by Bryan Painter
Muskogee – A lot of people say they are thankful for what time has taught them. However, Kelly Wiedel, who ranches with husband Bart in eastern Oklahoma, has a lifetime of experiences to back that up.
There are simple things she has learned.
Take for instance haying.
“I’ll never forget the day when my father-in-law Jim Wiedel said I had tractor driving in my blood because I asked him if I could rake again,” Kelly Wiedel said.
She also won’t forget what she learned one day when she was out haying.
“When raking hay with a tractor without a cab, stay away from bumble bees,” she said.
Wiedel has painted countless feet of pipe fence and gateways.
“From that I have learned to always paint with the wind at my back,” she said.
There are also things she’s learned that weren’t so simple, such as the first time her husband was ever involved in a vehicle accident. She was a passenger.
“It caused me to get vertigo and after time with it not going away and many different tests and scans of my head,” she said, “we found out that I had a brain aneurism and had to have brain surgery. So the wreck was a blessing because it saved my life.”
Perhaps it was all those experiences and more that led her to place a sign in their dining room that reads, “It may not be the easy way, but it’s the Cowboy Way.”
On a Sunday morning
Kelly was only 6 years old when she met this lanky boy named Bart at church on a Sunday in the early 1970s. Her family had just moved to the area and as it turned out, she grew up living roughly 10 miles from his family’s cow/calf and haying operation.
Kelly and Bart married in 1984 and started out with a small cow/calf operation near Muskogee. Three years later they became partners with his parents and together the families had 400 momma cows.
In between then and now, they have purchased more land and cattle. They have taken on the management of another 1,000-acre ranch.
Beverly Delmedico has known Kelly and Bart for several years.
“I don’t know of a couple that is closer together than Bart and Kelly,” she said. “They do absolutely everything together. They are just something else. I love Bart and Kelly both.”
Very proud of their family
Wiedel has another sign hanging on the wall, “Home is where the herd is.”
While they are proud of their ranch, they are extremely proud of their family. Others have recognized the Wiedels as well.
Kelly and Bart’s family received the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee’s District Six Farm and Ranch Family Recognition during the organization’s 77th annual meeting on Nov. 17.
They have three children, James Robert Wiedel, Jared Jay Wiedel and Lacy Miller, along with six grandchildren.
So, Kelly Wiedel says this about agriculture.
“It has given me a life to work beside my husband and raise our children in a way of life that has made them want to continue to live their lives in agriculture,” she said. “Our two sons have cattle of their own and work with us in the hay field. Our daughter and her husband have their own cattle operation about 45 miles away. We hope that our children and grandchildren have learned that hard work will make them better people.”
There is that word again, “learned.”
Life on an agricultural operation provides its own forms of continuing education.
There are the enjoyable lessons.
“I am most happy on the ranch when it is spring time and all the baby calves are running around,” she said.
Then, there are the challenging lessons.
“We went through a bad drought and had to bale cornstalks to provide hay for our cattle, because we sold more hay than our fields made because of the drought,” she said.
A key part of that comment is, “We went through…” They didn’t stop, they didn’t turn back. They put on their work gloves and they “went through.”
So how does Wiedel summarize the lessons learned so far in life?
Kelly Wiedel said, “It takes a person who is willing to put in a lot of time and hard work to make a ranch successful.”