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Buckets and Yokes

Like the people of ancient times, pioneers depended upon buckets to carry almost anything small enough to fit inside. Long ago, buckets were made from leather or wood. By the mid-nineteenth century, galvanized steel buckets provided a sturdy construction without the risk of rust.

A shoulder yoke moved the weight of the buckets from the fingers, hands, and arms to the shoulders which are much stronger.

Buckets carried milk from the barn, water from the well (or spring), and more.
"Pa and Grandpa had brought the syrup from the big kettle in the woods. They steadied the buckets with their hands, but the weight hung from the yokes on their shoulders."                                                   ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods 
Today we often think of oxen when we think of a yoke. A yoke joined two working animals at the necks to make work easier. The yoke enabled the animals to work together so they combined their strength and effort to complete the task.

A shoulder yoke also made work easier but for a man or woman. The shoulder yoke could be as simple as a smoothed, sturdy stick. Other, larger yokes have an area cut out for the neck. Both styles of yokes have notches near the ends from which buckets hang.

Yokes and buckets certainly made work easier for pioneer families.

~ Annette Whipple
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