People to meet

Homer Krehbiel processes specialty meats from lamb to ostrich

By Ron Wilson

Meet Homer Krehbiel of McPherson.  Homer is the entrepreneur who created this meat processing enterprise that offers beef, pork, lamb, turkey, chicken, elk, goose, buffalo, duck, emu, ostrich and water buffalo.

But it has not been easy.

Our story begins on the Krehbiel family dairy farm.  In 1951, Krehbiel started milking cows with his folks on the farm north of McPherson, which at that time had a population of 8,689 people.

After graduating from McPherson College and teaching two years, McPherson went into farming full time.  Then disaster struck.

One day in 1978, Homer was mixing some feed when his hand got caught in a roller mill, stuck where no one would find him.  He thought he might bleed to death and tried to cut off his hand to free himself.

But being a man of deep faith, he finally bowed his head and gave himself up to the Lord.  At that moment, he says, his hand came free. He called the ambulance himself.

Krehbiel’s life was saved but his hand was not.  Doctors removed what was left of his hand.  He continued farming for some years, but he had always had a dream of having a little country store there on the farm.  So he converted a garage, bought some old freezers, and started selling beef.

That was the beginning.

Today, the Krehbiel family has two businesses employing nearly 50 people: Krehbiel’s Specialty Meats, which is a processing and shipping facility on the family farm, and Krehbiel’s Meat Market and Deli, a retail outlet in McPherson just off I-35.

At the retail market, a person can dine in or pick up a wide variety of food products.  Krehbiel’s meats are on sale at such places as the state fair and Kansas Sampler Festival.

His online store at www.healthymeats.net offers find a wide variety of meat products plus gift certificates, sauces and seasonings, pies, pet treats, and more.  The meat is source verified, identity preserved, USDA inspected, and tenderness guaranteed, with no added hormones or artificial ingredients, Krehbiel said.

Krehbiel’s processes meat for about 60 individuals or companies for their use or sale under their own label.

“We have some big companies, but we also do the small farmer with a few head and the hunter who needs a deer processed,” he said, adding, “There isn’t anything we won’t tackle.”

Krehbiel’s ships coast to coast every week.

Homer sees his business as part of a growing food movement.

“Wine connoisseurs like to know where the grapes come from.  I think that’s where we’re going with our food supply in general, because people want to know where their food was produced,” he said.

“I’ve found that the more you help other people, the more you get back,” he added.

Mr. Wilson is director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University. This story from May 7, 2008 was originally written for Wilson’s radio show called Kansas Profile. He saluted Homer Krehbiel and his staff for making a difference with their innovation, entrepreneurship, and service.  “It’s an example where hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit can meet,” Wilson said.