty, but still sturdy. It had a padded handle and the bottom of it had a heavy iron ring. The canvas had long ago gotten stiff.

I hadn’t given that bucket a thought in years until I was working on Rescuing the Rancher. There is a scene where Jossy has to repair a fence and returns with a canvas bucket full of tools. In that moment, I started wondering about that bucket. My Dad has since sold the farm and no longer needs to fix fences, so I’m sure the current farm owner inherited the old fencing bucket.

But I was curious about the bucket, so I started searching online.

I discovered the bucket had been produced during World War II as a collapsible water bucket. The canvas was waxed and these buckets were found on most WWII vehicles, often being referred to as a Jeep Bucket.

Since my grandfather wasn’t in WWII, it made me wonder where it came from. I finally got around to asking Dad the other day. He told me Grandpa brought it at an Army surplus store after the war was over, along with several other items. When Grandpa no longer needed it, he passed the bucket on to Dad.

Isn’t it neat how things you never really thought about as a kid can pique your interest as an adult and you discover they have a rich history?

You can read more about Jossy and her fencing bucket in Rescuing the Rancher.

What about you? Do you have (or recall) any interesting items you use at home that you never gave a thought to the origins?

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