A question of appreciation

Just how a strenuous profession can also be a wonderful profession is shown by a visit to the Family Matter’s farm in Ennetmoos. It is a good example of the tireless dedication of our producers.

A great deal has changed in agriculture, but it still is one of the most wonderful things you can do.
Joseph Matter

If you drive up to the farm run by Joseph “Seppi” Matter early in the morning, you find yourself surrounded by the mystical atmosphere of a fantasy novel. Fine wisps of fog waft through the moist, dew-covered forest, the first rays of sun shy peek through the tops of the trees and suddenly it appears: the nearly romantic seeming picture book farm run by the Matter family.

The view over Stansstad to the Lake Lucerne is phenomenal. The animals, however, seem to care little for this rather kitschy panorama; the visitor driving up the gravel driveway is much more interesting. With a mixture of shyness and curiosity, the farm dog Bunny, the newborn calves and the Rupromi piglets that are just a few weeks all have a look.

Micarna – Joseph Matter, pig rearing

Close contact to the animals

Living on Seppi Matter’s farm in Burach, above Ennetmoos, are 24 brown cows and 144 Rupromi fattening pigs. “It is a marvellous location, especially on a morning like this”, says the 37 year-old, whereupon his wife Helene adds: “Others travel to go on holiday; we have our holiday here.” Perhaps the everyday life on the family’s farm cannot truly be described as a holiday. Together with Joseph’s parents and a part-time employee, Joseph and Helene Matter farm more than 21 hectares of meadowland situated between 650 and 800 metres above sea level in mountain zones 1 and 2.

Day after day, the father and his son can be found in the barn looking after their livestock – and regardless of they are inside or outside in the meadows, the two experienced farmers notice every change no matter how slight. “Today you can automate things a great deal more, such as feed regulation for the pigs. But I prefer to do it manually; I want to be with my animals in the barn. In that way I can see right away if an animal is having a problem”, explained Joseph Matter.

Micarna – Joseph Matter, pig rearing

Plenty of light and fresh air

Although Seppi Matter prefers direct contact to his animals and performs a lot the work manually or at least supervises it, the farm is amongst the most modern in the region. The barns were newly built just a few years and equipped with the latest technology. They are especially impressive with plenty of light and good air circulation. If you stand in the calves stable on a sunny morning you might even be a bit jealous – many would like to have such a view. “The light was important to us. When it is warm in the summer, we have the front of the barn open, while in winter we can pull up a translucent wall. This keeps the barn pleasantly warm and nevertheless well lit.” The family invested nearly 2 million francs in the barn. It was a project that pays out not just for the animals: “We carried out all the investments with Swiss partners, and even regional ones wherever possible. In this way, the money stays in Switzerland, in our economy.”

Micarna – Joseph Matter, pig rearing

Commitment and hardships

In the end, it is all a question of appreciation – something that sometimes is lost when it comes to farmers. “Many people think that you simply stand around the barn a bit and receive money from the government,” explained Matter. That is a prejudice that hurts. Especially when you see the work and lifeblood family puts into the farm and looking after the livestock. And that nearly entirely on the side: Seppi Matter works full-time as a machinist in a construction company down in the village.

Nevertheless, he knew quite early on that he would take over the farm from his parents, after all, it has been in the family for 150 years. “It is a lot of work, but is it also wonderful. The work in the barn, as strenuous as it is, is somehow calming, something that does you good. You may never forget just how much dedication goes into it. We work hard for our dream, invest a lot and go without a lot as well.”

Stable successors sought

Who knows if he will one day hand the farm over to his children? So far the enthusiasm of Pascal (6), Ilona (5) and Manuel (3) for the farm is apparent. Ultimately, the three live on their own big adventure playground and like to help visiting and inspecting the pigs. According to Ilona, there is still something missing on the farm, something crucial. “I would like to have a pony. Unfortunately, we don’t have a pony”, explained the five year-old who in the meantime saddles up the farm dog Bunny with her neckerchief. 

And what does the father think about his daughter's wish? “I don’t know if we need a pony. Luckily she is also interested in the calves, cows and pigs.” But he does hope that the tradition of the Matter family farm will also continue into the future. “Of course, a great deal has changed in farming, but it is still one of the most wonderful things that you can do”, he says and indicates with his hand the brown cows in the meadow behind him above the new pig barn and looks down towards Lake Lucerne. Luckily, with this view, it is easy to forget that the pony still is lacking.