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CDLXXXVI

20,000 Cows!

Two Dollars A Day.

There once was a farming family that was very poor
because they owned 20,000 cows.

Homer Buckyball the III was the father.
Thelma Buckyball the First was the wife.
Benny Buckyball the son.
And Ju Ju Buckyball the daughter.

Together they worked very hard
looking after the 20,000 cows in their dairy:
feeding them, keeping them safe and comfortable,
seeing to it that they were healthy
and happy (if not always wise).

The Buckyball family bought the best feed
money could buy for their cows,
piped in the freshest water available,
hired only the very best herdsmen to look after them,
and only the very best milkers to milk them,
including the very best milkmen to sell in town the milk
their 20,000 cows produced every day
(for Homer Buckyball the III liked to keep his hired hands
as happy as if they had been just more of their cows).

Well, happier than his own family, that's for sure,
because Homer Buckyball's family didn't think
the family business was doing too well,
generous as he was to his cows and his hired hands:

Every one of the Buckyballs's 20,000 cows
gave them one full bucket of milk every day
... which the Beckyballs's milkmen sold in town
for a buck a bucket of milk.

And, true, that was 20,000 bucks there,
if you weren't counting--certainly no chicken feed.

The problem was that once the Buckyballs paid off all
their excellent milkmen, $5,000,
and herdsmen and milkers, $5,000 more,
and all their other hired hands (including
their excellent cow chip collectors, another $1,000,
and another $1,000 for cattle feed,
$1,000 more to pay the water and electric bills,
as well as thousands more for pasture rights,
property leases, taxes, insurance
... and throw in food and clothing for the Buckyballs themselves,
including shoes, schools, dentists and doctors,
and a little girl who came along once a month selling cookies
to save the earth from something or other)...

And, well, after paying everything and everybody
that had to be paid
the Buckyball family always seemed to be left with
round about only two bucks even American money net profit
from all those 20,000 cows of theirs
--and that was on their good days!

And no matter what anybody tells you, it's tough
for a family of four to live on two dollars a day
--No matter how many cows you own.

Monopoly And Simple Math.

Money worries didn't bother Homer Buckyball the III much,
though, for he was a simple man, with simple needs.

Ah, but, "I need this and I need that," Benny Buckyball told
his father, Homer Buckyball the III.

And, "I need one thing and I need the other thing!"
Ju Ju Buckyball told her father after her brother.

And, "You fool," Thelma Buckyball, his wife, also told him:
"We are not making any money!
Oh, why did I have to marry a man who
doesn't know the secret of success!"

"What secret is that?" Homer Buckyball the III asked
his wife Thelma Buckyball, although he didn't really mind
as much as his wife
that he wasn't in on the secret:

The important thing to him was that he, Homer Buckyball the III,
owned 20,000 cows (and nobody else
around those parts owned even one).

"Well, of course nobody else owns any cows!"
Thelma Buckyball said to him; "Why should they?
They've got you working the cow end of things for them.
And for only two bucks a day!"

Homer Buckyball the III never quite understood
what she meant by that. Surely, he reasoned,
surely even his wife must have realized that owning 20,000 cows
was better than not (owning them):

"Simple math!" He would boast, for Homer Buckyball the III
was a simple man, and very simply... proud of it.

"Oh!" Thelma Buckyball would fume and stomp about furiously
every time Homer Buckyball the III came out with
his simple math:

She knew that her husband was one of those good fellows
who just likes to live his own life as it unfolds
in front of his eyes, and wasn't the sort to go nosing about
trying to find the secret of success
(which was obviously hidden away somewhere by the side
where one had to look long and hard for it)...

There was nothing Homer Buckyball the III loved more
than getting up in the morning to the music of 20,000 cows
mooing out in the corrals all around their farmhouse.

"That's because you don't have to go through those pastures
on your way to school every morning, father!"
Complained his daughter, Ju Ju Buckyball.

