At The Pioneer Woman’s Ranch

It’s been over a year since the we three piggyparty-throwin’, spooning, street gals have been together in the same city. So finally, after months and months of coordinating, we bought our tickets, corralled the family and headed to Oklahoma.

When Ree sent over driving directions to the ranch, it was like 2 pages long. She’s written about her house being in the middle of nowhere, but I guess I’ve been living city life a leeeetle too long, I was all prepared to punch in her address in our GPS. But there’s no address to the Lodge and even if there was an address, the GPS wouldn’t know where it was!

Ree explained that the cows knocked down the street signs, so we were given landmarks to look out for as directions.

Scott drove and I instructed the boys to look out for the landmarks with me. I think this was one of them:

And another:

We’re getting closer…..

Gotta check in the rearview mirror that Elise and her boyfriend Guy is still behind us!

We’re almost there!

It’s starting to look like a PW’s site… close!

Look! A cowboy grill! We’re here!

The Lodge view is absolutely breathtaking.


Our welcome committee was Yo Yo the dog and the gray and white cat who kept trying to get into the house. Both Scott and Elise are crazy allergic to cats, so she was off limits.

Ree was finishing up cooking and her text to me said, “Make yourself and home and go jump on the beds!”

So we did.

I realized that I look a little nutty when I jump like a monkey on a bed. Thank goodness that photo is blurry and you can’t see the loony expression on my face.

I hope she wasn’t joking about wanting us to jump on her beds. We jumped on all of ’em!

Ree and the family came with dinner! Oh those boys are so precious – Todd and Bryce hit it off immediately with my boys – all it took was a flurry of exchange of electronics and flying helicopters that battle each other. The girls, Page and Alex are so tall and beautiful!

This was after a couple glasses of wine. We’re still standing.

“Just a little butter on the bread!” Well, “little” by PW standards, at least. She called this “Butter Bread”…..with the word butter in 8 foot tall letters. The butter bread goes in the oven for 30 minutes – so that the butter slowly melts and settles into every available space inside the bread and not just on the top layer.

My favorite part of regular garlic bread is the top buttery layer of crunch….can you imagine and entire inch of bread – top/middle/bottom made of that?!

When we booked our travel, I had totally forgotten it was Nathan’s birthday, so literally 2 days before we arrived, I emailed Ree to rescue me. Help?!

Bad mom…..bad mom!

Of course she came to the rescue….Nathan got caught sampling the cake.

So did Todd….busted!!!

The boys got to decorate the birthday cake with M&M’s and candles.

Happy 7th Birthday!

So who wants to wake up at 6am to feed horses with Ladd?

Scott, Elise and I slinked down in our seats a little. 6am?!

It was all up to Elise’s boyfriend, Guy, to raise his hand and sacrifice himself else our hosts would think they had a Lodge-ful of wussies. Fortunately, it was Guy’s sort of thing and he happily woke early in the morning to feed thousands of wild horse. Oh the photos he took!! Guy said it was exhilerating to be so close to these beautiful, wild mustangs.


After the feeding, Ladd came by with a laptop and announced, “Let’s buy cattle.”

It’s a live auction streaming online….I think he was trying to convince my husband to buy some too. Let’s all be cattle ranchers!

We looked a little hodge-podge in our cobbled-together cold-weather outfits – Andrew brought his rubber rainboots. I’m wearing one of the kids’ hats that is too small and squeezing my forehead together.

That’s Charlie and Walter!!! Cutie-patooties! Charlie likes his belly rubbed.

In the afternoon, Ladd asked us if we wanted to go “work the cattle” – and this time we all raised our hands. And then I realized that working cattle meant getting on a horse, which I had only done once before when I was young, flexible and even then I was terrified! Horse are big, powerful and there’s no seatbelt! They have built-in eject mechanisms!

Cowboy Josh gives Scott a 15 second horse riding lesson, “Hold tight and don’t fall off.”

But these little ones are pros….

Elise, Ree and I stayed behind with my boys and waited until they all came back with a couple hundred cattle. Look how obedient these cows are!

I said to Ree, “Look! They are playing follow the leader!”

She said, “No, they’re playing avoid the horse.”

One of the cousins showed Nathan how to ride a horse for the very first time. My baby! Riding a horse!

Hold on tight…..oooooh worried mother…..

Uh, come back! Where y’all going!? Don’t go too far!

(paranoid much?)

Elise had no problem riding – she looks like a natural on that horse.

The calves were separated in a different pen. And it was only THEN that I realized “working cattle” meant much more than hearding them from one pasture to another. Working cattle also meant branding, inoculation and fixin’ the boys.

That’s Ladd and his brother Tim with 2 cowboys — and there on the ground, that brave, brave girl in the hoodie is 12 year old Page. She can wrestle calves! (Boys you better watch out!). Page is my hero.

Oh, let’s see this photo with some iPhone editing magic….

Isn’t that just too cool!? I’m using Snapseed app (hat tip to Cool Mom Tech) with the Tilt Shift filter (don’t know what tilt-shift is? it’s normally a very expensive and special lens that makes things look like a minature scene — check this out!)

