‘The Pioneer Woman’ Ree Drummond Never Actually Wanted to Live on a Ranch — Here’s Why

We all have our favorites on the Food Network, and there’s a reason the network has become so popular over the years. While we’re all familiar with the likes of Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, and Alton Brown, there’ve been a few newer cooks over the years that have captured our hearts — and Ree Drummond is one of them. From her delicious recipes to stories of her life married to a rancher, fans have connected with The Pioneer Woman on multiple levels.

Ree seems totally happy with her current life in the countryside, but it seems she didn’t always have an appreciation for the wide open space. Here’s why she never envisioned living where she resides today.

Ree Drummond grew up in a small town in Oklahoma

It’s typical to develop an aversion to living near your hometown, and that may be part of the reason Ree never wanted to spend the rest of her life in Oklahoma. She grew up in Bartlesville, a small town in Oklahoma not far from her current location near Pawhuska, The Daily Meal notes. The New Yorker also adds that she grew up in a wealthy household, as her father was an orthopedic surgeon and her mother stayed at home to care for the kids. “Her life revolved around ballet classes, her parents’ country club, and summer trips to Hilton Head, South Carolina,” the publication added.

While Ree may not have lived in her dream location growing up, her family’s affluence seemingly made it possible for her to do some traveling, and she headed out to California for college. She lived in Los Angeles and studied broadcast journalist at the University of Southern California at first, and she then moved into studying gerontology, which she called “a completely random major.” It seemed her main focus was less about her career and more about getting out of her small town, as Bartlesville only reportedly has a population of 35,000.

She had big dreams of moving to Chicago after her stint in Los Angeles

Ree loved big city life, and while she didn’t necessarily want to stay in Los Angeles forever, she did have a new destination in mind while visiting home during her college years. Country Living notes she developed big dreams of moving to Chicago. In the first issue of The Pioneer Woman Magazine, Ree wrote, “I was mired in a papery swamp of study guides, drafts of my résumé, listings of Chicago apartments and a J.Crew catalog from which I’d just ordered a $495 wool coat in olive, not chocolate, because I’m a redhead, and because Chicago winters are a tad more nippy than Los Angeles, which I’d left weeks earlier.”

Ree also noted in the same article that being back at her parent’s house in boring Bartlesville made her miss city life even more. “Based on my brief time at home, I knew that an urban environment was where I belonged. I missed the conveniences, the coffee shops, the take-out galore and the little nail salons …,” she wrote. “I missed the nightlife, the culture, the shopping. … I needed to get on the ball and move to Chicago.”

She stayed in Oklahoma to be with now-husband, Ladd

We know now that Ree never actually made it to her ideal destination — and she has her husband to blame. Country Living notes in the Pioneer Woman Magazine, she wrote about how she met Ladd Drummond in her hometown bar while she was briefly staying with her parents, and her life was forever changed. After their first date, Ree noted, “At the end of the evening, riding in a Ford F-250 diesel pickup with a cowboy, I knew there was nowhere else on earth I wanted to be.” And since Ladd was a cowboy deeply engrained in Oklahoma country culture, there was no way she was going to convince him to go to the city with her. Instead, she sacrificed her big city dreams to stay for true love.

The New Yorker notes her family was in shock when she announced she wasn’t moving to the city after all. As her father said, “I sure raised my eyebrows.” But Ree seems totally happy with her decision to marry Ladd, stay in Oklahoma, and raise her four kids there. And her fans love her status as an “accidental country girl,” too.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!