Friday, June 03, 2011

Old MacGrath and his bucketful of milk

Old MacGrath owned a farm in a countryside where he kept a few cows for dairy milk. In one particular milking session, the cows gave him a huge bounty of milk. Usually, Old MacGrath will have two full buckets of milk on average, so can you imagine his wrinkled but beaming face when after milking all his cows, he realised that he had not two, not three and six buckets of milk!

Old MacGrath was full of joy, and on the way back to the farm, he was already thinking of what to do with the milk. Oh, how his mouth salivate when he thought of the many milk products that can be made from the six full buckets to feed himself and his family! He can make cheese, butter and all sorts of delicious products from the milk. After making so many products, he couldn't possibly finish all of them by himself, so he can even sell it to the market or barter it for some other goods. How fortune smiles upon him! 

But on the other hand, he could also sell the extra milk to the market so that he can have some extra money immediately for him to buy some seeds for the summer planting season that is to come in a few weeks time. With the new seeds, he can plant more crops too! Oh decision decision decision...what should Old MacGrath do with his six buckets of milk? It was such a heaven-sent gift, but for hellish reasons, he couldn't make up his mind on which options he could best utilize this 'windfall'.

So, being unsure of himself, he called for a quick meeting among his family to discuss the matter. His wife told him to sell it to the market for some quick cash so that he can buy more seeds for the summer crops. His eldest son told him it's wiser to keep the milk and turn it into dairy products for their own consumption. His daughter told him that he should use 3 buckets of milk for their own consumption and sell 3 buckets of milk to the market. After a whole day of discussion, Old MacGrath was still unsure of what to do with his milk because everyone makes perfect sense.

Tired of all the heated discussion, Old MacGrath thought that he should take some of the milk to quench his thirst. Taking a ladle, he scooped up a cupful of milk from one of the buckets and took a deep sip, wishing the refreshing taste of milk to sooth his throat. He spitted it out immediately! It was so sour! Looking closely under the dimming light, he realised that almost the whole day had passed since he last milked the cows and the buckets of milk had turned bad!

Oh horrid horrid fate, he cried out loud, totally inconsolably by his family who crowded beside him. His indecision had caused nature to take the decision off his own hands! On hindsight, any decision made on his part seems better than the one that nature had forced upon him unwillingly. Oh horrid horrid fate....


Special thanks to SMOL for teaching me the value of story telling. Stories are wonderful wonderful way to impart values and at the same time, because of their ambiguity, it is also timeless and borderless. Reading the same story at different times of your life will elucidate different aspects of your life. Reading the same story by different people will teach different things to them too. Like the Rorschach ink blot test, the variance in interpretation varies across time and space. That is also the reason why I like reading children's story books. 

Good children's books are meant for children to read, but for adults to understand.


*This article is contributed to IM$avvy financial portal, which is managed by Central Provident Fund Board and supported by MoneySense. This site has a noble aim of promoting financial literacy to the general population.


Anonymous said...

Yes LP,
Sometimes the situation was so critical, that the saying:- "He who hesitates is lost" really applicable to share investing also. Anyway it happened to me many times. But the irony was sometimes I hesitated but was "saved' from investing in a "bad situation or stock." Due to both sides of the coin can happened, i think i can't overcome this "habit of hesitating of mine when come to buying/selling shares.
Actually, when i reflected on my hesitations, i realized it was mostly still due to fear or greed. Ha! Ha! Still learning. If not i would make even more money. Usually, it's due to fear; greed only once in a "green' moon, hopefully.
Do you have the same experience?
i like almost all your postings because they challenge one to think. Please carry on.

Anonymous said...


How very true. Not deciding is a decision in itself because when we do not decide, by default, someone else or some event will make that decision for us. Either we grab the bull by the horns and decide our own destiny or let someone else do it for us, where we have no control.


AK71 said...

Hi LP,

Someone in the cbox inspired this? ;)

la papillion said...

Hi temperament,

Haha, I hope you enjoy my postings as much as I enjoy writing them :)

Oh yes, I do share you experiences. Sometimes, by not doing anything, the thing can turn out to be a good thing. For example, not too long ago, I wanted to get into beauty china. But thankfully it just remains a thought and I didn't act on it, if not....

For me, it's sometimes greed but I guess it's mostly fear :)

Hi Li,

I prefer making the decision rather than letting nature take its course. At least when I make a conscious decision, if it's wrong or good, I can learn from it. It's my mistake and I intend to fully own it. If I let nature take its course, I can always blame something else ;)

Hi AK,

Yup, you're right :)

Createwealth8888 said...

In investing, it is better to plan in advance on what you want and then be happy to execute what you have planned. Don't expect that you are always lucky in the market without any planning.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...

Hello LP,

I am humbled and grateful.

To repay your hospitality, I would like pledge my sword to your alliance.

Whenever the tavern-master sends out the rallying cry, I will respond.

SMOL - travelling Bard from the Guodolongdong clan that hails from the eastern land of the dragon riders.

(Yup, Dungeons and Dragons!)