Farm Horizons, May 2007

Green or yellow, they are all Deere to this Winsted farmer

Linda Scherer
Herald Journal, Staff Writer

It doesn’t make any difference to Ed Fasching, a Winsted farmer his entire life, whether his tractors are green or yellow, he still considers John Deere his favorite.

It wasn’t his first tractor. That was a McCormick H, which he purchased in 1950. Up until that time, they were still using horses to farm.

He married Irene Matkowski the year before. They began farming on rented land southwest of Winsted, next to Ed’s parents, Joseph and Appolonia. The farmer next to Ed’s dad had retired. Ed’s father made him an offer to farm together and, if Ed helped out at home, he could use his dad’s equipment.

“I just had this feeling for farming. Growing crops, caring for them. I felt comfortable with it and it was all I had ever done,” Ed said.

The only time Ed didn’t farm was one winter, before he married, when he worked in Hopkins at the Minneapolis Moline factory. Even that didn’t make him change his mind about farming or John Deeres.

In 1953, Ed and Irene bought their own farm on Dairy Avenue, not too far from where Ed grew up. It was a 152-acre dairy and hog farm. As they could afford it, Ed purchased different machinery and much of it came from a John Deere salesman from Winsted named Clarence Sterner. Sterner had started a John Deere implement business, right in downtown Winsted. Ed gives Sterner the credit for selling him on the advantages of being a John Deere owner.

When it came time for Ed to upgrade the power he needed to keep his farm production up, Sterner sold him a new 1960 model John Deere tractor.

That was years ago, and Ed still prefers his John Deere tractors.

“I would stay with the John Deere,” Ed said. “I know how to run them and how to take care of them. The parts are always available,” he said. “Some of the other older models, the companies have gone out of business and it is hard to buy parts. There are plenty of John Deeres around and people are willing to sell the parts off of them, too.”

The first antique tractor Ed bought was his 1947 John Deere B. He found it at an auction in Silver Lake about 1985.

“I wanted to buy a standing John Deere engine on a cart,” Ed said. “It was too expensive so I decided to buy the John Deere B instead. The engine sold for $500. The John Deere B tractor I paid $200 for, and I got to drive the engine home.”

Ed’s second antique tractor wasn’t as easy to find. He had been looking for awhile. In 1993, he found his 1930 John Deere GP at a Cokato used implement dealer. He stalled, waiting to buy it for awhile because the price was too high for the condition that it was in. But after looking around for awhile and not finding another one like it, he bought it.

“It had been outside a lot,” Ed said. “There was not any paint left on it at all. I had to buy a new hood and new fenders because the other ones were so pitted.”

When Ed found his third antique tractor, the 1946 John Deere LI, which had already been restored, he did not even hesitate to buy it. It was something that he definitely wanted to own. It was a rare, hard-to-find model which he found at a John Deere Expo in Iowa.

“I always liked that style,” Ed said. “I remember when they came out. They were such a unique little thing. A garden tractor has more horsepower than that does. They came out to replace the work a team of horses would normally do. You would use the tractor on a small garden or very small farm operation. At that time, there were not many tractor sizes around. They had so many big ones, but nobody made small ones.”

The tractor is not only smaller than most John Deeres, but it is also yellow. It is painted yellow because it is considered an industrial tractor.

“It was not made to pull anything with. A lot of people will put a belly mower on it and use it to mow grass,” Ed said.

A lot of time was invested in restoring the first two tractors Ed purchased to like-new condition. The John Deere B was completely taken apart and sandblasted to get the paint all off. Once it was down to the bare metal, it received a new coat of paint.

Ed worked with a body shop to have some of the painting on the hood and lettering done professionally.

He did not have to do anything to any of the engines.

He doesn’t use the antique tractors for farming anymore, although when he first bought it, the John Deere B was used for blowing silage, raking hay, and he planted oats – just to give it a workout.

All three tractors get polished up every year for the Winsted and and McLeod county fairs.

Ed belongs to a two-cylinder club, specifically for John Deere tractors. That got him even more involved in antique tractors.

“I get the biggest charge out of the fun of restoring them, driving them, and keeping them running,” Ed said. Some of the other members will bring their tractors out to plow for special events, but Ed doesn’t.

His purchases were made for the enjoyment of owning and operating the antique equipment, but also because he wanted them to be an investment.

“You have to be so careful because some of the tractors increase in value every year, and other ones there are so many of them around, they lose value,” Ed said. “To overhaul them and to get them in good shape today costs so much money. It is just hard to keep them. When you sell them, you want to get the money you have invested.”

Is Ed looking for another tractor? Probably not. He and Irene live in Winsted now. Their home only has a garage and there is no additional storage on their property. Ed rents storage for his tractor collection on a farm outside of Winsted. The shed where he stores them has just enough room for the three, where he can keep them covered and protected. There just isn’t enough space for another one.

However, he does make it sound like he is always looking, just in case he would find a tractor that would be a good investment. If he were to buy another one, it might possibly be a John Deere 3010. The reason he gives is because it was the best tractor he ever bought.

“It is an economical tractor. Always ready to go. Not a big powerful one. Only 60 horsepower, cheap to run, and tough, too,” Ed said.

He sold the 1963 model to his son Jeff. Jeff and his wife, Mary, bought Ed and Irene’s farm in 1991. Ed helps Jeff out with some of the farm work on the farm, especially during the busy seasonal rushes.

Jeff has helped Ed with restoring his tractors.

“When I sold Jeff the 3010, I told him, if you take good care of it, I will buy it back from you. That tractor is a really good investment, double the price when they were new.”

Ed explained that the 3010 tractor is now getting a little too small for today’s farming and the equipment that is needed to keep up a lot of acres.

“Now, tractors are between 200 to 300 horsepower, pulling much bigger machinery,” Ed said. “They are so powerful, but man, the dollars you have to spend on them. It would cost you more than some farms did years ago.”

Ed and Irene have seven children. All of them graduated from Holy Trinity High School in Winsted:

• Cathy (‘68 HT graduate) is married to Brian Wolford and they live in Winsted. They have four boys and two grandchildren.

• Jeff Fasching (‘69 HT graduate) is married to Mary and they live in Winsted. They have three girls and five grandchildren.

• Colleen (‘72 HT graduate) is married to Paul Paurus and they live in Cottage Grove. They have four children.

• Lois (‘74 HT graduate) is married to Dave Danielson and they live in Winsted. They have three children and one grandchild.

• Sue (‘77 HT graduate) is married to Mike Sautel and they live in Skokie, Ill. They have two children.

• Paul (‘79 HT graduate) is deceased. He has one child.

• Kris (‘85 HT graduate) is married to Brent Sherman and they live in Lino Lakes. They have two girls.

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