Nicola (“Nicky”) Noble loves to talk about her girls: all 153 of them.
As the general manager of Calder Dairy Farm in Carleton, Michigan, one of Nicky’s many jobs is to make sure that those girls — the Brown Swiss and Holstein cows that produce Calder’s milk daily — are happy, healthy and comfortable, enabling the dairy, after 70 years, to continue to produce, sell and deliver their fresh milk that is free of added hormones and still sold in glass bottles.
“Their barn is a free-stall one,” says Nicky, “and the girls are able to eat, drink and socialize as they wish.” She adds, “Each girl has a mattress, topped with straw, and the floor has rubber matting for their comfort. Their forage-and-grain food is grown right here on the farm and, during grass season, they are free to graze the pastures.”
Thermostatically controlled fans and side curtains maintain perfect barn temperatures, and their milking area is heated. The cows receive lots of human interaction, including pedicures and care from cheerful veterinarians, and they can groom themselves with automatic brushes.
“Not a bad life!” chuckles Nicky.
Each happily pampered cow produces about seven-and-a-half gallons of milk from two five-minute milkings each day. The milk is delivered from the farm to Calder Dairy in Lincoln Park, Michigan, where it is processed and bottled.
The Lincoln Park location was established by William Calder in 1946 when he purchased the dairy’s first delivery truck (a used, twelve-year-old laundry truck) with the bonus check he received from the Air Force. The location is also home to an ice cream parlor and a retail dairy store. From there, Calder Dairy supplies many wholesale outlets and 2,000 home delivery customers in Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw and southern Oakland counties.
“People love our service and the taste of the milk,” Nicky says. “We pasteurize it the old-fashioned way: at 155 degrees for 30 minutes, which purifies it but preserves the beneficial enzymes — and the rich, natural taste. And, with the product coming right from our farm, everything is fresh. We were ‘local’ before ‘local’ was fashionable!”
The 500-acre farm was originally purchased as a weekend family retreat and eventual retirement spot. When a neighbor suggested a cow as a means to help manage the grass growth, the Brown Swiss they purchased had a baby — and the dairy farm began.
Today, in addition to the cows, the farm has a store and an ice cream parlor with a large, attached country-kitchen style dining area that can be rented for birthday parties and other events, and there is also a covered pavilion area beside a waterfall and pond.
There are ducks, geese and goats that visitors (welcome daily from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.) can feed, and milking can be observed at 4 p.m. For groups of fifteen or more, private tours can be pre-arranged.
“William Calder’s son, John, lives here and runs the business, working daily at the dairy, also,” states Nicki. “John is dedicated: to the environment; to bridging the gap between farmers and our city neighbors by educating people about agriculture and providing the opportunity to be on a real, working farm; and to maintaining the values — and quality production and delivery services — established by his father in 1946.”
The most musically sophisticated album yet by Ladd Biro, as exemplified in his first track Transition, makes a solid case for why he’s deserving of acclaim. On his title track, Biro has combined an Earth, Wind & Fire feel with new modern, and synched the two musical genres with a jazzy sling which provides Transition with a near-universal appeal for all audiences.
The eclectic background vocals through this latest endeavor offer a grounding point for Biro’s smooth range and whether embarking on originals or old standards, his style favors a feathery touch which results in the album carrying a light and suspended quality.
“I worked collectively (with other musicians) and found out that music just wasn’t notes on a page but how a person reacts with the music both in a group and singularly,” Biro says. “I like the attitude of working with people when everybody is willing to try something new and that helps the musicians to feed off one another.”
She’s Lying, for instance, floats on a bluesy rendition of universal hurt that reaches forward from a flickering classical guitar complemented by piano and horn solos that wave over harmonious back-ground vocals.
In Way Down South—an upbeat and energetic perky tune that’s easy to like—Biro‘s temperament and metaphoric musical talent is defined with mesmerizing melodic lines. The same can be said of Barbara Brown, which Biro wrote in homage to a high school friend. The uplifting tempo reminds one of listening to Chicago when they were the Chicago Transit Authority back in the early 70s.
