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Small Time, Old School.


This week, I thought I’d take you on a fun photo journey, introducing you to a few faces in our tribe that make your food.

 

Before we dive in, I’ll give you a little history on how we ever got into processing in the first place. None of us in the family were ‘born’ with any meat craft skill. Our extent of butchery knowledge was cutting up some venison in the garage after a successful Thanksgiving week of deer hunting around the ranch with friends and family as well as helping skin and dress our bison on the slaughter floor after our weekly field harvest back in the early days of harvesting a few bison per year. We raised the bison and cared deeply about how they were harvested. Being immersed into the processing side with the bison, we began to understand the commonly practiced meat processing techniques and quickly recognized that there was a casim that existed between ours and our customer’s desires versus what had become common practice in the meat processing world. There were no small processors locally that could be flexible with our field harvest method and no processors that were willing to process the meat as clean and chemical-free as we desired. At that point, we realized we had better get to learnin’.

 

We began making plans of building our own processing facility on the home ranch but caught wind of a local family processor that was slowly succumbing to the winds of change. The facility was older but met our needs nicely and the crew working the facility was also perfectly antiquated or “well-seasoned”. We bought that little old processing facility on Sept. 1, 2005, made some immediate modifications, and the old girl was back humming again like old times. That acquisition of Mincoff’s Meat Market gifted us nearly 200 years of Bohemian meat cutting heritage. Skilled butchery is a craft, equivalent to brewing craft beer or fine wine. Ample time is crucial to understanding cuts, honing recipes, and sourcing clean, quality seasoning ingredients.

 

There is an element of pride in what we do.

We’re still learning, as we always should be, but we can confidently say we’re a cut above, and that’s saying something coming from the great state of cheese and meat, home of the Green Bay Packers. ← There’s enough meat cutter pride in our part of the country to name Wisconsin's professional football team after a local meat packing company; the ACME Packers. :)

 

 

 

 

The Crew...

 

 

Paul: 30+ yr veteran. He’s cut his thumb off and returned to work the very next day to help skin, holding the knife between his middle finger and ring finger while his thumb was casted after being sewn back on. The common joke is, Paul will retire when he’s dead. Only Paul’s not joking. Paul is a master of all things butchery.

 

 

 

 

Red: Joyful. Red’s enjoyment of life is infectious and his genuinely thankful heart is completely refreshing. He absolutely loves what he does and gets like a child when talking about all things processing. Red’s experience is almost endless. He’s got his own personal accounts with most of the butchery supply stores and is constantly ordering new gadgets and gizmos to try. Red is truly a meat craft artisan.

 

 

 

 

Mandi: Ninja. Mandi can move and keep things moving. Her head is on a swivel, knowing all things at all times, directing like air traffic control. Nothing slips past without her consent. Her brain calculates, crunches, and computes while operating a couple different machines and answering a question or two simultaneously. And she’s memorized practically all 3000 of our product codes. She’s also the gatekeeper on quality control. If it ain’t perfect, it ain’t getting shipped!

 

 

 

 

Chuck: We give Chuck a hard time about caring too much. Honestly! Chuck is in charge of shipping and he takes total responsibility for every package that leaves his door, whether or not he packed it himself. Our goal is that every package goes out the door on time, as ordered, and arrives on your doorstep in great condition. Chuck makes that happen consistently week in and week out! And he's always improving things.

 

 

 

 

Dad (Lee, middle right), Marielle (left) and I (middle left)(On the far right is Mary, ‘mom’) have all worked in some capacity in every area of meat processing over the past 25 years; from field harvesting to skinning to packaging. Now, the team is more specialized and skilled than we are but we can give them a run for their money when we want to! ;)

And btw, we're not actually as stoic as we look in this picture! :)

 

 

 

Small-time & old-school mean something to us. It’s a choice we make every day.

We will never be a big factory operation. Our old-school processing methods of never using any modern processing “advancements” like dyes, flavor additives, gas-flushes, chemical preservatives, etc., will never change either. These decisions put us in a position that demands us to perform to the absolute highest level, and we’re up for that challenge. Our processing rooms are actually huge coolers set at 38 degrees. We actually swab and medical-lab test our processing room regularly looking to find any bacteria or pathogens in order to address it before it could become an issue. We can’t afford a mistake in our cold-chain or the quality of the meat will quickly diminish; we use no cover-ups or ‘grace methods’.

 

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, we pride ourselves in our self-imposed standard of excellence. Nobody cares more about preparing safe, fresh, high-quality, well-packaged meats for you and your family to enjoy than we do.

 

Instead of lowering our standard to meet what was available to us, we chose to pull up our bootstraps and do what we believed to be best for the animal and you, the consumer. And none of this is to brag, rather to help communicate the level of commitment we have to you.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to meet some of the people who care about the quality of your food. It’s a privilege we don’t take lightly. And let us know if you’re ever interested in touring our processing facility; we’d love the opportunity to show you around.

 

 

Live Well This Week,

​- Sean & the Northstar Tribe

 

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