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
generation ranchers, plus Ron has been (in his words):
A 4-H member, FFA officer, farm radio broadcaster,
Congressional staffer, association executive, rural
director, corporate vice-president, small business co-founder,
ticket-taker, Sunday School teacher, diaper changer, bottle
tractor driver, posthole digger, thistle chopper, haybale
fence fixer, calf holder, manure scooper, and tail
And Chris has served as the President of the American
Agri-Women and as Kansas
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture!
How and why did you two decide to host a Ranch Stay amidst all of
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
FSUS: What's the setting of your ranch like? What's the
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
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.
FSUS: 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
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
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
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
Ron & Chris: We offer lunch and supper but supper is our
most common offering: beef barbecue with all the trimmings.
FSUS: Anything else you'd like to highlight?
Ron & 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.
For more information on Lazy T Ranch, visit their Farm Stay U.S. listing or
their website: http://www.lazytranchadventures.com/