Story by Debbie Coffey as it appears in the PPJ Gazette
Once Proud and Free……
Former Wild Horse feeding time at the Drummond Ranch ~ photo by Terry Fitch
Ree Drummond, who writes the popular “The Pioneer Woman” blog, is married to Ladd Drummond (whom she calls “Marlboro Man”), one of the partners of Drummond Land and Cattle, which has a BLM contract for Long Term Holding pastures for our wild horses.
While watching the Food Network the other night, I saw an ad for a new show called “The Pioneer Woman,” starring Ree Drummond (premiering Aug. 27th). Ree is a blogger/photographer/cookbook author who blogs about her life on the ranch in Oklahoma.
Last year (Nov. 9, 2010) the BLM had a tour of the Drummond long term holding pasture, but only allowed credentialed media.
About those roundups
Terry Fitch, chief photographer for Horseback Magazine who has been to the BLM roundups of our wild horses, went on this BLM tour and wrote:
“The Drummond family (according to The Land Report) owns approximately 120,000 acres which, according to Debbie Collins of the BLM, 24,292 of those acres are dedicated to the approximately 3400 wild horses living out their lives on this land.
If I didn’t know the first thing about wild horses, I would say that this is a paradise for the horses; however, I do know a little something about wild horses.
All in all, it’s the perfect place for domestic horses, not wild horses that are ripped from their family bands, separated by gender, and living their days out.”
Using Debbie Collins’ figures, that 3,400 wild horses are on 24,292 acres, this seems to be an area of about 6 miles x 6 miles (the shape of the pasture isn’t an exact square – the boundary is jagged).
Anyhow, I looked at The Pioneer Woman’s Food Network page, and then went to her blog. And I got to see our wild horses! And now you can, too. Even if you aren’t credentialed media!
Ree says she can see the wild horses right out of the windows of her house.
Why can’t we see them?
I remember seeing the wild horses closely at the Indian Lakes Road short term holding facility in Fallon, NV, until the BLM, who put the horses on private property, ended the tours and access to the public. (The BLM had a couple of token tours after they closed the facility to the public, after it was revealed that public tours were actually part of the Indian Lakes Road contract with the BLM., and after the public realized that the BLM had deceived them by claiming this facility was never meant to be open to the public.)
Before last Thanksgiving at the Drummond Ranch, Ree had a big Throwdown with Bobby Flay, a film crew and a bunch of other people at the “Lodge” (which seems to be a big guest house with a big, professional kitchen). Apparently, the Drummonds also throw big 4th of July parties every year.
Look at the photos of the fireworks at their 4th of July party this year, would you? Here’s what Ree said about it: “as I point out every year, part of what’s fun about the Fourth is that we never know who’s going to show up. We invite our church, we invite our good friends, we invite cowboys, Romans, and countrymen. But we never require RSVP’s, and we never know how many people are coming.
… Pastor Ken texts me and says, “Ree, we were wondering about the possibility of bringing eighty (visiting youth ministry) kids out to watch the fireworks…”
Under a photo of fireworks on her blog, Ree wrote “Basically, we frightened each and every one of our guests.”
Didn’t Ladd Drummond worry that the fireworks bursting in the skies or the noise from the fireworks might scare the wild horses? The fireworks could’ve even scared the wild horses at nearby long term holding pastures, which seem to be only about 1½ miles away at one point, and only about 15 miles away at the farthest point. This is a relatively flat area with few trees. And horses have good hearing.
And not to be a party pooper, but I wonder how close all of those people were to our wild horses. The contract says “The site is not intended to be a public viewing area. Therefore, the Contractor will restrict or prohibit access onto the site by the general public.”
Oh! Those funny guys from the BLM!
At roundups, the BLM keeps us, the public, far, far away because they worry that a little glint of sunlight off of our eyeglasses might frighten the horses as the helicopter chases the horses into a trap. The BLM asks the public not to wear bright clothing and to sit on the ground so our silhouette doesn’t frighten the horses. At roundups, the BLM has armed guards watching our every move. It doesn’t seem like the BLM worries much about the wild horses once they’re removed from our public lands.
