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Ree Drummond

Fiery Ag Advocate

Pioneer Woman shares how ranch life inspired her blog and led to fame.

“I never set out to be a beef advocate, but I started feeling gratitude to show people where beef begins. … I felt a privilege to show a beef operation from cows to calves to yearlings,” Ree Drummond shared with cattlemen and women in Phoenix, Ariz.

Drummond, who lives on an Oklahoma ranch with her family, is more famously known as The Pioneer Woman for her food blog, cookbooks and Food Network TV show. She delivered the keynote address at the opening general session of the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show.

The 49-year-old redhead shared a pictorial history of her upbringing and experiences that ultimately led her to start a blog. She explained that she grew up in Bartlesville, Okla. — on a golf course. After high school she couldn’t wait to leave the town of 35,000 to attend college in Los Angeles, Calif. She then settled in Chicago, but on a return visit to her hometown met Ladd Drummond. By 1996 she was a rancher’s wife living near Pawhuska, Okla.

Pioneering spirit
Drummond told the audience that during her first year of marriage and ranch life she lived in a little house with mice in the walls, skunks under the porch, and “a lot of manure in the yard.” Pregnant with the couple’s first child, she shared, she felt “nauseated, isolated and cried a lot.” Over the next decade, three additional children followed, and Drummond adjusted to ranch life.

“I loved life in the country,” she said.

Thus, one day in 2006, while the kids were out working on the ranch with Ladd, she decided to start a blog using free software. Drummond shared that she called it “Confessions of a Pioneer Woman” because several friends had taken to using this moniker to describe the former city girl. She added that having lived without running water on the ranch for four months at one point earned her that nickname.

Drummond said her early blog posts were funny and weird stories from her past peppered with observations about kids, country life and cowboy colloquialisms. She included photos and came to love photography as she tried to improve her skills. She noted that through photography, she began to see things about the ranch that she hadn’t noticed before. Eventually, she began to share more and more about ranch life — from working the cattle to why they burn the prairie in the spring for grass management, a post to which her husband contributed.

In return, she reports, she got two kinds of feedback.

“People would reply and say they grew up on a ranch and missed it so much,” she shared. “More commonly, people would respond that they had never seen this side of ranch life before.” Having been a city girl herself provided an obvious connection.

“From the time I married Ladd, the one thing I learned right away is how much cattlemen care deeply about the animals they raise,” she said. It’s a message she continues to share with those not fortunate enough to have that firsthand experience.

Advice for the kitchen
A year after starting her blog, Drummond eventually shared recipes with step-by-step photos. Her first food post detailed grilling a steak for her husband. That eventually propelled her to publish several cookbooks, earn a program on the Food Network, develop a housewares line for Walmart, publish several children’s books, and launch her own magazine. She and her family have also opened a restaurant and mercantile-style store in Pawhuska, and they are in the process of renovating a historic building across the street to become a hotel.

Whatever lies ahead, Drummond expressed, “I want to be in Pawhuska the rest of my life. We love being a ranching family and raising cattle.”

Of her journey, Drummond noted that she’s been honored to have a role in educating consumers about ranch life and the Oklahoma prairie.

“It’s been fun to show how much our family — and so many agricultural families — feels for their animals,” she added.

Drummond’s appearance at the Cattle Industry Convention was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc.

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Editor’s Note: Kindra Gordon is a cattlewoman and freelance writer from Whitewood, S.D. This article was written as part of Angus Media’s coverage of the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show.







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