Building a Diversified Ranch
By Laci Jones
The 101 Ranch was officially established in 1893, and the Millers began diversifying their ranch throughout the next few decades. The Miller family saw the need to diversify to avoid the downfall of the business panic of 1893. That winter, they borrowed money to plant 5,000 acres of wheat, yielding 70,000 bushels, wrote Ellsworth Collings in
“The 101 Ranch.” The wheat sold for a record-breaking $1.20 per bushel in Chicago.
The success of the wheat crop inspired the Miller family to continue on their plans for diversification. They then planted alfalfa, kaffir and corn. They later also planted orchards, vegetables and melons.
According to Michael Wallis in “The Real Wild West,” they planted “nearly half a carload of watermelon seed.” Like wheat, their watermelon crop was also successful with watermelons as big as 60 pounds. Local farmers started purchasing seed from the 101 Ranch rather than doing business with the large seed companies.
The days of herding Longhorns across the trails were gone, and the Millers invested in higher-quality beef cattle. The first breed of cattle that arrived at the 101 Ranch were Shorthorn, according to Collings. However, it was not long before Holsteins and Herefords were added to the ranch.
They also experimented with crossbreeding, importing Brahma cattle to cross with the Millers’ cattle to create a “drought-resisting animal.” The crossbreeding method transferred over to crops as the Millers began agricultural experiments. They even developed two new varieties of corn, according to Collings. These varieties, “White Wonder” and “Improved Indian Squaw,” were adapted to the dry conditions of Oklahoma.
The Millers also added a wide variety of other animals to the ranch including hogs, poultry and more. The poultry on the ranch extended far beyond chickens including ostriches, peafowls, turkeys, geese, guineas and pigeons.
Pick up the February issue to learn more!