Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Lazy T Ranch: Authentic Ranch Life and Cowboy Poetry in Kansas' Flint Hills

This month we feature an interview with a very dynamic duo, ranch stay members Ron and Chris Wilson of Lazy T Ranch in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

FSUS: Ron and Chris, you both have quite the bios! You are both 5th
generation ranchers, plus Ron has been (in his words):

A 4-H member, FFA officer, farm radio broadcaster, college lecturer,
Congressional staffer, association executive, rural development
director, corporate vice-president, small business co-founder, rodeo
ticket-taker, Sunday School teacher, diaper changer, bottle washer,
tractor driver, posthole digger, thistle chopper, haybale stacker,
fence fixer, calf holder, manure scooper, and tail twister.

And Chris has served as the President of the American Agri-Women and as Kansas
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture! family


How and why did you two decide to host a Ranch Stay amidst all of this?

Ron & Chris: Five years ago we moved back to the ranch and built a new home.  Mom moved up with us two years ago, leaving her house empty so it was available to remodel and serve as a guest house.

FSUS: What's the setting of your ranch like? What's the landscape like,
and the climate?

Ron & Chris: You've heard of flat, treeless Kansas?  This is the exact opposite.  We are nestled in a region called the Flint Hills, with tall hills, deep draws, plenty of native stone, and lots of trees and brush.  We have four distinct seasons, each of which has its appeal.

FSUS: What do guests typically do during their stay at your ranch?

Ron & Chris: Guests can enjoy their privacy if they like, because we are in a secluded spot although close to Manhattan, but usually our guests choose to visit our historic stone barn, feed horses and goats, and enjoy the landscape.  Sometimes a family will gather eggs from our chickens and have them for breakfast.

ranch-houseFSUS: Since both of your families' roots in ranching go way back, and you are involved with many facets of ranching and ag policy, I expect you have some insight into ranching history and trends. How has ranching changed or stayed the same in this country over time?

Ron & Chris: This is generally cow-calf country, with herds of brood cows populating the rangeland.  Cattle feeding is not predominant here, although there are some feedyards.  Cattle feeding has become concentrated, particularly in western Kansas where several large packers have located.  Beef is our state's largest single ag industry, still dominated by decentralized groups of producers (as opposed to pork and poultry, which have become more unified or vertically integrated).  In addition to ranchers, there are lots of farmer-stockmen raising grain and cattle.

FSUS: Ron was dubbed the "Poet Lariat" of Kansas in 2003 by then-governor Bill Graves. Ron, why did you start writing Cowboy Poetry? Do your ranch stay guests get to see you perform? ridinginparadecloseup

Ron: I grew up here on the ranch and have always been a cowboy at heart.  Years ago I was at a conference in Colorado where they had a cowboy poet as entertainment.  I had never heard or seen such a goofy thing, but it was definitely entertaining.  Years later I tried my hand at writing and performing it myself, and have had a great time since.  Overnight guests don't get cowboy poetry as such, but they do if they schedule one of our beef barbecue suppers.

FSUS: Could you tell us about the special events you have at your ranch throughout the year? Like the fall festival and National Day of the Cowboy?

Ron & Chris: Most of our activities are done by appointment, such as when tour groups or organizations book an evening for supper and entertainment.  However, during weekends in October, we hold our Fall Festival which is open admission for pony rides, pumpkin patch, hayrack ride, kid activities, etc.  In 2012, for the first time, we hosted a National Day of the Cowboy celebration and had about 50 people come out for speakers, picnic supper, and western entertainment.  It was a lot of fun and would hope to do it again.

FSUS: What are the accommodations like at your ranch?

Ron & Chris: The guest house is a remodeled and expanded family farm home, with three bedrooms and a large common living room.  It has satellite television, but it also has card games and marks on the wall to mark the kids height on their birthdays through the years.  The front porch is native stone and the house is nestled into our corner of the river valley, surrounded by the Flint Hills.

FSUS: What meals do you offer, and what's on the menu?

Ron & Chris: We offer lunch and supper but supper is our most common offering: beef barbecue with all the trimmings.  See http://lazytranchadventures.com/lazy-t-ranch-beef-bbq.htm

FSUS: Anything else you'd like to highlight?

barn-w-horsesRon & Chris: A friend of ours has a saying:  Horses are magic.  We have had visitors who apparently have never seen a horse up close and personal, and they seem to find them fascinating.  People love to pet and feed them.  The goats will eat feed right out of kids' hands, which tickles their palms and causes them to have a blast.  Kids have described their birthday parties here as their best ever.

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For more information on Lazy T Ranch, visit their Farm Stay U.S. listing or their website: http://www.lazytranchadventures.com/

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