When I was growing up, my parents had poultry farms. We had poultry houses at a cooperative farm in Ojowhere farmers aggregate, to do their business in a communal fashion. My mum will go to the farm in the morning as early as 5.am, apron in hand to feed the birds before heading to her corporate job at Victoria Island. We also had two poultry houses at home. We had one for layers, and the other for broilers. The boys-quarter was often used as the brooder for the day old chicks. It was lots of fun setting up the low bulbs and lanterns to keep the place super warm. We also set up the drinkers, feeders and thick layers of wood shavings for the litters. When we get layers, they come in as point-of-lay. These ones live in battery cages. Periodic picking of eggs, especially middays and evenings was exciting.
One of the process I enjoyed most was de-beaking. This is a periodic process of trimming the beaks of the birds to a safe length. I enjoyed this so much because it was pay-back time for the terrible ones amongst them who took pleasure in pecking our hands while we picked the eggs, removing the intestines of other birds or cracking the eggs. we cut the beaks of the culprit extra short, bruising their tongue as we did it. The bleeding beak checkmates them into a depressive and solitary mood. We also had our own miller. We made our feeds from concentrates and whole maize. We often saved the shells of the eggs we ate and fish bones for production. These were useful calcium supplement for the growth of the birds. We all had our shovels with which we mix and bag the feed. It was a budding value chain. But of all the processes, nothing beats the seasons of slaughter.
My parents supplied frozen chicken to hotels around Lagos. When they get orders, they hire some daily paid works/casual workers who get paid for the number of birds they dress per day. However, of a big lesson was our involvement in this commerce. Before they leave for work in the morning, they tell each of us the number of birds we were expected to dress for the day. I was in primary school, and I got between 6 – 10 birds to dress per day. I remember vividly that once we arrive from school (by the way, we trekked from school to the house), we drop our bags by the doorway and move to the backyard. I will tie all six or more birds together using a rope or a piece of rag, and cut their heads off all at once. We watch the bunch hop together till they finally make it into the hot water. By evening, we would have dressed our quota of the slaughter ready for delivery. There were consequences for defaulters. It may have been a million miles away from a perfect system, yet it was one that built within me some of the life skills and competences required to succeed in life. I learnt resilience, humility, persistence and responsibility.
As we celebrated the teacher’s day, yesterday, I reaffirmed my belief that all parents are teachers, with a higher power of influence than any other. Parenting and its consequential influence is something your son’s teachers or your daughter’s tutor can never fully express or replicateas you would do. The life and character skills are informal lessons which can only be effectively taught in the home by the parents. The teachers at school can only build on the foundations that exist.
Let’s endeavour to bring our children to the seasons of slaughter, where they are molded and baked, ready to withstand the pressures of life. Let’s hold them responsible for high performance not just in their school work but in the everyday activities around them. The seasons of slaughter brings out the “Everyday Greatness” such as grit, integrity, humility, respect, empathy, flexibility, perseverance, patience, creativity and all the EQ required to be a success in life. When is your next season of slaughter?
Remember, when you chase the sun, you will catch the clouds, when you long for the moonlight, stories are heralded. Never seek perfection, simply stay genuine.
DayoOladele-Ilori is a management consultant, an entrepreneur, an author, a wife and mother. She isthe HR Advisory at House of Procurement. She is also the convener of WELEAD -www.weleadnetwork.org