As anticipated yesterday will be an outing I will never forget as I took a field trip with a group of my closest friends to visit their aunt, uncle and cousins in the farm country of Genesee County.  Upon a bucolic homestead replete with farmhouse, barn and wide open acreage lined by patches of forest we participated in a workshop on processing chickens.  I had a feeling that I could most relate to standing in line for a rollercoaster, a nervous anticipation of an imminent thrill, and sure enough when the first chicken’s throat was slit I became weak in the knees witnessing the blood spatter as the animal twitched.  From this point forward however I regained my power stepping in to pluck feathers at first, then over to a makeshift butcher table where we removed the head and claws, followed by the innards, retaining the liver, heart and necks in a bowl for the old man who enjoys these as a delicacy.  There was something indisputably primal about the whole process, and yet such an honor to prepare what would result in a nourishing meal to feed several families.  I was way out of my comfort zone, although I firmly believe that fundamentally it’s no different from harvesting celery.  We were each sent home with farm fresh eggs along with a 5 lb bird, and advised to let it cure for several days before consuming.  You can’t get any more local than providing your own food source.

Upon returning to Matt & Amy’s home in the city, aptly dubbed “The Barn”, we washed up and discussed the afternoon’s activity as we noshed on a bucket of char-pit chicken wings.  Amy had been insistent on taking the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the process as it is a big part of our group vision if and when we steward a parcel of land together someday.  I shared that for me it was much more selfish to participate in the activity as a matter of spiritual growth.  I’d harbored an aversion to killing chickens until yesterday, and yet I’ve included them in my diet for nearly 4 decades, a rather contradictory, if not hypocritical stance.  If you cannot kill a chicken you really need to consider why you’re eating it.  I did take a turn at slitting one’s throat, and despite my apprehension managed to perform a very clean kill, which of course minimized any suffering for the animal.  My ex would have been mortified by the whole thing.  All in all it took us a little over 3 hours to process 17 birds as we once again worked cohesively.  Although there was a minor upset between Matt & Erin, we were able to resolve that with some inquiry and honesty.  The bottom line is that whenever we set our intentions upon a project, whether it be splitting firewood, repairing a shed or harvesting meat, we do so at a high level of harmony in an inspired process.

Before watching archived video of a Northern Exposure episode, one of the better TV series dating back to the early 90’s, Matt queued up for us a YouTube video on the evolution of motivation for human behavior in the workplace.  The illustrator fleshed out an argument that standard incentive pyramid within organizations fail because, in short, people are not motivated purely by reward, most commonly in the form of pay.  He cited a study ironically funded by The Federal Reserve and conducted by authorities in the field of economics from the likes of MIT and Carnegie-Mellon.  What it showed is that the reward-punishment model only applies to rudimentary, algorithmic tasks with little cognitive function, while highly skilled people who hold technically sophisticated jobs are much more driven by autonomy, mastery and creativity, hence the purpose motive.  Companies like Linux, Apple and Facebook for instance thrive by creating inspiring places to work with missions that “put a ding in the universe” to borrow from Steve Jobs.  This was a timely reminder for me of the importance of purpose over profit in my endeavors.

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of Occupy Buffalo when hordes of frustrated souls converged downtown to occupy Niagara Square and represent the 99% for several months until the City finally evicted them halfway through an abnormally mild winter.  I’m thinking I will head down there to visit friends and join in the festivities after finishing up some chores, including washing blood-spattered clothes and mowing the lawn using the neighbor’s superior machinery.  I’m looking after their dogs, Juno and Midnight, the latter of which is a husky and can be a challenge to bring in from the outdoors I’m told, even on a cool and rainy day.

In common wealth,