My wife and I bought our first home in 1997. It was a wonderful home, a lovely three-bedroom with a great room that, when we first toured the home, had a big elk head mounted on the wall.

Despite the homeowner’s effort to include the elk in the sale, someone in my camp insisted the giant animal head be removed upon closing, despite the fact that I could have gotten miles out of “the rest of the elk is on the other side of the wall” joke.

When we moved into our house it was an exciting time, despite it being devoid of a giant elk head. But we didn’t have a lot of stuff. We began embarking on the exciting journey of what we would need now that we were homeowners.

We added the obvious things that you don’t have when you live in an apartment: a rake, shovel, lawnmower and the like.

But of all the things we got for the house, we omitted one very important purchase that I recommend all new homeowners make sure they have. And current homeowners — if you do not have this item, I bet you can think of times when you wish you did. Everyone should have at least one 5 gallon bucket.

I don’t know what you will need it for. I don’t know when you will need it. But you will. And it can be for a wide array of uses. Among the many ways I have put buckets to use over the past two decades:

  • Collecting water from a leak, giving me time to focus my panic on why water was coming out of our ceiling without being distracted with panicking about it pooling on the floor.
  • Helping me out while changing out the toilet thing inside the tank that makes the flush happen. Oh, like all of you know what it’s called.
  • Emergency possum storage. I admit this may be a rather small percentage of homeowners.
  • Step stool for changing a light I could almost reach.
  • Drum. Admittedly, this is one of my least favorite uses of the bucket.
  • Covering a spider that my wife really didn’t want to kill, because hey, spiders are great pest control. But she’d really like it to go do its job outside and so let’s just put this bucket over it until someone gets home who is cool with relocating it.

When we bought our second home in 2001, we had a pool, so we had several buckets. We would buy chlorine for the pool, and it often came in five gallon buckets. There does come a point where you can have far more buckets than you need. When we moved to our new house, I decided that the ideal bucket number is three. I stand by that proclamation. On a side note, I was really glad to have had a pool. My kids were 13 and 11 when we moved to a non-pool location and they are great swimmers who spent many of their childhood summers splashing around in the pool. That said, I am glad I have not had to clean a pool in five years, in particular in the middle of a super cold storm that is dumping tons of leaves in your pool all the while Mother Nature is laughing maniacally at your futile efforts to keep up.

I keep my buckets in strategic locations where they are always accessible. Well, I try to do that. They often get relocated when my son liberates one to go fishing or pitching his cast net. But as long as it makes it home, it is ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. Theoretically, I could use it to get a little closer and clean our elk head. If we had one.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mount Pleasant. You can e-mail him at scmgibbons@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike or at mikeslife.us.