Another photo with Instagram filters….

Guess who’s no longer a cattle wrestlin’ virgin?

Yup, that’s Guy right smack in the middle of things. 

As the day progressed, I finally got the courage to get on the big, scary horse. Because of my recent knee surgery, I had to have 3 people help me up and push up my butt. I had to make sure everyone put away their cameras when this was occurring.

I let the horse walk me around – I got the same 15 second cowboy horse lesson and I was so focused on balancing and not falling that I didn’t hear a word of instruction. So the horse just did her thing and I held on.

Time got away from me, my phone beeped and warned me I had a conference call with Diane, Julie and Dawn in 2 minutes!

Scott was busy rounding up a stray calf that escaped from the pen, the cowboys were still wrestling calves and there was no one around.

Uh, hello!? Can someone help me get off this horse!?

So I had to take the conference call on the horse.


Holding the phone in one hand, grasping the reins with the other while leaning forward and squeezing my thighs tight against the horse (Kegel FTW!) so I woudn’t fall off while the horse was trotting around.

That night we all slept well….Charlie and Walter came by and spent the night too. They snore loud!

The next morning was totally surreal – Elise and I sitting on the couch at the Lodge watching Ree’s Christmas Special on Food Network. Hey! That kitchen is right there! We’re sitting on that couch right now!

Ree pampered us with massages and manicures with Kay and Lana at the Lodge.

Guy snapped this photo of Scott in his robe after his massage. So very Town and Country!

Our last morning was rewarded with one of the most spectacular sunrises I’ve ever experienced.

Elise sat on the couch with Andrew to watch the show.

It was a wonderful, magical vacation for all of us. What a blessing to have such beautiful friends. Next year, it’s my turn to host, perhaps a beach house and we’ll surf instead of work cattle!

I couldn’t leave this post about Pioneer Woman without cowboy booty photos……

You’re welcome.



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Comments 48

  1. Adela

    Great photos … love the sunset ones!! What a memorable vacation you and your family had 🙂

  2. Deanna

    I’m so jealous. I keep hoping Ree will decide to do the Ranchelor, but so far no luck. Aside from my preference for coastal cities, I would be perfect.

  3. Mom101

    Trip of a lifetime! And so beautifully told. I just love those photos of you on the bed and Nathan on the horse. And what a gracious, wonderful hostess Ree is (as if I’m surprised.)

    Now excuse me while I go eat a stick of butter on some bread and tell everyone I got the idea from 2 huge food bloggers.

  4. JulieD

    Love ALL of the pictures! It’s so beautiful out there and feels like we got to experience it with you. I love that you were on the horse while we were talking to you. LOL

    PS Happy late birthday, Nathan!!

  5. Mona (Kentucky Lady).

    Loved these pictures….saw Ree on the FOOD NETWORK show the other day and loved it, she had some great recipes on there…she looks like a wonderful cook, definitely want to check out her recipes on the Food Channel……and their ranch is beautiful ….really enjoyed all the pictures…..please do more of these on Ree and her family and this beautiful farm… looks so peaceful……..

  6. joey

    What a fantastic experience! The Pioneer Woman’s ranch…wow!!! It looks amazing!

    Thank you for cowboy booty shot 🙂

  7. Tammy

    Great pictures ~ AND, you win. Chaps/booty pictures of Cowboy Josh for the ladies! Winning!!! =)

    Looks like a dream vacation to me ~ you’re a very lucky lady!!

  8. Mellissa

    You are living the dream! How nice for your family–thanks for sharing so many of the pictures with us, it was almost like being there! Fun!

  9. Ronnie Maiden

    LOL, tightening your thighs makes the horse GO FASTER, Jaden! Beautiful pics. Happy holidays to you and yours.

  10. Tammy

    Thanks again for sharing your experience with us so we could feel like we were right there with you. Excellent photography! You two are my favorite food bloggers! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I look forward to more of your inspirations in 2012.

  11. Kim Bee

    Jaden this is fantastic. What an adventure. So glad you got on the horse for a ride. Thanks for bringing us along on your adventure. Really enjoyed seeing all the pictures.

  12. June

    How very kind and generous of you to share your beautiful photos. I can understand how wonderful your time must have been. The sunsets were magnificant!

  13. Ellen

    Wow! How lucky to get to visit the ranch, I would have been pinching myself the whole time. Surreal moment watching the Xmas show while in The Lodge!

  14. Chris

    OMG OMG OMG Scott’s leg is on fire in the robe picture.

    STOP! DROP! and ROLL!
    STOP! DROP! and ROLL!

    Great pictorial and a fantastic looking trip.

    Merry Christmas to you, Scott, and the boys. (and chickens)

  15. heather c

    Great writing! I’m used to ranch life, so lots of what you wrote made me giggle from knowing exactly what you were talking about.

  16. Caroline

    Am I dreaming or sitting at my computer… those sunset shots, the ranch, the animals, the bed jumping… looks like heaven on earth! Thanks for sharing.

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