If you head out to the farm where Roberto works, it will be hard to find him in one specific spot. He could be working in the shop, fixing the roof of the barn after a hail storm, or filling in for a co-worker in the milking parlor. He said he has been learning how to do many different things where he works; how to weld, repair machinery in the shop, and how to work with the animals better.
Roberto has had many different jobs here in states, from working on golf courses in South Carolina, to cutting pine trees in Arkansas, harvesting berries and tomatoes in Illinois, working in the tobacco fields and factories of Kentucky, constructing door frames on a new hotel in South Carolina, and finally, working on dairy farms here in Wisconsin. In Kentucky, he learned how to dry tobacco and operate machinery in the warehouse. When he started working in the warehouse for packing cigarettes, he saw how the machines improved. The first one they used made 3,000 cigarettes per minute and they had to collect all the cigarettes by hand. After he worked there for a little while, the company upgraded to a new machine that could make 8,000 cigarettes per minute and they didn’t have to collect them by hand anymore. As a result, there was not as much work for them.
“The cigarettes went straight to packaging and we didn’t have to touch them like before. Since they bought a lot of machines, we didn’t have as much work and were not earning much money. I asked the boss if they needed me anymore and they told me just a little so I decided to go back and see my family in Mexico for a few months and after that is when I came here to Wisconsin.”
He has been on three different farms here in Wisconsin for a total of almost 10 years so far. “When I started working on dairy farms, I learned new and interesting things. On the first farm I worked on, I learned how to take care of the calves and it was a lot of fun to care for them. The people were really nice there. The daughter of the owner taught me how to do many things and she told me I could always ask her if I had any questions. Here in Wisconsin, the work here is fun. It may seem challenging for other people, but I like it. If they tell me to do something, I don’t mind doing it.”
Even though Roberto said there were a fair amount of challenges and hardships along the way, he has been grateful for the journey. “There is a saying that we use in Mexico that if we have the desire to do something, we can make it happen. That’s what I’ve been trying to do here.”