MORGAN, Minn. — A special joy of my work is meeting you special folks who help make America special. I met one of these special persons at Farmfest this year. Meet Howard Paschke, 93 years old living in the Blue Earth area and claiming he’s attended every Farmfest since Day 1 — even the ‘mud bowl’ at Lake Crystal when many vehicles needed a pulling assist to depart muddy parking lots that year.
What keeps Paschke coming back each year?
Get this: Paschke says, “Because I want to keep learning. You’ve got to be inquisitive to keep up with the times … otherwise you get behind pretty fast.”
So how does that pertain to younger guys wanting to become farmers? His simple and concise response: “Be honest. My biggest quality is I love the Lord. My grandmother came over from Poland. Her mother had died in childbirth, so my grandma was an only child … was raised by an uncle who was a slave driver. So she had a harsh upbringing. I was the first grandchild and she loved me. I liked to sit in her lap. Rather than chase off to the movie theater like most kids, I went to grandma’s house. She would sing to me … and pray with me. So consequently I was well-taught by my grandma to believe in Jesus”
Paschke obviously believes in the sanctity of marriage. His marriage produced five girls; but only one married a farmer and they later got divorced. Says Paschke, “So now I’ve got a farm with a set of buildings setting empty and I’m not happy about that.” He quietly muttered, “You don’t win them all.”
His grandson, Josh Manske, joined us. Manske drives Paschke to Farmfest and a few other locations on Paschke’s agenda. Manske’s father runs a tiling operation at Algona, Iowa (Precision Draining and Excavating Company). He said his dad got quite a bit of tiling late winter/early spring and some summer tiling for organic farmers.
Said Manske (who works in farm management services with a southwest Iowa firm), “Yes, farm income likely to be squeezed down some this season. The input costs going into next season could be an issue we’re looking at. Plus we’re always keeping an eye on fertilizer costs.”
But now time for more of Paschke’s history: “My dad was the first in our county to have rubber tires on his farm tractor … his WD45 Allis Chalmers in 1932. We were almost 50 years in the implement business when my Dad had to retire and I had to go into the Army. And that’s why I don’t hear so good today … too much cannon firing when overseas.”
Paschke readily admits to being bullish on orange paint. “My first tractor I drove was an Allis Chalmers U model when I was 7. So I’ve been in this orange business until now when the AgCo bought the business. Yep, as an old-time observer, this new world today seems a bit cranky and undecided about what to do next. I pay attention to what I see and hear these days so I’m wondering more and more if people are totally confused about what’s going on.”
Paschke reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper with this inscription: “Accept what is; Let go of what was; Have Faith in what will be!”
“Like my Grandmom told me years ago, keep faith with God and your destiny will be forever.” Good message, Howard Paschke. The good Lord willing, I’d treasure meeting Howard again at 2022 Farmfest when he’s 94.