Water Closet for December 4, 2015
[pullquote]”Our colleague happily grumbled on and told us of carrying water in the winter, full bucket from each arm, out through narrow paths in the snow, his swinging tormentors banging against legs as water spilling over on pants quickly froze.”[/pullquote]The other day while visiting superb craftsman Carl Close, mentioned here several times before, an old Stream Teamer remembered a Water Closet piece written in November 2007 about wooden buckets. One of Carl’s many old time projects was making barrels, buckets and even the cooper’s tools to construct them with from scratch. After marveling again at Carl’s resurrected skills such as coopering and making wood and rawhide snowshoes as good as any Indian could, he found the following article about the common wooden buckets of his youth. While most wooden containers have long become parts of the soil, the memories of them haven’t and return each year when the first ice appears in plastic buckets.
WOODEN WATER BUCKETS ( November 2007 with modifications)
A walk down to the Ipswich River for a bucket of washing water on a Stream Team project got an old Closeteer going on about the wooden buckets of his boyhood on the farm. Some wag who’d heard this before quietly sang Louis Armstrong’s classic “My bucket’s got a hole in it” as background. For those of you who have never used anything but light plastic pails, a wooden bucket was like a small half barrel with a wire or wooden handle called a bail. It was made of about a dozen staves, wider on top than bottom, and beveled on the edges so that when put together they formed a round container held together by hoops of steel or wood; like an inside out wooden boat, only the ribs, hoops, were on the outside holding the planks in against the water pressure.
Those working buckets, used by him when a boy to carry water to several hen houses some distance from the faucet in the cow barn, were heavy and clumsy. If they dried the staves shrunk and seams opened up like in a wooden boat out of water. When picked up or accidentally kicked while very dry they sometimes fell apart. Maybe that is where the vulgar old phrase “kicked the bucket” for dying came from. Buckets, relatively valuable then, could be painstakingly put back together, resurrected, then filled with water that swelled the staves back against the hoops. Water logged buckets turned black with bacteria and fungi as they rotted.
Our colleague happily grumbled on and told us of carrying water in the winter, full bucket from each arm, out through narrow paths in the snow, his swinging tormentors banging against legs as water spilling over on pants quickly froze. The walk back after filling the chickens’ water buckets was a stiff legged slog . Buckets filled again, he was off to another hen house.
He, despite his old ways, praises modern five-gallon plastic pails. They are lighter, stronger and much cheaper. However, we notice he comes to life when telling about carrying man fashioned, not stamped out, containers. He had gotten down and dirty with mud, snow, manure, and thirsty chickens that he knew, fondly remembered, and wanted to lay on us. There would be no story from one who has only to turn a valve to send water through pipes to chickens rarely seen as in modern poultry factories where laying hens are confined to separate wire cells.
The old timer from farms with sand-floored hen houses, separate soft-hay filled nests, and in summer open grassy ranges is sure to rail against modern chicken and hog raising until he kicks the bucket.
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WATER RESOURCE AND CONSERVATION INFORMATION
FOR MIDDLETON, BOXFORD AND TOPSFIELD
|Precipitation Data* for Month of:
|30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches
|2015 Central Watershed Actual
|2.7 as of 11/23**
Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For Nov 29, 2015 Normal . . . 65 CFS Current Rate . . . 38 CFS
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru Oct..
**Middleton Stream Team is source of actual precipitation data for Nov.
Normals data is from the National Climatic Data Center.
THE WATER CLOSET is provided by the Middleton Stream Team: www.middletonstreamteam.org or <MSTMiddletonMA@gmail.com> or (978) 777-4584