Fields Ranch was started in 1952 when Ed and Viola Fields moved from West Texas to the land of the Osage and the Tallgrass Prairie, and settled between Wynona and Hominy, Oklahoma.
Over the last 61 years, the ranch has diversified into all aspects of the cattle industry, primarily as a cow/calf and stocker operation. The ranch has also been involved in the retail meat business, owning and operating the Hominy Meat Market for several years, as well as the Hominy Sale Barn for 3 years.
In 1988, Eddie Fields started a registered Angus operation by buying some selected females from Galen and Lori Fink of Manhattan, Kansas to produce seedstock for the commercial cow/calf unit and selling performance tested bulls, with sales ranging from Texas to Nebraska. Today the cowherd consists of 100 registered females and 200 commercial females.
In 1990, a commercial backgrounding and preconditioning yard of 1200 head capacity was built, along with a custom grazing program on improved pastures, as well as native pasture. The backgrounding and custom grazing program does 5,000 head annually.
Currently, the ranch consists of 2,500 acres of owned and leased land of native tallgrass prairie and improved pastures of bermuda, clovers, fescues and rye grass.
Fields Ranch is owned by the Fields family, which consists of Viola Fields, Dennis and Jan Fields and Eddie, Chris, Tailor, Jacie and Tristan Fields, with Eddie managing the ranching operations.
Original bunk house, built in 1952
True Cowboy Spirit Spurs the Ed Fields’ Ranch Life
Published February, 1964 in The Lamp; written by Barbara Herd
Love at first sight is a well worn and trite way to describe the feeling of Ed Fields the first time he saw Viola in a café in Texas some years ago.
The cowboy, tired and disheveled after three days of riding the range to deliver a herd of cattle he had sold, stopped in the café for a meal. Within a half hour he leaned over and said, “When I get time, I’m going to marry you.”
This was the first time Vi had seen a cowboy, and the dusty traveler with his black hat, black neckerchief, and unshaven face were not the glamorous, exciting picture she had of western cattlemen.
Fate has a way of stepping in, and about a year later she became Mrs. Ed Fields.
Life was good, and in time two little boys arrived, Eddie B. and Dennis. Soon they moved to a farm in Yoakum County near the New Mexico border. They lived there seven years.
Then came the drought.
It was time to look for greener pastures if they were to stay in the cattle business. Fields searched far and wide in southwestern Missouri, southeastern Kansas, and northeastern Oklahoma before settling on the 560 acres in Osage County near Wynona. This was in the summer of 1951.
When Vi came to the Osage with Ed to complete the purchase, she gazed over the spread of land covered with cocklebur and persimmon sprouts which had been allowed to take place. There was an old rotting farmstead right in the middle of the land.
Although it was raining so hard that they had to ford the creek to get to the house, it was quite plain that the land was eroded. She was sick. To think that Ed had called these “greener pastures” nearly broke her heart.
But Ed saw possibilities. With proper conservation practices he could envisage pastures that would feed 100 cattle and produce enough hay to see them through the winter.
Vi returned to Texas to keep the boys in school until the end of the school term, while Ed pitched a tent next to the old farmstead and started to work. It was the only tent in Osage County with electric lights and running water.
It was a real greenhorn that started out to develop a producing land from this dry eroded land. Because he knew so little about the country, Ed approached the Osage County Soil Conservation District for advice and practical means of overcoming the erosion. He entered into an agreement with the Conservation District February 27, 1952. With their help, Ed planned to establish all of the old cultivated land in Bermuda base, pasture mixtures, spray the brush on the rough timbered rangeland, develop livestock water, construct diversions and install a fencing system which would be necessary to manage livestock.
Gradually, with proper application of fertilizer and planting, Fields improved his soil and supplemental pasture and launched out on his objective of establishing tame pasture on the cultivated land. He was awarded a plaque for outstanding accomplishments in Soil Conservation in 1961 for this project.
The first major break in the drought came in the spring of 1957 and by that time Ed had established 83 acres of Bermuda grass, constructed 2200 feet of diversion terraces, built one good livestock pond, and had been growing vetch and rye on all old fields to improve their condition. Ed also hired a bulldozer to push in the eroded gullies to allow the grasses to grow and cover the ditches.
Killing the brush on the hillside by spraying with 2-4-5-T provided additional pasture for grazing 50 cows and calves. Fields built two more water ponds in 1952 and 1960 and another in 1961.
While the boys were finishing the semester in school and Ed was working on the soil and living in a tent, he began the construction of the two-room rock bunkhouse. This was to be their home for the next five years. Now they live in a comfortable ranch house which they built according to their own design. Vi has a roomy kitchen with a lot of space for the long ranch table which will seat ten at one time.
As Vi pointed out, “I never knew when I went to bed at night how many there would be for breakfast the next morning. The boys would bring their friends in and leave a note in the kitchen telling me how many were in the bunkhouse and who would be at the breakfast table in the morning. Ed and I would eat first so I could keep the food cooking while he served the table.” There was always a good supply of home-baked bread, pies, cakes, all prepared in her electric oven.
Tragedy marred their happiness in September, 1062. Eddie B. had finished his college work at Oklahoma State University and had secured a nice job. He had gone to Stillwater one night to check on an apartment for Dennis, then a student at OSU, but on his return trip he had an accident and was killed.
Showing what stalwart persons they are, Ed and Vi continue in their usual activities. He is a member of the Osage County Cattlemen’s Association, the Texas Cattlemen’s Association, and the Southwestern Cattlemen’s Association. He is a member of the Farm Bureau and a director of the Ranchers Co-op at Hominy where he markets some of his cattle.
Vi teaches a class of 35-50 year-old women at the Wynona Baptist Church where they are both members and Ed is a trustee. Vi also takes an active part in the Order of the Eastern Star. Truly western in their occupation, mode of living, and pioneer spirit, Ed and Vi are also active in the Wynona Roundup Club.
For relaxation, they enjoy fishing in their ponds which are stocked with catfish, perch, and bass. Some of the bass run three and one-half pounds and the cats over 12 inches long.
After 30 or more years of riding the range with his cattle, Ed is still the true cowboy, just as he was the day Vi married him. A hard worker, he sits tall in his saddle with his black hat, black silk neckerchief, neatly pressed jeans, and his fancy stitched cowboy boots.