Ken & Bobbi Quass, Pine River MN

In 2002, after a career as an architect based in the Twin Cities, Ken Quass retired and moved with his wife, Bobbi, to their country place. They have 80 wooded acres near Pine River in Cass County. Their land includes 900 feet of shoreline on Horseshoe Lake, which is one of five lakes of that name in the county. This one is small, just 85 acres.

The land and cabin with its outbuildings had been in the family since the 1960s. “During our weekender years, we’d mostly came up to mow, plant a few trees and do a little maintenance,” said Ken.

Then, in early 2002 in anticipation of their move to the land, they hired a contractor to build a home. Ken said, “We had the choice of building on the old cabin site, about 400 feet from the lake, where the other buildings are located or down by the lake. We chose to build a basic farm-type log home on the old cabin site.”

Ken and Bobbi have a son and daughter living in the Twin Cities, another daughter living in Kansas City and a third daughter in Austin Texas. After doing a lot of flying during his working career, Ken now prefers to drive. “To visit the kids,” Ken said, “it is 2 ½ hours to the Twin Cities, 9 hours further on to Kansas City and 11 hours beyond that to Austin.”

This past spring, Ken began experimenting with what he calls his exotics. “I went up to Itasca Greenhouse in Cohasset and bought 10 each of various species. Among them are Canaan fir, hemlock, Colorado white spruce, Douglas fir, Siberian spruce and a cross between Canaan-balsam cross.” So far, they seem to be doing o.k., particularly those that were planted in sunny spots.”

“We also have some volunteer white pine but the deer eat most of them,” said Ken. “For the first time ever I bought a deer hunting license this year.” If he does go out hunting, it sounds as though his motivation will be as much to protect his small white pines as to fill his freezer. (Editor’s note: For others with deer problems on white pine, see George Anderson’s bud capping process in the December – January 2010 issue of Minnesota Woodlands. Find it under newsletters on MFA’s web site at

“It might be the German in me,” Ken says, “but I like things neat and tidy.” To help clean up his woods, he bought a wood chipper last spring. “My 28-horse John Deere tractor is big enough to run the machine and chip wood up to five inches.”

The thing Ken likes best about MFA field day events is the chance to sit with other woodland owners and trade stories. So, if you would like to tell a few stories about adventures on your woodland, look for Ken at our nest MFA event!