35: The Battle of the Buckets

35: The Battle of the Buckets

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

The Battle of the Buckets

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.


Our family lives on a small hobby farm, which is home to a wide diversity of talents and interests. Two of the major ones happen to be my horses and Mom’s gardening.

Now, most of the time, Mom and I get along pretty well from our different worlds. We tolerate and respect each other’s talents and even occasionally help each other. Her garden makes excellent horse treats, and my horses manufacture top-quality mulch for her gardens and flowerbeds. We get along quite well on the same farm.

There is one area of conflict, however: Buckets.

Now, buckets are great little creations. These seemingly unassuming little characters can buckle down and get a whole lot of work done that we never could do on our own. Set upside down, I can use them to reach the top shelves in my barn, or as a makeshift chair or mounting block. Right side up, I can carry feed and water in them, haul things in and out of the barn (namely carrots and apples stolen from Mom’s gardens), and use them as wash tubs for my horse brushes . . . the list goes on and on. Mom has a similar list of the diverse uses for a bucket in her garden. Real workhorses, those buckets are.

I have several of these buckets in my barn—maybe twenty or so, to be precise. Mom also has twenty or thirty in her garden shed. We both know each and every one of our buckets by name, and if one goes missing, the two hundred feet of land between the barn and the garden shed turns into a war zone.

That was the reason I found myself one day crawling through tall grass and bushes to get to the garden shed without being noticed. A few of my buckets had mysteriously disappeared, and I had reason to believe that Mom had stolen them. The reason was that she had been accusing me the previous week of stealing her buckets. I argued that I would never steal her buckets—those new ones in my barn had just walked in on their own! I wouldn’t dream of stealing my own mother’s buckets!

So there I was, on a perilous secret to investigate the whereabouts of my precious buckets. I made it into the garden shed, shut the door firmly behind me, and took a look around. Aha! There, sitting innocently in the corner, were three buckets that clearly belonged to me. After a joyful reunion, I explained to my buckets that I would take them back to the barn to be with their friends. But I had a feeling the enemy was on the prowl, and we would need to be very quiet and nonchalant. We couldn’t risk getting caught.

I was halfway to the barn and feeling pretty good about myself when the first missile came in. It landed inches from my feet and was cleverly disguised as a rotten strawberry. I broke into a casual trot, and then a run, as the enemy’s voice rang out clearly: “Hey! What are you doing with my buckets? Those are mine! Stop, thief!”

I made it to the barn that time, but from then on, the location of the buckets became a constant battle. We started taking regular inventory of our buckets, and if one of them went missing in action, a desperate battle ensued. Accusations were hurled, ransoms were demanded, and once I even thought I saw my group of buckets huddled close together, squeezing their eyes shut and whimpering.

“This can’t keep happening,” I decided. So one day I met up with my mom and requested a parley. “The buckets and I are sick of all the strife, Mom. So I came up with a plan. How about if we say that all the buckets with handles are mine, and all the ones without are yours?”

This seemed perfectly reasonable to me, but the enemy was not impressed. Did I really think I could get away with that? Was this my idea of a joke? Did I not understand that all the buckets belonged to Mom, handles or no handles?

So we found ourselves at a stalemate. Neither of us would budge, and the war continued relentlessly. It still continues today; in fact, it may soon take the record for the longest lasting war. I need to look that one up. But first, I just saw Mom drive out the lane. I’d better go storm the garden shed and bring home the prisoners of war. While I’m out there, I might just take a few captives of my own.

~Hannah Yoder

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