But, "That's why we hire only the best cow chip collectors
money can get, honey!" Homer Buckyball the III
was quick to point out (although that wasn't
what Ju Ju Buckyball would have preferred to have
pointed out to her during breakfast).

The Lost Cows.

Then one day something funny happened
to the Buckyball family:

Apparently half of the Buckyballs's excellently paid cow herders
forgot to shut half the gates that kept the 20,000 Buckyball cows
safe during the night... and round about half of all
their 20,000 cows were lost (that being some 10,000 of them
if you're keeping count):

"You sure they're gone?" Thelma Buckyball asked
her husband, Homer Buckyball the III.

Homer Buckyball the III scratched his head,
scratched his chin, and, "Oh, I'm reasonably sure
we've lost about 10,000 of them,
for there were round about 20,000 cows out there
when we went to bed last night, and now there's only
round about half as many."

 "Well," she asked: "Have you looked for them?"

"Oh, I'm reasonably sure I have," said Homer Buckyball the III:
"High and low! But they're not down at the valley.
And they're not up in the hills either--They're lost all right!"

"Well," said Thelma Buckyball, really annoyed:
"Did you look under the bed?"

But that had been one of the first places
Homer Buckyball the III had looked (since it was
so close to where he'd gotten out of bed that morning):

"And there wasn't a single cow hiding down there?"
His wife asked him with a smirk in her face.

"Oh," Homer Buckyball the III was about to answer her: "Oh--"

"Shut up," she interrupted him: "I have to think about this."

Thelma Buckyball thought and thought,
while she was making breakfast for their children
Benny and Ju Ju Buckyball,
but it was getting pretty near milking time already,
and like all farmers, the Buckyballs knew
what had to be done first:

"First the milking, then the thinking,"
Homer Buckyball the III told his family:
"We'll give it some more thought
--later," (to see if any of it made any sense),
"If we have the time."

The one thing they did find the time to think about
was that with half the number of cows as before
it was a sure bet they would see their profits cut in half
(and if it had been hard to make ends meet on two bucks a day,
it would certainly be no picnic stretching ends
on just one single buck a day)...

"Oh," Thelma Buckyball moaned at the thought
(it was her thought, for Homer Buckyball the III
had better things to be doing than think about... anything).

"At least go tell the hired hands that
today we'll only be needing half as many of them as usual,"
Thelma Buckyball said to her husband.

Homer Buckyball the III went out to greet the herdsmen
(who were just coming in for work that morning,
as they usually did every morning), and he let them know
that he would only be needing half as many of them
to bring in the cows to be milked that day
as he needed most other days
(when he'd still had 20,000 of them):

"Have you seen them, by the way?"

And not by the way, unfortunately.

Then he waited to tell the milkers
(who were already coming in behind the herdsmen)
that he would only be needing half as many of them that day
as well. And they too had no idea where half the cows were.

And he told the cow chip collectors
who came in after the milkers (since, obviously,
there would only be half as many cow chips too),
that only half of them would be needed that day.

And, no, they themselves never saw the cows, but
they were certain that there were only half
as many cow chips as usual.

And so too with all their other hired hands
... the ones who loaded and unloaded the buckets of milk,
and the ones who washed and scrubbed the buckets clean,
and the ones who fed the cows, and all the other ones
... only half as many of whom were hired that day.
(Homer Buckyball the III told them all
that if they saw their lost cows
to please send them home straightaway.)

Obviously, the hired hands were disappointed
(especially those who lost their jobs).
But what could they do about it?

Every one of them could see that the Buckyballs had indeed
lost half their cows during the night
... and so half of them went home to wait for better times
or to look for other jobs and cows.

The Half Is Better Than The Whole.

"This will ruin us," lamented Homer Buckyball the III.

For, according to his simple math, at the end of that day
when only those half as many milkmen as usually
went into town to sell his milk... returned
from selling their half as many buckets of milk in town
as they usually sold
they would surely come in with
only half as much money as usual.