However nothing compares to I Gotta Feeling—this writer’s favorite—which has the potential to become a series hit across several musical platforms. Bustling with creative energy, I Gotta Feeling is yet another example of Biro drawing on his musical roots and orchestrating a cross-pollination of musical personalities, including the 1960s, classic country, laughter and ingenious storytelling.
“When you have a good piece of music and good lyrics to go along with it, you have a marriage of sorts,” Biro stressed. “When you can convey that, and have a musical brain to draw on that—a la George Martin—you’re able to present to an audience and the end result often is that you won’t find a dry eye in the house when you’re finished performing the piece.”
This mindset is exemplified in Biro’s Days Gone By and Stronger On My Own—cool ballads which offer a glimpse into Biro’s vast vocal range, as does Falling For The Lady. The latter, in particular, is a classic soft and serene flowing anthem that blends well with a glass of wine and romantic interlude in front of a cozy fire.
Maybe That Someone Is You is a lovely duet with singing group Velvet—members of Biro’s vocal team—that allows him to engage in a musical dance while delivering heart-tugging dialogue. The love ballad One, conveys a similar tempo and feel as the aforementioned tune, with a dreamy, almost whispered melody and complex tonalities sure to calm the soul.
Another stylistic musical adventure comes together in You’re Watching Me Watching You, offering a catchy refrain with trenchant grooves and graceful melodies, as Biro’s vocals tiptoe catlike, over bass and treble lines.
Good Music Classic is a funky, rockabilly tune of the highest calling while Until We Meet Again offers an uplifting combination of strong background vocals with an underlying presence of strong and traditional country guitar twang—another of this writer’s favorites.
“I think John Lennon said it the best,” Biro offered. “A good song stands. It’s that simple. A good song stands.”
Biro has been playing clubs as a pianist, saxophone and guitar in various bands for four decades and overall, his voice has reached a new plateau. He’s enriched himself and his music with this latest album, highlighted by eclectic background vocals and his own refreshing vocal clarity. His ballads are a bit similar in tempo and style, but overall great for the easy listening crowd. It’s his up-tempo tracks are the most impressive with rumbling bass lines, mashing piano chords and mesmerizing guitar solos that reflect a poised musical refinement throughout each track.
In conclusion, Transition spotlight’s Biro’s styles and abilities both as a vocalist and as a songwriter. For someone who has already accomplished so much through his vocal talents, songwriting and instrumentation, Biro appears poised to become an even larger musical presence in the future.
To find out more about Ladd Biro, and to purchase his music, head to Roscoe Records.
Since infants can sleep upwards of 12-18 hours a day, the mattress on which they sleep should be made of the most natural materials possible.
That’s why Rory Karpathian, owner of Beds by Design, now sells all-natural crib mattresses from his store in downtown Rochester. This brand-new line of crib mattresses offers a major difference from the typical mattress that consumers can purchase at “big-box” or other name-brand mattress stores.
Karpathian understands the differences between mattress products. He worked many years for some of the largest mattress companies in the world, and Karpathian wants to educate consumers on the differences.
“You’re talking about mattresses where the materials are actually toxic,” said Karpathian. “These are petroleum-based products that aren’t in any way natural.”
That can be particularly harmful for infants, who are going through their most critical developmental years. It is during the first three to five years of an infant’s life when parents should be the most conscientious about their child’s health.
The typical mattress is made of petroleum-based foam, an artificial, synthetic product that does not breathe. A crib mattress from Beds by Design is made of wool and natural-rubber, and comes with a lifetime warranty. It is better able to support the head and body of an infant.
“One of the benefits of an all-natural mattress is that it is really good for posture, and again this is a major issue for infants,” Karpathian said. “The bones and bodies of an infant are developing and you don’t want to take shortcuts. It’s something that parents should be aware of – but it’s not the type of message you see or hear on television because the large manufacturers don’t want you to know how their crib mattresses are made.
Crib mattresses should be extremely firm by nature so that there will be less danger of an infant suffocating, Karpathian said. Consumer Reports agrees, saying that the biggest mistake parents make in picking a mattress for their children is selecting “a mattress that’s comfortable for them.” And where a foam and petroleum made mattress doesn’t breathe, wool and natural-rubber moves perspiration and drool from an infant away from their body. That’s because wool naturally wicks away moisture and helps maintain a constant body temperature. An infant will sleep cool in the summer and warm in the winter without overheating. Wool also does not hold in heat.
