Peggy Meseroll & Family, Esko MN

Just because you inherit land, doesn’t mean you’ll inherit a love for it. Fortunately, Peggy Meseroll’s father, Ray Maki, was adept at passing on both, and his legacy lives on through his children.

“I remember playing in the woods when I was a kid, and that’s where my love for trees started,” Peggy reminisced. “All of us kids spent time in the woods helping Dad make firewood for an indoor wood stove and a sauna we had in the basement.”

Ray and Katharine Maki bought a 120-acre farm outside of Esko in northeastern Minnesota in 1946, adding to it over the years. After several years as a small dairy farmer and beef producer, Ray went to work full time off the farm in the late 60’s. “Dad had raised oats and hay for feed, and he didn’t want the fields to go to brush. That’s when he started getting trees from General Andrews Nursery. He planted thousands of trees every year, mostly red pine, with some spruce and fir, too, depending on the terrain.”

As a welder/pipefitter for Conoco with a flair for inventing, Maki put his skills to use in his reforestation plan. “Dad put a tree planter on the back of our tractor that us kids sat in, planting thousands of seedlings. To combat weed pressure, he invented and welded his own stainless steel attachment for the front of the tractor that applied herbicide on either side of the seedlings.” The newly planted trees got a head start on the competition, and Maki’s invention went on to be used by other tree planters.

When her folks passed away, Peggy and siblings Scott and Mary put the land in an LLC. “Each of us live on a piece of the original farm. I joined MFA in 2008 and contacted the DNR to set up a new forest management plan. In 2013 we started implementing part of the plan with some thinning in one 40 acre plot, and a clear cut in part of another 40. This year we worked with Jan Bernu, a private forester I met through the Woman’s Woodland Association. Jan helped us contract with Bell Timber to selectively harvest red pines for utility poles in two other 40-acre sites.”

Asked what advice she might like to pass on to others, Peggy was quick to respond. “I get a lot of good information from the meetings I go to and the publications I read, but I don’t have much time to share it with my siblings. There are things we could do to manage our land better. Our first priority should be to talk with all of our own children about their interests in the land so we can start making plans for the future. Hopefully, we can pass on my dad’s dream and hard work to the next generation.”