And that meant only one dollar's worth of profit
for that day's 10,000 buckets of milk
... instead of the usual two bucks they got
for the 20,000 buckets of milk they usually sent to be sold in town
(back when they had had twice as many cows as now).

"Yep," no doubt about it, Thelma Buckyball agreed
with her husband: "This probably means our ruin!"

Going to school that morning,
Ju Ju and Benny Buckyball were very sad indeed,
knowing the quality of life they had known until then
was about to be cut in half
while skipping around the cow chips
(even if it was twice as easy to do this that morning
than any other morning before).

Only, at the end of the day, when the milkmen came back,
instead of the $10,000 the Buckyballs had expected
them to bring back with them
from the sale of the 10,000 buckets of milk
they had taken to town that day, they brought back
fully the same $20,000 dollars in good ole American money
which they normally brought back when they had
taken their 20,000 buckets of milk to town before!

"What happened?" Thelma Buckyball
wanted to know: "How can that be?"

"Was it a miracle?" Homer Buckyball the III
asked the milkmen.

"Get the money!" said
Benny and Ju Ju Buckyball to their parents.

The milkmen explained that as soon as the townspeople heard
that there would only be half as much milk to go around
that morning... they quickly bid up the price of each bucket of milk
from the usual one buck per bucket of milk
to two bucks a bucket of milk!

"Wow!" Said Benny Buckyball, counting up the money:
"Yep, it's all here: 20,000 bucks!"
Same as when they'd had 20,000 cows!

Ju Ju Buckyball took the money from her brother's hands
and counted it herself--It was all still there too!

And, instead of the one dollar's worth of profit
they had expected to make that day,
with only half as many cows
... the Buckyballs actually made hundreds
and hundreds of times more profit instead
--The kids counted it twice and added it up
any number of ways, but still it always came out that way!

Being a simple man, Homer Buckyball the III just
couldn't understand how it could be possible.

Well, actually, it was because with only half
as many hired hands to pay
... only half as many herdsmen, and milkers
and cow chip collectors and every other kind of hired hand,
and their water and electric bills cut in half,
as well as their feed bill too, and every other kind of bill
... and exactly the same money coming in as before,
this meant that the Buckyballs were a lot better off
with only 10,000 cows
than they had ever been with all 20,000 of them!

"My goodness," marvelled Homer Buckyball the III,
"it doesn't make any sense! Does it?"

"Maybe not," said Thelma Buckyball,
"But it sure makes a lot of money!"

Homer Buckyball the III couldn't figure it out,
though he thought and thought as hard as he could...

"Never mind thinking so much," said his wife
Thelma Buckyball, showing him the stack of money
they had made that day
--And it was a fat bundle of cash, all right,
even after they had paid all their bills and hired hands!

The Buckyballs danced around their farmhouse that night
like a royal family, for in that one single day
they had made more money
than any Buckyball had ever made
in all the years they'd been trying to make money
since they could remember beginning to make money
... and not even in their best money-making years, either!

"I think I will go to bed," said the really puzzled
Homer Buckyball the III, "before my head bursts!"

Half Again Is Better Than The First Half.

Homer Buckyball the III was half along his way to
getting himself to bed, when his wife, Thelma Buckyball,
fanning her chin with that wad of money,
suddenly got a thought in her head:

"You know," she told everyone, "I think
we might be even better off
losing a few more of those cows!"

"What a horrible thought!" Said Homer Buckyball the III,
feeling as if she'd just kicked him on the seat of his pants;
for his whole life had always centered around caring for cows
--he loved the critters--
And he couldn't think of a worse thing to do to them
than losing them!

Homer Buckyball the III just couldn't imagine
ever doing anything which might harm them:
Losing 10,000 cows was one thing,
but getting more of them lost on purpose
was too much for him:

"No! Absolutely not!" He told his wife
Thelma Buckyball: "It goes against my nature!"

This business of making more and more money
with fewer and fewer cows
sounded like black magic to him,
the work of the Devil if they asked him.

