The Time To Do It


Back in my teenage years, I spent many an evening catching and then loading up chickens for our neighbor, Mr. Gunter (we all called him Uncle).

Uncle raised chickens commercially. He would buy thousands upon thousands of “biddies,” then place them in the long chicken houses on his farm where he would feed and water them until they were large enough to be taken to market for processing. This feeding process was set up so the chickens could eat anytime on a constant basis and gain weight quickly.

When the chickens reached an optimal weight, it was time to catch them. Uncle would hire a bunch of us boys to catch the chickens by hand and load them on the truck. My job was to catch some 7 to 8 at a time and then carry them out of the house to the awaiting crates that were on huge trucks that the processing plant had sent out to the farm.

The difficult part was this catching had to take place during at night so that the chickens wouldn’t jump on top of each other and smother each other to death. When the time came, we’d cut the lights out on one end of the house and shoo them towards the lights at the other end. Once they were closely bunched-up we would place a barrier fence to keep them herded up and then turn all the lights off so they would stand still. At that point, we could easily grab them by the ankle. After we loaded a fair number and the bunch grew looser, we would again herd them up again and tighten the barrier fence.

Usually, we caught many, many thousand on any given catch. The catch would begin at 11pm or midnight and end at 4 or 5 am. After a hot shower and a quick nap, I was off at 7am to school. Yes, it made attending school and staying awake during class very difficult. Many times, a classmate would give me a friendly nudge when the teacher started looking my way! And, when I could, I would ‘check out’ to go to the library, where I would then pick up a newspaper and plop into one of the comfortable chairs to take a much needed siesta!

For sure, catching chickens during the middle of the night wasn’t a convenient time for me and I’m sure it wasn’t for Uncle either. But, despite our discomfort, it was the right time to do it safely and efficiently.

Working these crazy hours helped me learn that there some things best done at “inconvenient” times. Success is often in the timing - and it certainly was for Uncle. He always sent the healthiest chickens to market and demand was high for his product.

The truth is; the knock of opportunity is not always convenient. But if you are willing to open the door when opportunity knocks, no matter the time, success awaits on the other side.

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