One of our first stops on our trip to Oklahoma, after some multi-family birthday parties for me, was actually not in Oklahoma. Since being in Seoul can wear on us country folks, we desperately needed a trip to the family ranch in Missouri. Living in the city has its advantages, but a relaxing day on the ranch can relax the most stressed and worn out individual. We loved having the opportunity to see family and do some of the country things we’ve missed while living in Korea. These things require space to stretch out. As you will see, we also needed laws allowing firearms and open fires in order to fill the voids in our Oklahoma hearts.
The family ranch is quite large. There are several family members that live on this ranch in different corners and sections. There are dozens of structures, some inhabited and many abandoned from bygone years of farming. Barns and old houses are a pleasure to see while driving the dirt roads, and even more fun to climb around in.
The Hedger men love shooting their guns. Since we aren’t able to hunt as much as we’d like, periodic afternoons spent shooting clay pigeons are necessary. Stephanie and Andrea both fired shotguns for the first time and actually hit some moving clay targets! Quite a few therapeutic boxes of ammunition were spent this afternoon and the boys refilled their shooting quotas. Something about shooting a gun lights me up, especially when I have been away for such a long time; unable to partake in my country hobbies.
After exercising our trigger fingers and having a great time blasting coffee cans and clay pigeons, we headed to one of the stocked ponds for a bit of fishing. There had been rumors of someone pulling in a massive bass recently from this pond, so we tied on lures and set out to see how big these Largemouth really were. Right off the bat, Andrea and Jason (my brother and his girlfriend) caught some decent-sized fish. Andrea landed hers first and then Jason caught one while reeling his lure in to help her out. Eventually Stephanie and I both caught fish as well. Stephanie’s was the unverified biggest of the day and also the last before we moved on to other activities. My dad, Jeff, was the only one to come up empty handed. He blames this on helping everyone else get set up and fishing.
As the country light faded behind the hills, the Hedger clan headed to the creek where my dad set up for a fish fry. After battering the white bass (or sand bass), which is the state fish of Oklahoma, he fried them perfectly in a cast-iron skillet atop a deep frying rig that every country home should include. We settled in next to the creek with little else noise than the running water and birds overhead. Stephanie collected firewood that Jason and I used to keep us warm while we all ate this incredibly satisfying meal of fried fish, baked beans, corn bread, and potato salad. No one left hungry, but all of us left happy.
We find ourselves missing many things from our home state of Oklahoma while living abroad in South Korea, but days with family spent enjoying each others’ company will be the hardest to leave behind for the second time. This trip to the ranch was a much needed break from the city life we had been living in Seoul. While not every day in Oklahoma is filled with firearms, frying fish, and family gatherings; they are some warm reminders of what we have waiting for us any time we are home. We had an incredible experience and really enjoyed stretching our legs here. If anyone hasn’t tried a relaxing day in the country to reset your attitude, we will gladly vouch for its redeeming effects. You just need some good ol’ fresh air from time to time.