Bird in Flight

There is a passage from Joel Salatin’s book Folks, This Ain’t Normal that moved me this week–exactly why–remains for later. Let’s begin with that quote:

“To have a discussion about normal living, normal ecology, all my readers need to understand how ignorant we’ve become as a culture. With our frame of reference skewed, our perceptions about farming, and our notions of what is environmentally enhancing or not, we approach farming with prejudicial brain damage. As a result, we have…the ignorant notion that cows are belching methane and causing global warming. The scientific studies impugning the cow view her as taking, taking, taking, and not putting anything back…

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The taping of Duba & Company's Introductory Promotional Video, Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Timothy Stoner

The taping of Duba & Company’s Introductory Promotional Video, Photograph Courtesy of Jonathan Timothy Stoner

The 85th Academy Awards airs this Sunday, and if there were a category for Best Promotional Video by a Heritage Meat Company, I just gotta believe Duba & Company’s Promotional Video (2013) would be among the nominees. My confidence is derived, in part, from the fact of there being–to my knowledge–only one other heritage meat company in the United States (and they didn’t produce a promotional video this year). But, by far, the greater part of my confidence comes from the team that lies behind the production of the video, whom I wish to thank (but I’ll save that for the award’s speech). Here is a behind-the-scenes look at its filming which is here recounted in three acts.

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Chistening 1

In the Chapel of St. Thomas Moore, Law School Building, University of Notre Dame

There is an ancient custom of christening a ship about to set sail. This tradition spans thousands of years: from antiquity, through the Middle Ages, and into modernity. In the ceremony a prayer is said and a bottle of wine is broken over the bow of the vessel (or, as was customary for the Norsemen, a human blood was smeared instead–you’ll be spared all the gory details). Call me sentimental, but last Wednesday–a crisp, brilliant winter day–found my wife, parents, and me driving down to the University of Notre Dame where Duba & Company was “christened” by Fr. Michael, a former classmate of mine from our years together at the University.

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Duba's Steaks Logo for Website

Humor me…for 45 seconds: watch Jerry Seinfield’s stand-up routine where he makes the following observation: everyone’s doctor is, in their estimation at least, “the best.” Have you ever heard anyone say, “My doctor’s the worst. Oh, yeah, he’s a real butcher”? During the Christmas Season, we took a step back. Having operated under the name “Duba’s Steaks” since the Fall of 2010, it was now time to make a change: a change consonant with our company’s new focus; a change requiring a conversation with our attorney (who is, by the way, the best). He went to work, paperwork was filed, documents were signed and, as the new year began, we began operating under a new name…

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Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

In observance of the Twelve Days of Christmas, our regularly scheduled Thursday posts will resume on Thursday, January 10, 2013.

As the weather begins to cool, so too the tug to stay indoors. As I was reminded of last Sunday, hiking the outdoors, it’s well worth fighting that urge. It is hoped that the following thoughts will stir the heart and assist it in overcoming the inertia that begins to set in this time of year:

“How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”

John Burroughs

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A friend of mine once had this to say about elevator music: “It’s sort of music and sort of not music.” In other words, it’s music without a lot of substance. It certainly has some essential properties of music: it’s melodious sound with something rhythmic about it, but…it lacks soul. I remember the day my maternal grandfather called the house, wanting to take my brother, sisters, and me out for ice cream one hot summer day. This was the grandfather who spoiled his ten grandchildren with lunch at Wendy’s for square hamburgers, bikes, a trip to Europe, and (on this occassion) a frozen dairy treat. When we heard the news that grandpa was picking us up, there was only one place that we could go: Frosty Boy, the soft serve ice cream stand a couple miles from our northeast side home. But, grandpa objected to our suggestion on the grounds that soft serve ice cream wasn’t real ice cream. You can imagine the incomprehensibility of the statement. “What do you mean Frosty Boy doesn’t serve real ice cream!?” We went to Frosty Boy that day. Well, grandpa, I finally agree with you. Frosty Boy served something that was sort of ice cream in the same way that elevator music is sort of music: soft serve ice cream is cold, sweet, and has a creamy texture. But, with all that, it too lacks some essential property, some very real substance. There’s just something artificial about it all. Read more

It was on such a day as today (decidedly cool, gray, and possibly a little blustery if my memory serves) in the month of October at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon that I took a call from a headhunter. I was in Fifth Grade and had just recently returned home from school to begin the weekend. The voice on the other end of the line was that of Sue Blades, a manager at The Grand Rapids Press. Was I interested in taking on a paper route, she asked? Gosh, I think I was. Good: she would be over that evening to meet with my parents and me. What was it that I sensed in her voice as we talked on the phone? Trepidation, I think (normally, paper routes were not handed over to 11-year-olds). But I remember feeling honored. Though it would take me more than twenty years, I now discern that I was probably at the end of her list of potential candidates (the job started tomorrow, after all). You never forget your first love. And you never forget your first job. This, then, is an ode to a first job but, truth be told, it feels more like a ballad: a ballad to a rite of passage that has all but disappeared–that of the paperboy. Read more

We went on a field trip last Monday (my wife and I) to a farm on the shores of Lake Michigan were are raised a whole variety of creatures: deer, chickens, cows, pigs, championship racehorses, and bees. We had come for the bees. Now, my wife had been talking for a couple of years about becoming a beekeeper, and this summer everything came together for her. Her apprenticeship under a master beekeeper formally commenced this July. Here, in mid-September, it was now time to harvest the honey. For me to be invited to join her for this stage in the honey-making process was, indeed, a delicious treat. Read more

This year has been a year of firsts: for starters, I got married to the most wonderful woman (this past weekend my wife and I celebrated one year of marital bliss); last September I became an uncle to the most delightful niece; and I think it was this Spring that I tried foie gras for the first time. Foie gras: goose liver. It’s a meaty, buttery, delicate food that literally melts on the tongue: a sort of “meat truffle”. But it’s a highly controversial delicatessen since foie gras is produced by a process known as gavage: the force-feeding of geese, causing their livers to unnaturally expand. Enter Dan Barber: executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill Farm whose recorded presentation from the 2008 TASTE3 Conference in Napa, California, I watched last Wednesday night. In it, he shares about the best foie gras he’s ever tasted. Read more