But, Devil or not, his wife Thelma Buckyball was
not to be denied--Nor was she about to ask her husband's opinion
on a matter she obviously knew a lot more about.

And, "Well, let's try it at least," Benny Buckyball said
to his father, taking his mother's side
(for he'd heard that a more complicated math in school
was replacing his father's simple math).

And, "Here we've lived all our lives getting less and less
the harder and harder we've worked,"
said Homer Buckyball the III's wife Thelma Buckyball:
"And not knowing why. Well, maybe, just maybe,
we have finally backed ourselves into the secret of success
without even realizing it!"

"That's right, father," Ju Ju Buckyball also added
her vote for booting out more of the cows.

And even though Homer Buckyball the III strongly objected,
he couldn't go against his whole family... simple math.

So that night, before going to bed, out he went
into their south cow corrals, where half of the half
of the 20,000 cows they still had left were corralled
... and, painful as it was, Homer Buckyball the III left the gates open
(this time on purpose)
so they might lose even more cows during that night.

Then he went back to the house, sadly,
and, still as sadly, went directly to bed.

"Hurrah!" Cried Thelma Buckyball the next morning,
rousing up Homer Buckyball the III out of a nightmare
in which he was letting more and more cows
slip through his fingers:

"Our prayers have been answered!" She told him,
"for I have just come back from our cow corrals
and we must've lost at least half of the cows that were out there
when we went to bed last night."

"You mean we only have 5,000 cows left of our original 20,000?"
Homer Buckyball the III asked his wife.

And, when the answer was yes: "What am I going to do?
What am I going to do?!" Homer Buckyball the III cried sadly,
before heading out for the kitchen to get his breakfast.

"Well, father," Homer Buckyball's children comforted him:
"Whatever you do, don't look for them!"
Since they at least intended to see their experiment through
to the bitter end.

Soon the herdsmen came in to begin working as usual
(even if there were now only half as many of them
as when there had been 20,000 cows in the Buckyball dairy),
intending to herd in the remaining 10,000 cows
they expected to find out of the corrals.

Only there weren't 10,000 cows in there any more
but just 5,000 of them:

So only half of the herdsmen who reported for work that day
were needed to bring in the cows to be milked
(and the other half were sent home without work at all).

So too with the milkers, half of whom were also told
that there would be no work for them that day.

And so too with the cow chip collectors,
milk bucket handlers, and every other kind of hired hand
that normally worked at the Buckyball dairy:
that day only half as many were hired as the day before.

Including too the milkmen who sold
the Buckyballs's buckets of milk in town (naturally,
their number again cut in half)... though not all that easily,
for selling milk in town was all the work they had
and few of the half of them who were let go went quietly
and without saying a couple of rather nasty things
about Homer Buckyball's new way of doing business.

But, sure enough, just as before,
even though there were only half as many
buckets of milk to be sold, when the milkmen took
their (now only) 5,000 buckets of milk into town
they again found that the townspeople were so eager to get their milk
that they again doubled the price they were willing to pay for it.

"The children certainly have to have their milk,
you know," said the townspeople,
apparently finding the price (even at $4.00 a bucket)
still low enough for them to snap up all 5,000 buckets of it
without much of a protest:

"And cheese?" Went the cheese-makers and cheese-lovers:
"How are we expected to make our cheese without milk?"

Not to mention the butter-churners,
and the ice cream makers,
the milk shake lovers and the pancakes enthusiasts
--all certainly were there--
and even those who opted for a cold bowl of cereal at breakfast
... all the cake makers and the bread bakers also showed up
more than eager to pay $4.00 (or more) for all of the milk
they could get their hands on!

So when the milkmen returned to the Buckyball farm
that evening, what they brought with them was not $5,000
for the 5,000 buckets of milk they took with them into town
that morning, and not even the $10,000 one might have expected
either, but the same old $20,000
they had always brought back with them
even when they had taken 20,000 buckets of milk to sell in town
... only now they got those $20,000 for only 5,000 buckets of milk!

