“When my parents were in their late 30s, my father’s parents died, and the family farm was put up for sale and there was no way for my dad to continue farming in Switzerland. There were ads in an agricultural magazine about farms for sale in Wisconsin and my parents made the very difficult decision of leaving their homeland to come to a new country. My father, Michel, was always a farmer at heart and it was the only way he could continue following his dream. So, he flew over on a visa in October of 1966 and stayed with a family that had come from Switzerland years before. They told him winters here were really harsh and he would be better off waiting until spring to bring the family.

That fall, he found a farm, made a down payment, and returned to Europe for the winter in preparation for the big move in spring. Part of that was applying for our US residency. It was much simpler in those days so we got approved quickly.

My parents knew they were leaving their family and friends and moving to a different country where a different language was spoken and did not know when or if they would ever return. Our extended family figured they would never see us again. Leaving our homeland was extremely difficult.


The decision was made to bring the family automobile, a 1966 Volkswagon Beetle, and a small trailer which was loaded with a huge wooden box. All the possessions that we could bring had to fit inside that box. We drove down to Le Harve, France and boarded a ship that took us to Long Island, New York. When we arrived, we were processed through immigration and then drove from New York to Wisconsin and arrived in April of 1967 at our new home in Waumandee. I was four years old.

My dad got the name of a cattle dealer and he ordered 30 dairy cows for the farm. All of the money he had saved went towards the down payment of the farm so he was unable to purchase the cows outright. Luckily he was able to set up a bartering system with the cattle dealer which allowed him to pay by raising a certain amount of bull calves and giving them to him as a payment. For other expenses, the bank issued a loan and held a lien directly off of the milk check in order to be assured of their payments.

As I got older, I realized how hard it is to be a farming family. We were either milking, on a tractor, or preparing food; either for the animals or the humans. Mom did all the cooking and then she gardened and milked in the morning and at night. We butchered all our own meat and did everything ourselves. Mom would make the lard. She also knew how to pull the sausage casings out of the butchered animals and how to clean and prepare them. She made homemade butter and french bread. My father did all the field work and fed the cows while we milked. My brother (Maurice) and sister (Janine) also had to work extremely hard. They milked before and after school and spent the summer haying, and helping with everyday farm work. Haying was a big job in the summer, not like it is nowadays.