Different jobs required different kinds of buckets. As a child I had a small tin bucket that I used in the sand pile with a small shovel. I remember seeing Mom or Dad leave the house with a coal bucket headed for the coal storage part of the garage to get more coal for the cook stove or heater. That was the signal for me to start yelling, "Give me a push!" on the swing.
When we moved to the farm I was delighted with my new lunch bucket. It was rectangular in shape, black in color, and contained a small thermos. I had to be very careful that the thermos did not get broken. Grandma packed a couple of sandwiches, an apple or peach, or a small jar of fruit to eat, and some cookies or cake. The sandwich might be of peanut butter, meat, sandwich spread, or creamy pimento cheese spread.
Our rural school did not have a well, so an older boy or the teacher walked to the neighboring house to bring a bucket of water to school. If the teacher did it, she hurried to get to school before the children did.
When Grandma went to milk the cows she grabbed a milk bucket. When she put milk in the cave to keep cool, it might be in a tall narrow cream can with a lid to keep out the mice or dirt.
When she went to gather the eggs she used a small galvanized bucket. When she returned to the house she might use a small bucket of water to wash the eggs with a rag if they were soiled. She carried a bucket of corn and a bucket of oats to scatter near the chicken house for the hens to eat. Another bucket contained water to put into the trough for the chickens to drink.
When it was about time for a meal, an enamel bucket was used to go to the windmill or pump to get cool water to use on the table for lunch. It was kept on the counter in the pantry with a tin cup to drink from. The bucket might have a dipper to use when filling a cup or glass.
Grandpa used a five gallon bucket to shell corn in to feed his stock, or he might break up a corn ear to feed the horses or cattle in the barn. He carried buckets of corn to dump over the fence to the hogs. He put buckets of water into a long wooden trough for them to drink. he might dip the water bucket from the large water tank where he watered the horses. That water was pumped by the windmill so it was handy to the hog lot. Sometimes he parked a load of corn in the hog pasture and filled buckets of corn to throw onto the ground for the hogs to pick up. That way he did not have to carry the buckets of corn to the hog lot. When Grandpa went to repair fence he put his tools in a bucket to carry along. When he came back he might have thistles, dock, or other weeds in it that he wanted to burn so they would not go to seed.
When sweet corn was picked or potatoes dug, a bucket was taken to the garden. When peas or beans were picked they were taken to the yard in buckets. We sat on the cistern in the shade west of the house to break beans and shell peas. When the cherries were picked in kettles or buckets we returned to wash and see the cherries in the yard or kitchen. Doing it in the yard saved the kitchen floor from being mopped when finished. Cucumbers were gathered in buckets prior to making pickles. When we gathered blackberries we went early in the morning to fill our buckets before it got too hot. I preferred a smaller kettle that I could carry over my arm. I often picked raspberries and gooseberries along the pasture ditches. I considered a bucket too heavy to carry. It took forever to fill and it was too clumsy to scale the banks. I was too short to get a bucket back to the house.
I had to carry corn cobs, picked up from the hog lot, to the house for Grandma to use to start a fire in the wood range. She also might use cobs to get a fire a little hotter. She had to know how to keep a fire at the right temperature for baking in the oven, which had a gage built into the door, which she watched.
When thrashers came to thresh the oats Grandma took a large wash tub of water out to the yard for the men to use for washing their hands outside. They might all wash in the same water or use a smaller pan to wash in, taking water from a bucket for each person. They were hot and liked the water to cool off before coming into the house to eat at the long table in the dining room. There was no air conditioning, so the windows were opened. The doors were left open. The screen door might be covered with flies attracted by the smell of food being cooked. A woman might swish a towel back and forth to keep flies from landing on the table. Of course a fly swatter was important. A trip to town was made earlier to get ice for their drinks. We made a bucket of iced tea, one of lemonade and one of ice water. The water was pumped from the well to fill jugs of water to send to the field. Everyone drank from the same jug, often having to spit out tobacco before drinking. The jug was set in the shade to keep the water cooler. Sometimes a boy rode a pony and carried a jug of fresh water to the field going from man to man to give everyone a drink.