And since now they only had one quarter as many milkers
and herdsmen and milkmen to pay,
as well as every other kind of bill
(and only a scant 5,000 cows to feed as well)
... the Buckyballs were becoming richer beyond their wildest dreams,
as they kept a bigger share of the $20,000 they were still getting
every day without fail for their milk.

The Secret Of Success.

"What fools we've been!"
Thelma Buckyball told her husband:
"No wonder we have been poor all our lives
--Only a genius could have found out that the secret of success
lay in cutting our loses by losing our cows!"

"I don't know--" Admitted Homer Buckyball the III.
But, of course, the Buckyballs were just simple people,
far too simple to have thought of it themselves.

"What are we going to do now, mother?"
Ju Ju Buckyball asked her mother.

"Yes," her brother Benny Buckyball seconded his sister:
"We certainly can't miss this chance that
has come our way by chance..."

"And we won't!" Cried out Thelma Buckyball:
"Now that we have finally discovered the secret of success
--we are going to milk it for everything it's worth!"

"You don't mean?!?" Cried Homer Buckyball the III
as if he'd been stabbed.

"Yes I do!" Thelma Buckyball interrupted his cries:
"That is exactly what I mean:
We are going to get rid of more of our cows.
We have far too many of them
for them to make the kind of money I want
them to make for us!
Those 5,000 cows are eating us out of house and home!
And we are going to go on getting rid of our cows
until something gives or we get everything!"

It already was giving Homer Buckyball the III a great pain,
since he just couldn't imagine getting up in the morning
and not hearing thousands of cows mooing out in the corrals
all around the farmhouse:

"But wife," he tried to talk her out of it: "Think about this
--Those cows are not just property!"

"They're also not our nieces and nephews, either,"
said Benny Buckyball to his father.

"Yeah," Ju Ju Buckyball told her father:
"They're just... cows, you know!"

"Very well," said Homer Buckyball the III,
seeing that he could not out-vote his whole family:
"What do you want me to do?" (Simple math.)

"We still have five corrals full of cows," said his wife,
rubbing her hands excitedly (just dreaming of
how much money they were going to make):
"So tonight... go out and leave at least four of them open."

"Four?" cried Homer Buckyball the III in shock:
"But that's not cutting our cows down by half!
If I leave four of our five corral gates open
we'll lose 4,000 cows for sure!"

"Good!" Said his wife: "That's my plan:
With 4,000 cows gone that will leave us only 1,000 cows
--Just think of the money we'll make
by losing those 4,000 cows!"

And then she laughed and danced with
her children, just thinking about it!

"Yes," said Benny Buckyball (who was the math genius
in the family): "Now we'll be able to sell our milk
for $20.00 a bucket!"

"The townspeople will never pay $20 for a bucket of milk!"
said Homer Buckyball the III, horrified at the idea of
asking $20.00 for a bucket of milk that only two days ago
was selling for one measly buck.

But, "How do we know they won't
until we find out?" His daughter Ju Ju asked him.

And, not being a fortuneteller, Homer Buckyball the III
found it hard to argue with his daughter
that he could predict what price the townspeople might
or might not be willing to pay for their milk.

So off went Homer Buckyball the III into that still mooing night
outside their farmhouse
to do the thing he would have never dreamt he would ever be doing
... trying to lose as many of his beloved cows as
could find their way out through the four of the five corrals' gates
he was going to leave open for them!

Sure enough, that following morning,
as soon as the sun came out, the Buckyballs found
that they had lost 4,000 more cows during the night
and now had only 1,000 cows left in
their one remaining cow corral...

Oh, how they danced around the room at the good news!

For now they could cut the number of hired hands
not by half as they had done the day before
but by four of every five.

And even though they only sold 1,000 buckets of milk
to the townspeople that day,
the townspeople paid them $20 per bucket of milk.