Rory Karpathian, President of Beds by Design, with a mattress made for infants, pictured at his Harbor Springs location, Thursday April 23, 2015. (Photo by: Vaughn Gurganian)
One of the many benefits of this fact is that a naturally-made mattress can help to prevent bed rashes on an infant’s skin.
“Wool maintains your body temperature which is just common sense,” Karpathian said.
Consumer Reports agrees that a foam mattress offers several drawbacks. According to the respected product testing publication, “the cheapest foam and innerspring mattresses have thin vinyl coverings and edgings that can tear, crack, and dry out over time.”
Beds by Design can make a customized, all-natural crib mattress for infants that have a lifetime guarantee in just two weeks on average at its Harbor Springs manufacturing and showroom facility. Each mattress is made to order than shipped to the customer eliminating the need stock mattresses in the store, and doesn’t wrap them in plastic as a way to maintain that level of integrity. The quality of such mattresses means that they can be kept within a family for many years for future infants.
Each Beds by Design mattress is purposely designed to relieve pressure from hip and shoulder areas, allowing the contours of a body to be properly supported. It allows your infant to feel like he or she is sleeping on a cloud without the threat of body impressions that will mar that mattress forever.
Rory Karpathian, President of Beds by Design, with a mattress made for infants, pictured at his Rochester location, Thursday April 23, 2015. (Photo by: Vaughn Gurganian)
An all-natural crib mattress also makes for a perfect shower gift for a family, Karpathian said. The cost of the handmade, all-natural crib mattress starts at around $650. Special sizes and orders are also available. Mattresses for youth, teens and adults are also available at the Rochester location of Beds by Design and all are made with the same natural materials.
“The key is really to educate people about the differences,” Karpathian said.
Beds by Design is located at 111 W. 3rd Street in Rochester. It is open five days a week, 10:00 to 6:00 Tuesday through Friday and 10:00 to 5:00 on Saturday. Learn more by calling (248) 923-2153.
One successful cancer battle is enough to render anyone grateful and humble, if not entirely spent and reinvented.
So when Sacramento’s James Williams relentlessly shook free after twice stiff-arming Hodgkin’s, his eyesight sharpened, especially his entrepreneurial vision.
And it started with, of all things, a picnic.
Williams and his wife of 20 years, Kate, were coming off a second bout with cancer when the two decided a park picnic was in order. While the two unwound around the picnic basket, Williams’ business model came into focus.
“We sat there for 2 ½ hours, completely relaxed,” he said. “It felt like a mini-vacation.”
It was that afternoon that Sacramento Picnic Company was born. The business is, as one would imagine, exactly as it sounds – a team of professionals dedicated to hand-crafting and renting fully loaded, high-quality picnic baskets stuffed with locally grown culinary delights. Many picnic basket menu items rival what one would find in the most discerning dining rooms.
“From there we got our ducks in a row, started sending friends on picnics and started doing test runs,” he said.
Williams has taken a brilliant concept – the simplistically wholesome, blissful tranquility of an outdoor picnic – rendering it easily accessible to picnic-goers, while supporting local farmers, growers and foodsmiths. Imagine yourself, spread out on the cool grass with your favorite person, open bottle of wine, noshing on everything from smoked trout to local meats and cheese, to fresh salads and decadent desserts. And you never had to lift a finger to make it happen.
James Williams, Owner of Sacramento Picnic Company
Following some positive feedback through the social network – mainly Twitter and Facebook – the Sacramento Picnic Company became whole.
A picnic is pleasant. It is an enjoyable event that typically includes nice weather, fresh air, great company and some delicious food, while relaxing in a state of leisure and dining al fresco. However, it doesn’t appear that the average picnic occurs as often as folks would like. Life gets in the way of such pampering. It’s not until we see two other people in the park enjoying a picnic lunch that we think, “Hey, we should do that.”
