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Robin Huebner, Published September 21 2012

Robin Huebner reports: ‘Mr. John Deere’ pulls his weight for Father Jack’s Peruvian efforts

BUXTON, N.D. – A rural farmer here has a soft spot for people living in poverty halfway around the world, and he uses his skill with old tractors to lend a hand.

Don Dufner, also known as “Mr. John Deere,” has parted with a few of his favorite antiques to benefit the mission of the Rev. Jack Davis in Chimbote, Peru.

Just shy of age 75, Duf-ner grows organic wheat, peas, flax, oats and edible beans. And he doesn’t rely on any fancy new equipment to get the job done. He still uses the two-cylinder models.

“You know, the old ones that go ‘putt, putt, putt,’ ” he said.

Dufner’s interest in John Deere tractors turned into a lifelong hobby.

He’s a fixture at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag and at county fair tractor pulls. He’s known for his “830 Special,” which is three tractors connected.

He even has an old John Deere with an aircraft engine in it.

“This is a toy,” he beams. “Got to keep up with the younger boys, you know.”

Dufner said some tractors in his collection are too valuable for farming, which got him wondering if he should keep or sell a particular one.

Dufner had traveled with family to visit Father Jack’s mission in Peru in 2007.

“I saw kids fighting over pencils we were handing out,” he says. “The last kid got the empty box.”

The experience left him wondering how he could help.

Dufner saw only two tractors in Chimbote.

“If they had an old John Deere there, I would have gone to work on that real fast,” he said.

He decided the way he could help was to sell a tractor or two, and ask the buyer to write the check to Father Davis.

The first one “was a really scarce tractor. I think they only made 100 of them.” He sold another to a friend a few months back.

“It gives me a good feeling,” Dufner said. “There are other things I could have bought with the money, but this is more satisfying.”

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