So they still made $20,000 with only 1,000 cows
to house and to feed
instead of the 20,000 they had originally started out with
(not to mentions all those bills and hired hands
which were also cut and cut again).

"Ah, wife," Homer Buckyball the III told his wife:
"This is going so good I don't doubt in years to come
we shall become very, very wealthy!"

Why Wait For Success?

"But, husband," Thelma Buckyball said to her husband,
for she had other ideas in mind:
"Years and years seems a long wait to me,
especially when we could speed up the process
... a thousand times."

"You don't mean?" asked her husband Homer
Buckyball the III: "You don't mean you want to
get rid of more cows?"

"If 1,000 cows are five times better than 5,000 cows,
then 100 cows should be 10 better than 1,000 of them!"

Homer Buckyball the III wanted nothing whatever to do with it
any more--It had always sounded a bit preposterous all along,
and now it was actually starting to sound crazy!

Maybe his wife was getting touched
in the head by so much money.

But Thelma Buckyball assured her husband
that the only reason it sounded crazy to him
was because he was just a simple man, and thus
could not understand the beauty, the elegance
of higher achievements of the intellect:

"Trust me on this one, husband," she assured him:
"I know what I'm doing.
You just go out there and make sure
that we lose 900 more cows tonight,
and then leave everything else to me."

Well, Homer Buckyball the III didn't know what was what
any more, but as long as things were working out so well
for his family--what could he do?
He hadn't an opinion to stand on.

So out he went that night
and made sure that enough gates were left open
so that at least 900 more cows were lost.

Next morning there were only 100 cows left
--It certainly shocked the milkers and the herdsmen
and the milkmen (who still thought they had a job
and so showed up for work the next morning);
but Thelma Buckyball ordered most of them home;
and, now that there were only 100 cows left,
only a tiny handful of milkers and
an even smaller number of herdsmen and milkmen
had work enough to work the cows that day.

With only 100 buckets of milk to
sell to the townspeople that day, Thelma Buckyball made sure
she told the milkmen not to sell any of them
for less than 200 bucks a bucket.

"No one will pay that!" Said the four or five milkmen
who were still left working for the Buckyballs.

But, "Just do as I say," said Thelma Buckyball to them
and then she sent them off into town
with their 100 buckets of milk.

Oh what a long wait it was for the Buckyballs
... until the milkmen returned from the town:

Homer Buckyball the III was sure not a single bucket of milk
had been sold that day, "Not at $200.00 a bucket."

But Thelma Buckyball was more confident,
she just fanned her chin with the wads and wads of money
they'd made so far, and laughed at her husband's doubts.

Sure enough, when the milkmen came back from town,
they came back with $20,000 again, for
as hard as it is to believe, there were still enough people in town
rich enough and in need enough of milk
that they were even willing to pay 200 bucks a bucket for it!

And now that the milkers and the herdsmen
and the milkmen that the Buckyballs still had to pay wages to
were such a small number, practically all of the $20,000
they got for their milk that day went directly to them as profit!

Rich At Last!

"We've rich! We're rich! We're rich!"
All the Buckyballs danced that night!

 "We're rich now!" Cried Homer Buckyball the III.

But, "Not quite yet," said Thelma
Buckyball, that look in her eye again...

"No," protested Homer Buckyball the III:
"No more! Not this time. We're getting $200 a bucket of milk now
--How much more do you think the townspeople will pay
before they come over here and kick us in the butt?"

"Nonsense," she said: "They're not going to kick us anywhere
--They need us more than we need them.
And if they can pay $200 a bucket of milk,
why not $400... or even $2,000?"

"$2,000 dollars? Are you mad, wife?"
Cried Homer Buckyball the III.

"Maybe, but think about this: If they did pay us $2,000
per bucket of milk, then we'd only have to keep 10 cows
to make the same $20,000 dollars
we were making when we had 20,000 cows
and a whole country full of hired hands:
And with ten cows we wouldn't need any hired hands at all,
the whole $20,000 would be ours!"