And it’s easy to see why the concept of picnicking easily goes from top-of-mind to “next time, maybe” with the swiftness. On paper, it sounds great. But the legwork can be daunting and time-consuming. First, dig up a basket. How many people have a legit picnic basket on their property? We guess that it’s not very many.
It’s then to the grocery store for food, wine and anything else that makes the meal complete. Between prepping, packing and finding a comfortably quiet locale, well, one can get burned out before spreading out that checkered blanket on the clover.
The Sacramento Picnic Company takes care of it – all of it. And it does so with a beautiful attention to detail, palate and community.
The Sacramento Picnic Company is definitely a niche business, providing a very specialized service. Communities strengthen with unified and diverse business landscapes, according to Peter Tateishi, president and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.
“Small businesses are a critical economic driver to our region’s growing economy and businesses like the Sacramento Picnic Company, that are unique to the region, help build upon the economic momentum we are seeing in Sacramento,” Tateishi said.
From farm to fork
For Williams, the operation is simple but comprehensive. Diners select between one of four themed baskets (more themes are forthcoming), which include real plates, silverware, sparkling water and food. The latter is a particular point of pride for Williams, as he maintains that all ingredients be as locally sourced as possible. Sacramento-area farmers, bakers and foodies all play a role in the from-the-farm-to-the-fork commitment.
“There are more and more people who want to get away from mass produced food,” Williams said. “Sacramento has a great farmers market. When you taste it, it’s so much better.”
And that is difficult against which to argue, as the basket options and menu therein are smartly curated with not just locally grown goods, but toothsome ones as well.
“We load up the baskets with four courses,” Williams said. “The absolute last thing I wanted to do was to put a sandwich and a bag of chips in them.”
Inspired by the progressive culinary atmosphere in and around Sacramento, as well as the proximity of popular wineries, Williams’ basket options are impressively well thought out. Theme baskets include:
The Italia Basket – The company’s most popular, it includes prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, fresh caprese salad, cremini mushrooms with white truffle and cannoli.
Summer Basket – Smoked trout with farro and summer vegetable salad, charcuterie and dark chocolate mousse.
Wine Tour Basket – Smoked salmon and chipotle deviled eggs with California caviar, couscous and grilled vegetable salad, smoked grass-fed beef and chocolate-dipped strawberries. And,
Southern Basket – Bread and butter pickles, baby potato salad with Applewood smoked lardons, muffaleta sandwich and banana pudding.
Basket costs range from $69 to $99. The baskets, custom-built with two handles and wicker by the Peterboro Basket Company in New Hampshire, stay with the customer for 24 hours before being returned to designated drop-off and pick-up locations, which for now include area wineries. Williams said a more comprehensive pick-up grid, including an online system, is presently in the works.
Baskets are available on Saturdays and Sundays only, with greater availability coming soon. For more information, visit the Sacramento Picnic Company on Facebook.
Sacramento Picnic Company
Randy Martin never considered going to medical school, but every day, for the past 26 years, he has donned crisp, blue surgical scrubs, driven his white van with ambulance strobe flashers and helped make hundreds of people of all ages feel healthier and happier as the owner of The Bicycle Doctor in Hazel Park.
In 1989, after years of working in Detroit area bike shops, Martin bought a van and started his own business, becoming the Bicycle Doctor, repairing bikes throughout Oakland County.
“I realized it was a great way to help families right in their own driveways,” Martin said. “Customers make appointments and, unlike the family doctor, I never keep them waiting.”
“I arrive with my ambulance lights flashing, ready with my black medical bag and stethoscope, which is a modified tire gauge. And any repair I can make in the shop, I can easily do from the van, too.”
The “Hospital Gift Shop”
Martin, 53, purchased the Continental Bike Shop shop on John R. in 1996. The recently-renamed store boasts an Emergency Room (in-house service department), a Hospital Gift Shop (parts and accessories) and a Neonatal Unit (new bicycles).
There are brands and styles of bicycles for every type of rider, including Bianchi, Giant, KHS, Electra, Lynskey and Waterford.
The Bicycle Doctor carries kids’ bikes, road bikes, tourist bikes, hybrids, cruisers, mountain bikes, flat-bar road bikes, adult tricycles and dual-sport bikes.
