Meeting The Pioneer Woman

Meeting Ree Drummond at The Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK
Meeting Ree Drummond at The Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK

This Thanksgiving, while driving to the farm in Oklahoma for a weekend of work, we decided to take a little detour.  Upon reaching the junction for Highway 60 in Ponca City, I turned off our beaten path and headed east towards The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile.  It was supposed to be a three-day weekend of clearing unsightly trees covered with thorns.  But I decided we first needed a day of fun and a meal ordered straight from a menu prepared by Ree Drummond herself.  With our trailer in tow loaded with tools and equipment, we took the 45-minute drive out of our way to check out the history in a small town we had never before visited.  Pawhuska.

The drive to the Mercantile—namely, passing the Drummond Ranch—was stunning!  To think that such a wide-open expanse of land, similar to the Flint Hills in Kansas, belonged to one family alone was quite thought-provoking.  And suddenly I found myself comparing my land situation to that of the Pioneer Woman.  But really there was not much to compare and not much in common.  Here was a woman who came to live upon this land near Pawhuska by marrying into a family—landowners of four generations—wealthy by an abundance of land.  And here was I, on the third generation in my family to live upon a much smaller portion of land belonging to a struggling poor family.  But still a family which managed to hold onto the land.  The Pioneer Woman lives on a vast amount of acreage with tall prairie grass and scarcely a tree in sight (or so it seemed from my drive-by view on the highway).  While my land has a vast amount of trees with scarcely any acreage in sight (or so it would appear due to the abundance of trees).

We arrived at The Merc and were somewhat astonished to learn that there was nearly a two-hour wait for the restaurant.  Fortunately for us, however, we were able to get in after a short wait because we were the first “party of two” standing in line.  After a little shopping (um, I mean daydreaming of kitchenware to be placed in my new kitchen), I picked up Ree’s book, “The Pioneer Woman Black Heels to Tractor Wheels,” and then Steve and I made our way upstairs to the bakery.  It was there I spotted the beautiful Ree Drummond in the middle of an interview, after which she motioned to me and two other women that we were welcome to her table for an autograph.  Lucky me—I dodged a long line again!  And I had a good book in hand with which to finish the day.

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels
Autograph by Ree Drummond

Finally at the farm—helping Steve cut down trees and dig up truckloads of debris left behind by my ancestors—I not once had any doubt that this land is where we are meant to be.  This acreage of ours is beautiful, as small as it may be.  We are truly blessed, and there is nowhere else I would rather be.  Hmm, perhaps Ree and I do have something in common.

My father's favorite spot on the farm.
My father’s favorite spot on the farm.



Architectural Salvage Yard No. 1

Antique water pumpsAnd so the scavenger hunt begins!  Searching for hidden treasures—among thousands of items—suitable for reuse in and around our farmhouse that has yet to be built.

First stop, Bearly Makin’ It Antiques.  As my husband, Steve, and I began our search for the perfect antiques and scrap that provide just the right architectural touch, we found a 40-minute trip to Marion, Kansas, to be well worth the drive.  Located just outside of town at an old alfalfa mill—”The Mill”—and having previously been featured on American Pickers, we anticipated this stop to be a pleasant surprise.  And we weren’t disappointed.  We searched through doors, windows, furniture, hardware, scrap metal (which was rather quite organized for a salvagBearly Makin It Antiquese yard), vintage car parts, lawn decor, reclaimed wood, and numerous other items which are just too many to mention.  Secretly being wannabe pickers ourselves, we found this salvage yard to be quite fascinating and difficult to leave.  And its quaint little shop in town filled with vintage home items and decor—such as quilts, dishes, clocks, glass light fixtures, and more—was a sweet addition to the day.

After finding some doors which we felt were “doable” for the farmhouse look we are trying to achieve, we ended up leaving them behind as we still have more salvage yards to visit and we didn’t want to be too haste in buying.  I did, however, snatch this wire fencing with a nice scalloped edge and with a perfect vintage patina (below), which I think will make for a great flowerbed backdrop when attached to already existing vintage posts which are still nicely secured in the ground on our land.

As the pickers of this architectural salvage yard are continually on the hunt and adding items almost weekly—we will be back for more hunting, I am certain!

Antique wire fencing


The House On A Rocky Hill

standing on rocks“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them
into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Matthew 7:24

We spent the better part of last year clearing dead trees and poison ivy from the land.  Clearing a path to the house, I guess you could say.  And while we originally thought we would build on another location of the farm, once my cousin contacted me with an offer to purchase her portion of the family land, we couldn’t turn her down.  While debating back and forth on which location to build (a softer ground area or a rocky hill) our thoughts kept going to the above Bible verse.  Plus, my heart kept tugging at me while saying the homestead needed to remain in its original location.

House on a hill

History of the Land – Indian Territory, OK

Land Patent to Choctaw Indian“These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent,
within their nations.  From these the nations spread out over
the earth after the flood.”  Genesis 10:32.

According to a Homestead Patent and Dawes Rolls, land equaling 110 acres in Indian Territory, Oklahoma, was allotted to Edmund H. Johnston on January 7, 1904.  Johnston was a member of the Choctaw Nation by blood.  He was 1/4 Indian, 18-years old, and married to Mollie Johnston.  The land, or a portion of it, was sold to a freedman named Berryman J. Ellerd and his wife Jewel in 1916.  Freedmen were the former slaves of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole).

In 1943, seventy acres of this land was purchased by my grandparents and many years later passed down to their four children.  I am still trying to locate photos of the original house that stood on the hill where the current one stands.  But for now, the below photo is the best I can do.  It shows my aunt on a tractor downhill from the house.  When my husband and I rebuild the house, it will be the third house to sit in this location—as far as I am aware.

It is interesting to mention that while reading through well-kept genealogy notes by my ancestors over the last century (or more), I found that the Peavey (PV) family can be traced back to Noah’s son Shem.  And among these notes I find writings wherein Puritans (Separatists/Pilgrims) in my ancestry stated that Indians saved many of their lives, were friendly to them, and helped them survive.  Truly, we all are family.

Aunt Katie on tractor at farm


Thorns, Thistles, And Venomous Snakes

Copperheads “… for it is GOD who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”

Philippians 2:13.

How did I get here, I often wonder . . . to this abandoned farmland which consists of thorns, thistles, and venomous snakes.  Is it a blessing, or is it a curse?  Not too long ago, if we were to encounter a Copperhead I would say, “Head to the car, I am done here!”  But something has changed inside me.  Now, we deal with the situation and I say to myself, “Keep on moving.  There’s work to be done.”

It was my dad’s wish that this land remain in the family as his dad once told him, “Son, whatever you do, never let go of the land.”  He protected the land for his dad, and now I feel the need to do the same.  I do not feel this is truly my desire; I feel it is God’s will.  As a 78-year-old man, while dying due to congestive heart failure, my dad gifted this land to me not because he favored me in any way over my five siblings.  He simply gifted it to me because I was the only one to express a desire to keep it in the family.

It is only 20 acres (if you count my cousin’s, it is 40).  But my husband and I both feel it is our duty to clean up this land.  And in some weird way, perhaps only God will understand, we love doing it.

Oh, did I mention there are scorpions too!