MPW.70 / 2018 Laverne’s Onerous Work by John Happel
Photographer
John Happel Marshfield, Mass.
Team Chapnick

Story Summary

Laverne Yoder has met a lot of livestock at the end of their life. He works the kill floor in the back of his family’s small meat processing shop in Mountain Grove, Missouri. It’s a job that has its unpleasantries; but it is a necessary one; and most are neither inclined nor capable of doing the work that Laverne does. His family is formerly Amish from Elkhart County, Indiana and moved to Mountain Grove in 2010 to start anew. Amish tradition accustoms children to work alongside their relatives and families from a young age. His parents taught Laverne and his seven siblings to milk cows and to harvest chickens to help support the family before buying the butcher shop in 2015. Laverne processed his first steer on his own at the age of 17. The family’s vision was to have a place for the children to work alongside them, but that vision has begun to fade as the business slows and the children begin to strike out on their own. Laverne has given thought to joining three of his brothers who stayed behind in Indiana to work in RV assembly plants that are willing to hire workers from the surrounding Amish communities.