“You really have to know what you’re actually going to use the bike for,” Martin said. “We don’t oversell you. We try to listen to your needs and fill those needs properly.”
Martin’s business philosophy also includes, in addition to making a little bit of money to live on, being fair and helpful — and having fun.
“What’s fun for me,” Martin explained, “is seeing a kid getting on his first bicycle or an 80-year-old stopping in to tell me about his rides and that he feels like a kid again. That’s what makes it fun for me.”
The “Neonatal Unit”
The Bicycle Doctor also provides many opportunities for customers to have fun, in the store and on the road.
“On Wednesday evenings when the weather is good and above 60 degrees, we have what we call casual or slow-roll rides,” Martin said. “We ride in the area from 6:30 until 8 p.m., and then we go to dinner together. It’s a very relaxed way to ride with a group, get exercise and enjoy the local scenery.
“On Friday nights we have a higher-paced road bike ride into Detroit, and we find a different, unique place to eat there. Since we ride until 10:30 or 11 p.m., all bikes on these Friday night rides must have the proper safety lights.”
When the weather is not favorable for riding, The Bicycle Doctor shows in-store movies on Friday evenings and holds trainer classes on Wednesday evenings.A trainer is a stand that the bike is attached to, allowing for riding or training in place.
The Bicycle Doctor also offers basic and advanced maintenance classes, and personal fittings are available for every bike that is purchased.
“In addition to finding the right frame size for you,” Martin said. “We position the seat, brake levers, handlebars and shifters — all to make sure that you are comfortable and feel safely in control. This is something that department stores don’t do. A bike from a department store might last a season. From a store like ours, and when serviced, they can last for years and even maintain great resale value!”
One of The Bicycle Doctor’s most memorable fittings was from a married couple who wanted to incorporate bicycling into their weight-loss program.
“They each purchased an Electra Townie, a fun and easy bike to ride with wide tires and a plush saddle,” Martin said. “Several months later, the woman came into the store, and I didn’t recognize her. She had lost 150 pounds. Her husband had lost 80 pounds. Bikes can be a lifestyle changer.”
The March 16, 2014 issue of Health and Wellness Digest listed a number of ways that cycling improves health. One benefit listed is that cycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise since it can be done almost anywhere and at any time, with little risk of physical — or financial — strain.
The article explains that, though cycling strengthens leg muscles, burns calories, builds stamina and improves coordination, it also greatly improves the mobility of hip and knee joints and increases cardiovascular fitness (by 3 to 7 percent for those who bike daily) and reduces stress.
In addition to overall heath, the team at The Bicycle Doctor is very concerned about the obesity of today’s kids — as well as adults.
“I love it when parents come in to buy for their kids. This Christmas, a family bought bikes for their four children, ages six through 11 “It’s a fantastic way for kids to feel great and keep in shape – and a real stress reliever for all ages!”
In addition to providing opportunities for fitness and recreation, a bicycle can be a very economical and pleasant mode of transportation, and one that does not have a negative effect on the environment.
According to the 2009 National Household Travel Survey, 40 percent of daily trips are shorter than two miles. The survey also states that one in 12 households does not have an automobile, and 13 percent of people 15 years and older do not drive.
Ferndale mom Kristi Soave smiled as she related her visit to The Bicycle Doctor.
“I took my daughter, Stephania, and her bike to see The Bicycle Doctor because the bike had a broken brake lever,” Soave said. “Randy was dressed in scrubs and remarked on the bike’s ‘broken arm.’” ‘Yes,’ I agreed, and then I pointed to a disconnected cable. ‘And a torn ligament, also.’ “
“We keep the bikes rolling, for basic transportation, for health, and for pleasure,” Martin said. “We keep records on all of our ‘patients,’ the bikes we take care of. One of the things that sets us apart is that we test ride everything we repair; when it’s fixed, it’s really fixed. Whether I’ve made a house call or the ‘patient’ has been brought to our shop on John R., the Bicycle Doctor is always in.”
The Bicycle Doctor
24436 John R. Road
Hazel Park, MI 48030