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Labor of Love': Meet the 77-Year-Old Female Deer Butcher From Michigan

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"Sometimes I think that maybe I'll give it up, but I just can't."

Barb Haveman, owner of Barb's Deer Processing, with a customer. (Photo: Cory Olsen/MLive.com)

Barb Haveman, owner of Barb's Deer Processing, with a customer. (Photo: Cory Olsen/MLive.com)

Barb Haveman is a 77-year-old living in Comstock Park, Mich. A few days ago she became a popular woman in her area -- at least for the next couple months.

You see, Haveman is a deer processor and last Thursday marked Opening Day of the hunting season, bringing in 39 deer to Barb's Deer Processing.

It might seem like an unlikely profession for the lady, but MLive's Cory Olsen writes on his article that she was raised around such a practice. According to Olsen's profile on Haveman, her grandfather owned a slaughterhouse.

"I used to sit there as a little girl and watch him," Haveman told Olsen. "It was just kind of neat, I liked it. Of course my mother didn't like me sitting out in the slaughterhouse with grandpa."

She didn't consider butchering as a career until after she sent some of her own pigs to the slaughterhouse and felt that she wasn't returned all her meat.

"[...] I started right then," Haveman said.

Haveman described that she started processing deer later as an avid hunter herself. Her first year she told MLive that she only processed seven deer. Fifty-five years into the business now, Haveman has six employees who help process more than 1,700 deer each season, according to MLive. She charges $75 per deer.

"It's something to do, it keeps me healthy," MLive reported Haveman saying. "I'm not walking around here with a cane yet, but I did just have a shoulder replaced. Sometimes I think that maybe I'll give it up, but I just can't. I love it. I love seeing the people come in, they're so nice. I don't think we ever have a bad hunter, they're always so nice. It's a labor of love."

The local ABC affiliate WZZM reported Haveman also donates leftover meat to the a local service center and area churches to help feed the hungry.

"Everybody is out of work right now and they don't have the food that we should be having and they don't have the wages to buy meat," she said according to WZZM. "Today's meat prices are quite high, so this here is one good thing that I love to do."

Watch WZZM's report with footage of Haveman:

In past years, Haveman's center has donated between 1,000 and 3,000 pounds of meat.

Read more about Haven in MLive's profile here.

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