Besides fireworks on the 4th, Ree says “Shooting is slowly becoming a tradition when friends visit. I don’t know what makes it such a natural recreational activity for guests, but it always winds up really hitting the spot. It could be that there’s always someone there who’s never held a 12-gauge shotgun to her shoulder before…”
You can find out a lot of stuff about our wild horses on The Pioneer Woman blog.
On Dec. 7, 2009, Ree wrote “Early last week, when my daughters and I were traveling to Dallas, Marlboro Man, my seven-year-old son, and Cowboy Josh had to gather 300 wild horses for the purposes of weaning off 22 colts that had “magically” appeared in the past several months. (Some of the mares were already bred when they came to the ranch last year.)”
Here’s a photo of the little cowboy in the saddle. (He’s the short one in the brown jacket.) The BLM contract requires that the horses have “management by individuals who are knowledgeable and experienced about the behavior and nutritional requirements of equines…” (I assumed this meant adults, not 7 year olds. Or adolescents, who aren’t listed on the contract as key personnel.)
The contract also requires that “Horses in corrals and chutes shall be worked in a manner that minimizes excitement of the horses to prevent injuries from crowding or trampling.” So I was surprised to see photos that seem to show horses that look crowded and in danger of getting injured. (Ree seemed to be worried that the Marlboro Man’s “family jewels” might get injured by politely stating: “I might want to have another baby.”)
On May 25, 2011, Ree said a tornado touched down a few miles from their house. R.T. Fitch (Wild Horse Freedom Federation) posted an article about tornadoes in areas near wild horse long term holding pastures. That same night, I had seen national weather reports and sent an e-mail to Dean Bolstad, Deputy Division Chief of BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Program, asking about the safety status of our wild horses.
Ree not only has a new cooking show on tv, but a book she wrote (“Black Heels to Tractor Wheels”) was optioned by Columbia Pictures for a film. (I wonder if any part of this movie will be filmed on the ranch.)
- In an interview that appeared in The New Yorker Magazine (May 2011) Ree was asked about her ad revenue, and was quoted as saying “that her revenue for 2010 was ‘solidly one million’ dollars, a portion of which goes to overhead and expenses. (This sum doesn’t include her book advances, royalties from her best-sellers, and revenue from Hollywood for the movie option.)”
- Ree has written stories about and posted photos of our wild horses on their property on “The Pioneer Woman” internet website. Could her use of these photos of our wild horses have made her image seem a little bit more “pioneer-like,” and, in part, contributed to her personal financial gain?
The Food Network page for “The Pioneer Woman” show states:
“Take one sassy former city girl, her hunky rancher husband and a band of adorable kids, an extended family, cowboys, 3000 wild mustangs, a herd of cattle and one placid basset hound and you have The Pioneer Woman. The Pioneer Woman is an open invitation into Ree Drummond’s life…”
- Drummond Land and Cattle’s BLM contract is for about $1.30 per head per day, so using Debbie Collins number of 3,400 horses, that adds up to about $1,613,300 a year. And that’s for just one year.
- It seems that Drummond Land and Cattle may have had BLM long term holding contracts since 2003 or 2004.
- Ladd, Tim and Charles Drummond, partners in Drummond Land and Cattle, are listed as key personnel on the BLM contract.
- It appears that from 1995-2010, Ladd Drummond received $106,707 in USDA farm subsidies ($66,707 since 2005).
- It appears that his brother, Tim, received about $75,644 in USDA farm subsidies.
There have been miscellaneous items in the news and on the internet about the Drummonds.
A 2007 story in Tulsa World revealed that Charles R. Drummond, his sons Ladd Drummond and Tim Drummond, and nephew Thatcher Drummond, received more than 40 speeding tickets in the state in the last decade. At least 18 of those were dismissed in their home county.
