Feed Buckets and Color Theory


Awareness of the outside world. “Lambda has been on our minds (see my last post here). Thankfully, and importantly, Lambda is fizzling out. Delta is far more dominant and pushing Lambda away as an imminent threat.” Your Local Epidemiologist: State of Affairs: August 16, 2021.

As my grandmother used to say, I am having an H of a time telling the difference between the feeding buckets. (Photo misleading. IRL, Crayola colors.)

We used to have a green bucket for Rodney and a white bucket for Milton. Rodney’s barn color is green. Milton is a large lump of white. Easy peasey. Feed for Milton goes in Milton’s bucket. Feed for Rodney goes in Rodney’s bucket. Go to barn. Feed Milton from his bucket. Feed Rodney from his. No hesitation. (BTW, due to fire ants, we keep feed in the house.)

Then the white bucket broke.

Store did not have white.

Bought a red bucket. Milton’s barn color.

Then the trouble began.

I am not red/green colorblind. I look at the red bucket and know that it is a red bucket. I know we have red as Milton’s color. Ditto green bucket and Rodney.

When I serve up the chow? I have to a stand there and think. This is Rodney’s food. Rodney is the … green … bucket. So his feed goes in that one. When I get to the barn, I have the same problem. I am feeding Milton. He is the … red … bucket. So I feed him from this one.

A bit of color theory, as I understand it. Micheal Pastoureau wrote a series of books recounting the histories of colors. In one of the books, I can’t remember which color, he says that, in the past, bright colors were seen as closer together that light and dark versions of the same color. In other words, bright red and bright blue were considered closer in color than light blue and dark blue.


Okay, context was different back then. Pre-synthetic colors were paler and softer. Maybe brilliant color was hard to come by, so it was seen as a important attribute. Also these days, we’ve had images of the color spectrum shoved in front of our faces since we were tots. Our brains are trained to organize colors according to the spectrum.

So, it was an historical oddity.

Or maybe not.

Maybe there is something to the ancients thinking bright colors were similar. In hue – what we think of as “color” – the two feed buckets are different. However, their colors are the same by every other measure: saturation, shade (amount of black), tone (amount of gray), tint (amount of white), shininess, and so on. Pick an attribute, aside from hue, they are the same.


OTOH, way more color theory that I want to reckon with when feeding breakfast.

Note to self. Buy a white bucket.

Stay safe. Stay sane.

6 thoughts on “Feed Buckets and Color Theory

  1. Yes, value and saturation make an enormous difference in how we perceive color (hue). Originally you had white (palest value) and blue (mid-value), then two of the same value. I get that.

  2. Being at a boarding stable, all the feed and water buckets were black. But for after-rides drinks and wash-water, I had brown for drinking water and blue for wash water. If my own barn, I would have had different colors for each horse.

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