It was true that if they only had to house and feed, milk,
and sell the milk of ten cows
... they could probably do it all themselves,
and that would mean that, except for a few minor bills,
they could then keep the full 20,000 dollars
all to themselves:

       "Now isn't that worth a try?"

And even though it sounded impossible to him,
even a little crazy,
the gains indeed would be so large
that Homer Buckyball the III had to at least give it a try
--If only so his wife wouldn't spend the rest of their lives
going on and on about all they might have had
if he'd only listened to her.

So off went Homer Buckyball the III into the night again,
and when he had lost all but the last ten of his cows,
he closed the gate and came back into the house again:

"The deed is done," he told his wife sadly:
"All but ten of our cows are lost!"

And then he went to sleep, certain
it would all be a total failure the next day
and nobody would buy a drop of their milk

--Who would be rich or foolish enough to
pay $2,000 for a bucket of milk?!

Next day, his wife let go the last of the hired men,
and they themselves herded and milked the cows
and they themselves
loaded up the ten buckets of milk into their wagon
and then they themselves drove their milk wagon into town
to sell their ten buckets at $2,000 each.

"They shall stone us, you shall see!"
Homer Buckyball the III told his wife all the way there:
"They shall run us out of town and drown us in
our $2,000 a bucket milk--Just wait: You shall see!"

But, "I know what I'm doing," his wife
told him: "Just be quiet and drive."

Into the town they went then,
right up to the marketplace at the center of town
... every inch of their way there Homer Buckyball the III
fearing for their very lives.

A really ugly crowd was already there,
as if waiting for them, too.

Trembling, Homer Buckyball the III pulled his wagon in
and, shaking even worse, he started to unload his
precious ten buckets of milk...

A huge man approached him:

"Whoa there!" The huge man cried to Homer: "A steady hand!
Or you'll churn that milk right down into cheese!"

For, surprise of all surprises, the huge man turned out to be
one of the leading citizens of the town, and rich enough
to offer to buy a bucket of milk--at whatever price Homer set.

  "$2,000 dollars!" said Thelma Buckyball.

And, "Sold!" said the huge man, paying in cash, in full,
and then signalling for his servants to come fetch his
$2,000 bucket of milk home... carefully!

Immediately nine more rich persons came forward
and picked up the other nine $2,000 buckets of milk
like they'd been purchasing penny candies.

And ten more rich men asked Homer if he had more milk to sell
before going away disappointed that they couldn't buy any
more buckets of milk... not even for the 4, 5, 6,
or even 7,000 dollar-a-bucket of milk
they would have gladly paid them!

Boy was the ride back home a pleasant one
for Homer Buckyball the III and his wife Thelma Buckyball!

"You see, husband," Thelma Buckyball told her husband:
"You should have trusted me more!
I told you I knew what I was doing!
This is the wave of the future:
'You pay more and you get less'
--We're simply getting there ahead of everybody else!"

"I shall never doubt you again!" Said Homer
Buckyball the III to his wife: "What next?"

Well, Thelma Buckyball scratched her head, and then
she fanned her chin with a fat wad of cash,
and then she nodded merrily like she'd found
the very answer to the mystery of life itself...

The Zero Factor.

"Now that we have finally discovered the secret of success
--which had been kept from us for so long," she told him:
"We are going to push it on to ultimate success!"

"What do you mean, wife?" Homer Buckyball the III
asked his so very obviously wise wife...

And, "Husband," she told him:
"I intend to make sure that we become rich once and for all
--And tonight. For this very night you will go out there
and make sure that we lose all our cows!"

"All our cows?" Asked Homer Buckyball the III,
excited at the prospect of finally becoming rich once and for all,
and that very night too--But somewhat puzzled
how they would become rich without
having any milk at all to sell to anyone...

"That's the beauty of it," said his wife:
"The less milk we sell the more money we make,
so it's only logical that when we
no longer have any more milk to sell at all
we shall then become rich beyond being rich
--Doesn't that make sense to you too?"