The article states: “The four members of the Drummond family have been clocked by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol driving 95, 97 and 112 mph, all speeds listed on tickets that have been dismissed by judges in the county. Although the Drummonds paid a fine and court costs on all dismissed tickets, the tickets do not go against their driving records.
The family sold a parcel of its Osage County land in 2001 for nearly $20 million, court records state. Tim and Ladd Drummond also own a 20,000-acre cattle and horse ranch in Jefferson County, according to the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association’s Web site.”
And here’s my favorite part of this story: “Osage County Special Judge John Boggs, who approved many of the dismissals as an assistant prosecutor and later as a judge, said he had no idea how fast the cited speeds were…Boggs said he had been to several bar association parties at the Drummond ranch but does not believe that he gives the family special treatment.”
The Pioneer Woman has written about Ladd’s cousin, Thatcher Drummond. Thatcher, who seems to have been arrested for speeding and driving under the influence in 2008, is the son of Tom Drummond, who was a president of the Osage County Cattlemen’s Association, on the tax committee for the National Cattlemen’s Association, and chairman of the tax committee for the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association.
The Drummonds are active in the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, which was listed on Sue Wallis’ United Organizations of the Horse original website as “opposing” the “prevention of cruelty to equines bills that make it a felony to market, transport, consume or use of horses for human food.”
- Charles R. Drummond seems to be listed as a partner of Drummond & Hull Oil Company.
- Charles and Ladd Drummond have been listed as shareholders and on the Board of Directors of a company called docplanet.com, described as a business-to-business e-commerce company that provides pharmaceuticals to office-based physicians.
- Docplanet.com, was previously called docsales.com, which was previously called Golden Pharmaceuticals.
According to a 1999 Los Angeles Times article:
“The Internet is a financial miracle. Just ask Santa Ana-based Docsales.com Inc. Three months ago, it was a dog of a company called Golden Pharmaceuticals Inc. that lost money in 13 of its previous 14 quarters and had been virtually ignored by investors. It also is a defendant in 47 lawsuits in three states related to personal injury claims by consumers who used the Phen-Fen diet drug combination it sold.
… the company said it will expand to ‘support a sales level of $25 [million] to $50 million over the next 12 to 24 months” because of its proposed online store’.”
Since the BLM places our wild horses on private property, this invites questions about the people who oversee the horses and about the proximity of the horses to homes and to activities in the area.
While the Pioneer Woman seems nice and I’m sure we’d all like to race through town (don’t worry about any speeding tickets) to go visit and have some blackberry cobbler, there’s a nagging feeling about the unfairness in seeing a select few people have the privilege of unfettered access to something we, The American People, don’t have access to any more. Even while our tax dollars pay for this.
Since the BLM manages over 245 million acres of public lands, why do our publicly owned wild horses and burros have to be “held” in long term pastures and short term holding facilities? What is the BLM doing with those 245 million acres?
The BLM has put 3,400 wild horses on about 6 square miles at the Drummond Ranch. Are the BLM’s pending plans for eco-sanctuaries just a “bigger version” of the long term holding pastures, and a cover-up of what they’re doing with our 245 million acres of public lands?
The BLM is rounding up our remaining wild horses to the point of extinction and leaving mostly non-reproducing herds on the range, in what seems to be an effort to quell public awareness of this pending extinction.
The Bureau of Land Management, which has too many other mandates, should NOT be managing our wild horses.
The BLM now allows only an exclusive, select few people to have access to our wild horses, but below are some links to The Pioneer Woman blog, so that you can see our wild horses in Long Term Holding:
Our wild horses in winter (Jan. 9, 2009) – Ladd chops ice so horses can get water.
“The BLM’s Multiple (R)use Mandate: http://ppjg.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/the-blm%E2%80%99s-multiple-ruse-mandate/
“BLM “News Release” Fraud? http://ppjg.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/my-little-pony/