David Lindroth - Ottertail County, MN

More Than Rocket Science

David Lindroth’s family is pleasantly surprised that he hasn’t gotten lost in the 80 acres of forests, plantations, and wetlands he acquired in Ottertail County a few years back. Yet as a retired rocket scientist, there’s small chance of Lindroth losing his way. He uses his left brain and good spatial orientation to explore without a map or compass. It’s all part of his plan to make time for outdoor play in retirement.

And what a playground! Lindroth loves to tick off the daily wonders that reveal themselves in his northern woods. Strawberries invade open ground. Turkeys and pheasant routinely hunt and peck their way across fields. Sandhill cranes fly overhead, announcing their presence with a rolling bugle.

Lindroth’s biggest challenge is coaxing growth and good form from the hundreds of red pine, white spruce, and mixed hardwoods that were planted to reclaim a field in 1999. While many of the trees show good growth on the sandy/loam site, some struggle to survive amidst an onslaught of creatures.

Gophers nibble at the roots until the tree dies, burrowing through the “nice, soft soil” left by the planting machine, according to Lindroth. Deer browse the tops of trees until they either kill or destroy a tree’s form (by removing the terminal leader that helps the tree grow straight). Red clover and timothy were planted between rows to lure the animals away from trees, but this hasn’t seemed to stop the problem. Lindroth budcaps the trees, uses bloodmeal, and has even placed dryer sheets on individual trees, with mixed results.

But no matter. The small trees are growing and stand in beautiful contrast to the surrounding mature woods. Lindroth knows his “constant adventure” has just begun.