top of page
  • ZISK

Spilled Milk and Hungry Calves

If you grew up on a little dairy farm like I did, maybe you too helped out with feeding calves. Long before the days of a milk taxi or autofeeder, I used to fill up buckets and carefully arrange them in my hands so I could carry as many pails at one time as possible to the bucket calves.

More than once, I overestimated how many milk buckets I could carry.

The result: Spilled milk, empty buckets and hungry calves.

I couldn't help but think about these old milk buckets when I sat down with Tommy Oesch from Swisslane Farms. We talked about "buckets" - the areas of life where he puts his focus.

As a partner in the dairy, the business is certainly one of those buckets. But he knows that if he puts too much focus on that bucket, he'll have an empty bucket somewhere else - like the buckets for family (as a husband and dad), his health, his friendships and his faith.

Easier said than done, right?

It's hard to keep all your buckets balanced. And when you carry too many or fill them too full, you end up like I did when I fed calves: Covered in spilled milk, with empty buckets and hungry calves.

The key was to know how many buckets I could carry, with the proper amount in each one, so that the calves got what they needed. And when I finally figured that out, I saved myself time, had happier calves and didn't smell like sour milk.

The truth it, it still takes a few "sour milk" moments for me to realize when I've been trying to carry too many buckets, or I've got a bucket that needs to be refilled.

But this conversation with Tommy brought some strong convictions that made me really stop and think about how I've been handling my own buckets.

Here's what I've been asking myself:

1. Family

Am I being intentional and fully focusing on the most important people, especially when they are right in front of me?

Am I asking them questions and listening with full attention?

Are we actively praying together?

2. Faith

How can I connect more with other believers? Tommy talked about spending two hours each and every week with his mens' discipleship group, and how it's made him a better dad, husband and businessman.

3. Business

How am I managing my time to be laser-focused?

What systems or structures can I implement to save time, money and move me to my goals faster? Tommy talked about the EOS model Swisslane uses.

4. Health - physical and mental

Is there something that has a stronghold on me - a vice that I seek to cope with stress?

Tommy was very honest in sharing how alcohol was that for him, and giving it up through the 75 Hard challenge helped him break that stronghold.

5. Friendships

How are my husband and I investing NOW in the friendships we want to have when we are 80 years old?

Balancing buckets takes a whole different kind of "work" - it requires planning, prioritizing, energy and effort, but the results are worth it: Not one drop of milk is wasted, you've got happy, healthy calves.

Sometimes it takes the right questions to bring awareness of a bucket that needs some attention, and it also helps to hear from someone else who is willing to be open and honest in talking about.

Thanks, Tommy, for being that person - for me and many others.

If you are trying to balance your own buckets, these conversations are worth the listen:

Our #1 episode of the Uplevel Dairy Podcast:

By Peggy Coffeen, Uplevel Dairy Podcast

Insights from guest writer Peggy Coffeen, Uplevel Dairy Podcast



bottom of page