Updated: Jan 5, 2018
A story on increasing abundance and legacy.
The Man Who Owned Buffalo by Rich Fontaine
Once there was a man who lived in a small village with other men and their families. His house was simple like theirs: a small hut which sheltered his wife and two young children. His yard was very simple — just enough field for his wife to grow fruits and vegetables to eat. The activities of all the village people were even similar that every man went out every day to hunt for food, so his family could have a good meal at the end of the day. They hunted chickens, goats, and fish, but they loved to hunt buffalo. Buffalos were larger in size so the meals would last much longer, and the men could stay home with their families instead of hunting.
This one particular man has been hunting buffalo since he was 12 and became pretty good at it. He always kept his family fed, sheltered, safe and clothed; but a harsh winter came one year on his 30th birthday that changed his life forever.
He has survived plenty of winters, plus hunted during them as well, but this particular winter seemed to be the Hercules of all snowy seasons. There were so much snow that nobody could go out to hunt; even if they received the courage, the snow was far too thick and the flurries were diving down too hard to see. One day he looked for miles, stomping across the vast acres of snow to find not one deer, not one fish, not one goat and especially not one buffalo. His family had to ration all of the food they had; his kids became weak and his wife, homely. This disturbed the man incredibly. He was a great hunter; he hunted every day for hours on end, leaving his family at home every evening just to end up poor — and have nothing to show for it. This angered him as he vowed that he would never let this happen again.
He began to have sit-downs with the other men in the tribe, but they were all content with their predicament, stating things like, “It is what the gods permitted,” or “The winter is almost over; we should just be thankful we all survived.” But the man did not just want to survive, he wanted to thrive.
As the snow began to melt and spring introduced its presence, all the men started back on the hunt for food, each maintaining the same mentality as before except one. The man that decided that he was not going to settle for crumbs had a different look in his eyes than before — a look of determination. It was like his mindset shifted from just a hunter to a thinker. He kissed his wife goodbye and said, “I will go hunt today again but instead of food, I will come back with treasure.”
She smiled at him, seeing the motivation in his eyes and said, “Bring back a flock of treasure.” He grinned, than vacated the home.
In the fields, the men were hunting for whatever food they could find: rabbit, deer, fish, whatever. Not the man; he hunted for something very specific — he was only looking for buffalo. The men looked at him curiously as he kept passing prey, wondering if he had gone crazy; but he paid them no mind. They asked him questions like, “Do you plan on eating tonight?”
And he would answer back, “I’ll eat plenty.” They shrugged their shoulders, caught their prey and went home. This went one for three days and the man was beginning to get discouraged, but his wife’s words of encouragement rang in his ears: “Bring back a flock of treasure”. He decided to go a different path than the other men, wandering downstream away from the little morsels of food. Then he finally saw it: a large meaty, healthy female buffalo. He walked up to it with pieces of grain in his palm, while petting it softly. He did not want to kill it or eat it; he wanted to capture it.
To the other villagers’ astonishment, the man took the buffalo home. Why would he be taking a live buffalo home? Doesn’t he want to eat it? What is going on? The villagers questioned his motives, even believing he may have gone mad. What the other villagers did not understand was that this man had a plan and he was going to execute that plan to its completion. Days would go by as they watched the buffalo graze grass within the man’s fences, which made them laugh and mock. They made comments such as “Nice pet,” or “I guess the man is a buffalo lover now.” The man ignored them and stayed focused on his plan. Two weeks went by and all the man ate with his family were fruits and vegetables from the garden. Though his family wanted a larger portion of food, they trusted him and knew from the look in his eyes that this was not going to be forever.
Finally the day came when the man when out far into the field to find a large, meaty, healthy male buffalo. He was so ecstatic that people claimed they could hear his screams of joy for miles. He captured it and walked it back to the village. The other villages were perplexed; they couldn’t understand why the man wasn’t hunting and eating like the rest of them. This made them even angry. They approached his house to ask why he had two buffalos sitting in his yard while others were struggling to hunt every day. He told them, “My business is to eat many buffalo, not one buffalo at a time.” This answer confused them of course as they went home, shunning the once known great hunter. His wife smiled, because she understood his plan and thought of it as genius. The man bred the buffalo, which caused a group of offspring which he raised big and strong, feeding them the vegetables from the garden.
A year later, the man had a field full of buffalo — too many to fit in his small yard. He approached a farmer with a large lot and asked if he could build a home there and if so, he would give him five grown buffalos to eat. The man agreed and sold him the land. He found some builders and asked them if they could build him a large home and he would pay them each two buffalos to eat. They agreed and built him a large home. He continued to breed the buffalo, which made even more buffalo. He soon had acres of buffalo grazing on his land all day. He stopped hunting and ate only one buffalo per month, still eating vegetables and fruits to preserve them.
Soon another winter came, which wiped out all agriculture and livestock. This winter was worse than the one before; this one left famine and death. The people were starving with no hunting to be done. What were they to do? Suddenly one of them said, “What about the man who owns the buffalos?”
“Yes, he can help us,” said another.
The entire village rushed to the man’s large estate to request that he help them. “You have a vast number of buffalo that graze in your fields. Could you spare some for your fellow villagers?” The man pondered, knowing he had enough to feed him and the entire village; but he couldn’t just give them away because that would set him back from all of his planning, sacrifices and hard work. He knew he did not want the villagers vexed at him; even though his buffalo were being guarded by large dogs and a guard, he still did not want a riot on his property.
“I have decided that although I cannot give away my buffalo, I will sell them to you. What do you have to offer me?” The villagers went home and came back with anything that they could offer him in return for his buffalo. The merchant offered him the finest pottery and clothes. The seamstress offered him and his wife the finest garments. The tobacco farmer offered well-grown tobacco for smoking. He was offered everything to cause him to lead an abundant lifestyle, so he sold half of his buffalo; the other half was kept for breeding. He realized that his buffalo could help others across the known villages, so he hired workers to take his buffalo from place to place for sale. This grew his fortune immensely, which he gave to his son, which gave it to his son. He did this until he died, providing generational wealth to his family. This man sold buffalo, ate the best foods, wore the best clothes, smoked the best tobacco, travelled to foreign lands and met different cultures. He was soon known as the richest man in the known villages and it all started with an idea to breed buffalo instead of hunting for them.
“One must realize that all who have accumulated great fortunes, first did a certain amount of dreaming, hoping, wishing, desiring and planning before the acquired money.” - Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich, 1937)