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chicken houses
half a million
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The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia
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The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia

“That's the night the lights went out in Georgia.” Anyone remember that song, that lyric? Well my lovely wife Kathy does. She remembers it all too well. But for Her it was the morning the lights went out in Georgia. At least in Cumming, Georgia. At least on Nicholson Rd. And at our brand new Poultry Farm and our first flock of chickens.

Some stories you can just jump right into and some require background. At least to make any sense. I prefer jumping in---but in this case background is needed. Trust me the extra words are worth the twist at the end.

So I begin.

My business partner and I had established a very profitable Video Production Company and for years we made a good team. But things change and it came to a point where one of us had to go. So I initiated our ‘Buy/Sell’ agreement and he decided to buy.

Days later my Daughter Jamie was diagnosed with cancer….and one of the worst kinds. I can remember thinking that maybe, despite this unacceptable news….at least I was owed close to half a million dollars for my share of the company….at least that would allow me to spend time with Jamie…to research her cancer….to spend time with my family….to try to make everything right.

Knowing that money doesn’t last forever, I bought a Travel Agency and on advice of my CPA….who by the way was the best that you could get; rest His soul….I built a Poultry Farm. That’s right a Chicken Farm. Four Houses 40 foot wide by 400 foot long. They could hold 24,000 chickens each. That’s 96,000 chickens. The investment was close to …..well let’s just say a LOT. But the numbers on paper justified the risk. That’s what entrepreneurs do---take risks.

The chicken houses were built. 96,000 chicks were delivered and that was it.

No Manual.

No Training Video.

Just ‘here they are.”

This came as a bit of a shock. From my background in Franchising and Training Videos, I expected just a little bit more. Don’t get me wrong, none of the money spent went to the Company that brought the Chicks----but I still expected at least a book of instructions. But no.

And then the phone rang. (Seems like I have used this line several times before).

It was my Ex Partner telling me that things were going very badly at the company since he bought me out and that he thought that he would have to file for bankruptcy. Meaning I was not going to be paid. Meaning that I too was heading for bankruptcy.

So there I was.

A new Travel Agency (that I knew would never make much money but would allow us to travel).

A new Poultry Farm (that I knew I did not have the training to run).

A Daughter with cancer (that I knew I was helpless to control).

And an Income that was about to disappear (unless I did something).

So I did something.

I called my Ex Partner and said we needed to figure out what was wrong. As we had done for years we booked a short cruise out of Miami to immerse ourselves in the business plan. No kidding these had always had been business cruises. It was nice not being able to be easily reached, knowing where we were going to dinner, and knowing that we could also take a break at the end of a long day. As the family’s future depended on it, I knew I would come up with a solution. And I did.

But not before the phone rang again,

But this time it was me making the call. A call home from the Port of Miami. Checking on Jamie, the boys, my lovely wife and the 96,000 chickens.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I heard next……..

“They’re dead---they’re all dead!!”

At first my worries were of my Daughter with cancer and then of my boys.

“Who’s dead? What are you so distraught about?”

“The chickens you idiot. I killed them. I killed them all!”

That’s when I learned that the lights (electricity) went out in Georgia (at least on Nicholson Rd in Cumming).

She babbled on that there had been a power failure and was not sure what to do. She immediately called the company that we were raising the chickens for telling them that she was from JTV Farms and asking what should she do. Being a brand new grower (remember this was our first flock) I think they might of thought it was a prank call. She was told not to worry. They would be alright for an hour or so. Of course she called the power company and begged for help. An hour or so passed and still no power. I had not left her alone. We had hired help for while I was away and except for making phone calls, Kathy was in the Chicken houses with help the whole time.

After two hours she called the Company again and asked what she should do. Again they said everything should be alright.

Some 60,000 dead chickens later it was obvious that everything was not alright.

As I heard all of this on the pay phone in the Port of Miami I said I was sorry and would be on the next flight back----I should be home before dark.

NO. Was the answer I got back? To this day I do not know if it was anger or determination that I heard in her voice. But I knew that I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn’t.

So off on a Pleasure cruise I went to try to save a business---which I did by the way. My Ex Partner was even stupid enough to order chicken that night….you wonder why the business was failing?

But that left Kathy with the task of disposing of 60,000, some dead and decaying, chickens. The Company we grow for helped out and Management along with hired labor and with neighbors Kathy hired undertook the gruesome task.

Then came the time for lunch.

As Kathy was the only female doing the dirty work---and yes she was doing the dirty work---they sent her off to get lunch for a couple of dozen hungry men.

My lovely wife, always being the analytic, assessed the situation and came up with what was the most logical conclusion. She would need buckets of food to feed all of these helpful hands……………………..And yes, she went to Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I am told that there were many men there that almost lost it.

They sent her back out for pizza.

Pray for me, I’ll Pray for you.

Jim

Original Recipe is my favorite….I think I’ll get it for Dinner tonight!


Street Talk

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