Well, now,
Homer Buckyball the III was a bit troubled
by all this fancy new thinking;
but then again, being a simple man, he had
been puzzled all along... so,
as long as he had come through okay up to now,
why rock the boat?

Certainly his wife seemed very clear about this, so:

"Yes," he agreed with her: "It definitely makes sense,
I think: Tonight I shall lose those last bothersome ten cows,
and then we shall be rich forever
without end to being rich (just as you say)."

And so that night Homer Buckyball the III went out
to the last corral with any cows left in it, ten in fact,
and he not only made sure he left the gate open for them
... he even helped them out and on their way.

That night, all night long, the two Buckyballs dreamt of
becoming richer than all their wildest dreams!
Which was pretty wild.

And, "Boy, what a wild dream I had last night!"
Homer Buckyball the III told his wife the next morning.

"It couldn't have been wilder than mine!"
His giggling wife assured him: "C'mon, let's see
if we're finally rid of all our cows
so we can finally become rich without an end to riches!"

Already celebrating, and dancing merrily
even before they had had breakfast,
the Buckyballs looked out of the window
that opened out to their corrals, and
--what do you think they found?

Out there where they had expected to find nothing
but empty pastures and corrals (certainly empty of cows)
they now saw, for as far as the eye could see
... cows, cows and more cows!

"Nothing but cows out there!" Said Homer
Buckyball the III, quite astonished.

"It can't be!" Thelma Buckyball was sure of it,
rubbing her eyes in disbelief.

Tragically, it was all true enough.

Instead of no cows and all riches,
the Buckyballs discovered that every last one
of the 20,000 cows they had lost
had somehow found their way back home
and weren't lost any more!

"Oh, wife, look!" Cried Homer sadly:
"Here are our cows! And it looks like all 20,000 of them
are back! We're ruined!"

"Oh no!" It was awful enough to put Thelma Buckyball in tears
too: "Oh, husband," she complained bitterly:
"No matter how hard we try to better ourselves,
we always come back to where we were
--We'll never make it!"

But it was getting late, and like all farmers,
the Buckyballs knew what had to be done no matter what,
bad weather, tragedy, or the unexpected return of all their cows
--First the milking, and then the thinking (to see if any of it
made any sense)... if they had the time.

And since we all know that they hadn't had
the time to do any thinking up until
their herd of cows was cut in half at the beginning of this story,
we can be pretty sure that neither Buckyballs would find much time
to do much thinking now
that they again had to look after 20,000 cows!

"Good grief!" Cried Thelma Buckyball to her husband
excitedly: "The milkers, and the herdsmen!"

"And the milkmen, and the cow chip gatherers!"
Her husband echoed her.

"Quick! Quick!" She said to him:
"Call everybody back to work
--There'll probably be 20,000 buckets of milk to sell in town
from this day on until the end of time! Oh! How horrible!"

"Let's just hope that we haven't put too many people in town
off milk," said her husband as he was running out of the house
to try to hire back all his former hired hands
(and hoping they hadn't found other, better jobs).

All that day Homer Buckyball the III had to comfort his wife,
too, even though he was also terribly disappointed himself.
And most especially of all when they counted their profit
for that day: Two bucks!

"I'm just glad we can still get a buck a bucket!"
said his wife. And, thankful they still could.

So now the Buckyballs knew they would have to spend
the rest of their lives looking after their 20,000 cows
while trying to make do on a couple of bucks a day
instead of being as infinitely rich as they had hoped to be.

 "Boy... 20,000 cows! That's a lot of cow chips!"

  "Maybe, but them's the breaks, I guess..."

Just when they were finally about to become rich,
all of their cows had come home
and put them into the poorhouse instead.

So they quit thinking about becoming rich through cows
and started wondering what life might be like for them
in the fowl business of raising chickens instead
--Who knows! What do you think? ...

 

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