It can be easy to set aside Ree Drummond's regular life and think of the incredible lady through her persona, The Pioneer Woman, that began as a blog and is now an American empire. When the Drummonds aren't busy giving tours of the Lodge, the set of her Food Network television show, or running The Mercantile, they're keeping busy both in Pawhuska, Oklahoma and on the ranch. As construction continues on the Boarding House, the new 8-room hotel the Drummonds are building downtown, it can be hard to remember that despite all of this, life on the Drummond ranch must continue. And for all of her effort in the food space, Ree Drummond is, first and foremost, a wife and mother on a cattle ranch.
Recently, the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, also known as CattleCon, opened on January 31, 2018. Ree Drummond was invited as the keynote speaker in Phoenix, Arizona. Maybe you're not too familiar with the cattle operation on the ranch, so here's a quick recap.
The Drummonds' Cattle Operation
Ladd and Ree Drummond run a successful cow calf operation outside of Pawhuska on the ranch. In fact, it's not just any ranch. The Oklahoma Historical Society documented the beginning of the ranch to present. As the OHS states, "Drummond ranching in Osage County, Oklahoma, traces its roots to Frederick Drummond (1864-1913) who came to the former Osage Nation, Indian Territory, at age twenty-two in 1886." Drummond originally emigrated from Scotland and moved from New York to Texas, then onto St. Louis before settling in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
The Drummonds didn't begin ranching until 1913, when the three sons of Frederick and Addie Drummond, established ranches in Osage and Marshall counties. This quickly became, as the Oklahoma Historical Society tells it, "more than two hundred thousand acres in Oklahoma and southern Kansas."
So that's the story of how Ladd Drummond, or Marlboro Man if you're familiar with her blog, came to grow up on this land.
Today, she and husband Ladd operate around 433,000 acres of property. Drummond Land & Cattle Co, a private family company created by Frederick Drummond when he arrived in Osage County, earns a hefty sum from the U.S. government. On New Year's Eve 2015, the Bureau of Land Management gave Drummond Land & Cattle Co just over $2 million.
As the Daily Mail states from U.S. public records, these contracts are "awarded to the family to keep wild horses and burros on their massive property, with government records stating that they need the land to support animal protection."
Ree's Influence on Ranch Life
Ree ended her speech at CattleCon with this quote, pulled by Ann Hess of AgDaily, "We love living on the ranch, we love being a ranching family raising cattle and it's something I consider a gift and a privilege." Focusing on her 2011 memoir, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels - A Love Story, in her speech, Drummond looked back at the circumstances that brought her to cattle ranching, namely her husband Ladd in those Wranglers.
Previously a student at the University of Southern California with dreams of Los Angeles or Chicago, one night in a bar near her home town of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, sealed her fate forever. As she told the room, "Before I knew it, we were getting married and I moved to his cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere, it felt to me, in north central Oklahoma."
In fact, her nickname The Pioneer Woman wasn't an expertly chosen website name, it was her real nickname. In her speech, she told the story of how it came to be. She "received her air quote nickname from some friends after moving to the ranch and officially earning the title after having no running water at the ranch for four months."
The 2018 Cattle Industry Convention
During the keynote speech, Ree Drummond received a distinguished service award, and presented her with a membership to the ANCW organization. Her and Ladd's hard work, which is often passed over in some articles stating that they're some of the largest landowners in the country, has remained true to the cattleman's way after all these years.
So the next time you whip up her famous Engagement Ribeye or precious cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning, remember that Ree is more than a home cook. She's part of the Drummond family, at the helm of the one of the larger cattle operations in America, and is dedicated to preserving this country way of life.