PULASKI TOWNSHIP, N.D. -- Things are hopping on this crisp Friday November afternoon as members of the Duray and Kasprick hunting clan get together to mark a seasonal rite of work and pleasure.
It's sausage-making time, and this 24-by-24-foot heated shop east of Warsaw, N.D. -- an area rich in Polish heritage and tradition -- is absolutely bustling with activity.
Deer season was good, and there's meat to grind and spices to mix with pork and venison. There are casings to wash and stuff before the sausage goes into the smokehouse the next day. Decked out with modern equipment and even some stainless steel counters, the shop looks and smells like a real meat shop.
"This is our 40th year working together making sausage," said Henry Duray, Grand Forks. At 64, the recently retired manager of Grahams Island State Park is the old guy of the crew and the unofficial spokesman.
It's quite an operation.
By the time the smoke clears -- literally, as all of the meat goes into three smokehouses outside the shop -- the Durays and Kaspricks will turn 357 pounds of venison from seven whitetail bucks into 650 pounds of sausage. That includes everything from Italian and Polish sausage -- of course -- to "Slim Jim's," summer sausage and their famous "Polish Baloney."
"We're known to have pretty good sausage," Duray said. "We used to mix up all our own spices. Nowadays, the spices are pretty good. You find the right one you like, just buy it."
It's a time-honored tradition for Duray, his brother, Dennis, and their cousin, Jim Kasprick, the leaders of this sausage-making brigade.
"It's the three of us that anchor it," Duray said. Then as now, making sausage was part of the fabric of life. Time was, they even butchered their own hogs, but now they just buy the pork.
"Jim, Dennis and I, we've hunted together all our lives, but sausage making, it's all been here on farm," Duray said.