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  • Writer's pictureDr. Stephanie Shelburne

The Real Bucket List

Lamb with bucket on his head
William's first Bucket

Yesterday morning at 6 a.m., I got a frantic call from our neighbor. The dreaded words "Your cows have escaped" echoed across the wavelength. Ugh! No time to sip that inviting cup of coffee; I jammed my feet into my wellies and flew out the door. Heading for the barn, I knew just the thing to grab.

Mimi and MooMoo have two shiny yellow buckets hanging on their stall door. They know when they see those buckets, they’re about to enjoy something yummy. It was then that I realized I had forgotten to restock their treat bin. Yikes! I put in a scoop of alfalfa pellets and hoped for the best.

The sun was just up. The morning was beautiful. The grass all fresh and dewy. And there, at the edge of the forest, were Mimi and MooMoo, enjoying the shade and whatever lush grasses they could find. It didn’t take long for them to realize I had buckets, and along they came. Unfortunately, alfalfa was not what they were in the mood for, so the first attempt was a major fail.

Two hours later, we had them back in the pasture and into their stall, happily munching something tasty from their buckets.

I made a note to myself that it should never have taken that long to get them to respond. Clearly, we had fallen off the bucket management wagon. So, Mimi and MooMoo went on the bucket list.

The buckets aren’t really anything special. Simple, sturdy, heavy-duty polycarbonate. We tried galvanized steel, but sometimes buckets must double as a step stool, and the poly just holds up better. We especially like to buy them in multi-colored five-packs because they brighten up the barn. Cute, functional, and wow—for such a simple object, they are the most amazing tool ever around the farmyard.

When dinner time rolls around, our two giant draft horses, Jack and Clyde, come running as soon as they hear their alfalfa pellets hit the bottom of the bucket.

The chickens and turkeys are equally excited by the presence of a bucket that may contain the coveted grubbly snack. They will follow you anywhere if they see you carrying a bucket.

Even the Abigails, who are afraid of virtually EVERYTHING, will pause when they see a bucket.

Our Border Leicester sheep, Ivy and Trillium, become a frenzied mob of two if they even suspect there is a treat bucket in the vicinity. Our adult Black Welsh Mountains, Nan and Florence, are a little more graceful, but just as excited by the existence of a treat bucket.

This afternoon, as I stood in the apple orchard trying to wrangle one of our new lambs back into the barn, I made a mental note: “It’s time to add the lambs to the bucket list.”

So, tomorrow we will start bucket training for our newest additions to the farm. Our lovely lamb, William, has just learned to appreciate the beauty of a bucket and its delightful contents, and soon his new friends will join in the fun.

Buckets really make life so much easier. And they are incredibly valuable in an emergency.

Maybe the next time you are adding something to your Bucket List, you could pop over to the farm and check out the Real Bucket List.

Farm Bucket List

  1. A simple, sturdy, brightly colored bucket

  2. The appropriate ingredients for optimal deliciousness for each barn inhabitant

    a. Make sure you always have your bins stocked up.

  1. Daily treat time to keep everyone interested.


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