CRAVEN, Sask. — When Gord Rumpel surveys the Saskatchewan landscape for fellow meat cutters, he is almost always the youngest.
At age 40, he said it’s rare to find anyone his age in the butchering business and even rarer to find those who own an abattoir.
Rumpel and his six older siblings grew up with butchering processes on the family mixed farm near Craven, Sask.
His dad, Albert, started a commercial abattoir in the mid-1980s, eventually building a large shop complete with a holding pen, slaughter floor, cooler for up to 45 sides of beef, two freezer rooms and a cutting area.
“We were out there helping as soon as we could walk and that’s just the way it was,” said Rumpel.
When his father died in 1993, Rumpel decided to be the one to continue his father’s legacy. With his mother, Justina, in charge of wrapping and bookkeeping, the pair built Rumpel Farms Abattoir into a busy enterprise.
“Right now, I’m booked three months in advance. I’d like to hire someone, but there’s really no one out there going into meat cutting,” said Rumpel.
Louise Malowany has been a customer of Rumpel Farms for more than 30 years.
“There’s nobody that does it like Gordie. They cut it the way you want it, they double wrap everything. …,” she said.
Rumpel said customers notice differences between his cuts and those from large-scale packers.
“For example with our hamburger, there’s no colour, additives or water so when you fry it, there’s no having to drain it several times. All of our beef is hung and aged and we know exactly where the cow came from and how it has been fed and handled,” he said.
The majority of his business comes from district farmers who bring cows, pigs and lambs to him for slaughter, cutting and wrapping.
He expects the cattle butchering to continue at a record pace in the coming year as farmers finish their cattle at home because of an abundance of feed grain from the 2014 harvest.
Rumpel said the business has given him a good work-life balance for his wife, Jennifer, who works full time in Regina, and their three children.
“The best thing about this job is the flexibility because I get to do stuff with the kids. I haven’t missed an ultrasound, I can take them to their appointments and I can take a day off if I really need to.”