The Pioneer Woman's husband: What you don't know about him

The Pioneer Woman's Ree and Ladd Drummond are arguably the most wholesome power couple in America. Their Food Network program provides a seemingly inside view of their life on a sprawling Oklahoma ranch. While she cooks up a storm for friends and family, never shying away from beef or butter, Ladd wrangles cattle and ensures that the ranch and their many other projects operate smoothly. And while it sounds like a relic from an older, simpler time — part of their appeal, for sure — it's legit how things are run on Drummond Ranch.

Ladd — or, as Ree calls him, the Marlboro Man — is more than just a handsome cowboy. He's truly Ree's co-pilot. And as much as he's a man of few words, which lends itself to his enigmatic demeanor, there's a lot going on below the gentle patriarch's country cowboy surface. So without further ado, here's what we dug up on the Pioneer Woman's husband that you might not have known before. 

The romance is real

If you don't know how the Drummonds first met, prepare yourself for a pretty romantic story. Ree was newly single and had come home to Oklahoma from California to "regroup" and apply for law school in Chicago, according to an interview with BookPage. That's when one night she spied a handsome and mysterious stranger at a smoky bar, and she was smitten. Apparently the feeling was mutual, because that man was Ladd Drummond, now her longtime husband. Clearly it worked out — and Ree never wound up moving to Chicago.

Even though the Drummonds are long past the honeymoon stage, they've put in the work necessary to sustain their marriage. "I don't believe that romance conquers all and love conquers all," Ree mused. "But the passion — I don't know — it propels you forward through the tough times." 

However, their storybook romance might never have been if Ree hadn't been patient, because Ladd didn't call her the day after they first met. Or the next week. Homeboy waited four months to call back, according to an article Ree penned in Country Living. What on earth was the holdup?

He's given her some major ideas

Fans of Ree know this story: After Ree got pregnant on her honeymoon and spent the next seven years bearing and raising four children, Ladd decided to give her a moment to herself. According to The New Yorker, he took all four children out on the range, leaving Ree alone with her thoughts. That's what gave her the time to start her blog, The Pioneer Woman, which was the seed for what's now an empire of cookbooks, a television show, a line of homeware, a restaurant and retail store, and a hotel. Crazy!

But Ree didn't come up with these ideas on her own. In fact, it was Ladd who encouraged her to start her blog, according to People magazine. And he later came up with the idea for the hotel and more. "Every good idea I've had has come from him," Ree confessed. "I think of myself as this independent woman who can handle everything herself, but I really trust his opinion." Given how successful it's all been, chances are we'll see more from the duo in the future.

He's more progressive than you might think

On the surface, the Drummonds' marriage appears very traditional — the cowboy spends the day on the range, while his wife spends the day in the kitchen. But scratch the surface just a little bit, and it's obvious that Ladd's more progressive than one might think, chaps and spurs aside. "The optics of our marriage are that it is very traditional," Ree noted in an interview with People magazine. "But in many ways, [it] is anything but traditional." 

How so? For one, Ladd often takes care of the kids so that Ree has time to work, whether that means driving them to soccer practice, having them work outside with him, or holding down the fort while she's away on business. "They've always been a team," Ree's mother, Gerre, shared in an interview with The New Yorker. "And this, coming from a Western ranch culture in which the men have traditionally been the kings." Who knew that there were modern cowboys out there? Keep living the dream, Ree!

Ranching was the only life for him

When it comes to Ladd, one thing is absolutely certain: ranching is and has always been his destiny — it's in his blood. For one, he's the co-owner of Drummond Land & Cattle Co., along with his brother Tim, and is a part of one of the top ranching families in America, according to People magazine. And the ranch, where Ladd and members of his extended family reside, has been in their family now for five generations. The house where he grew up? That's where he now lives with Ree and the kids. There's even a family cemetery on the property, showing just how connected he and his family are to that land. 

So do Ree and Ladd plan to make their children stay and work the land as he — and his father — did? "We want them to be able to come back if they want to," Ree penned on her blog. "But we don't want them to feel chained to the life if they want to go in another direction." Time will tell who takes the reins in the future.

One of his brothers died young

Speaking of the family cemetery, the Drummond family has not been untouched by tragedy. In fact, Ladd himself lost a family member at a very young age. "[Ladd's] oldest brother Todd was killed in a car accident when Todd was eighteen, the summer before he left for college," Ree shared in a post on her blog. He had been working on a family friend's ranch in Texas at the time. 

Of course, his passing shook the Drummond family to the core, according to another post on Ree's blog. "Tragic, life-altering, terrible," she continued. "Anyone who's lost a loved one to a car accident knows how much it rocks a family." That is beyond sad.

Ree and Ladd have done their part to keep his memory alive, though. They named their youngest son after him, as Ree noted on her blog. Clearly he will never be forgotten.

Think he was always loaded? Think again.

Just because the Drummonds are one of the top ranching families in the country doesn't mean money's never been a problem. In fact, the first decade of Ree and Ladd's marriage was super fiscally challenging. "We had financial struggles; we had everything that every couple goes through in the early years," Ladd revealed in an interview with People magazine. He's referring specifically to the dive his business took thanks to the Mad Cow disease scare in the 1990s. 

That meant the Drummonds had to tighten their belts in order to weather the financial storm. "The first six years that Ree and I were married we didn't take a single vacation," he continued. "And she never complained once." 

Clearly all that patience has paid off because the Drummonds sure are loaded now. On top of the $23.9 million they've received as of November 2017 from the Bureau of Land Management for allowing wild horses and burros on their property, it's estimated that Ree Drummond is worth $8 million by herself, according to AOL. Factor that in with their successful cattle business, and they are rolling in dough.

He got Ree to start eating this again

You wouldn't know it from the foods Ree often cooks on her show, which includes all kinds of animal proteins like beef (duh), but — believe it or not — Ree was once a vegetarian, according to her blog. Of course, that didn't stick, and it's likely because of Ladd. "I'm kind of a picky eater, so I'm not the best guy in the world to cook for," he admitted in an interview with People magazine. "I'm a man who just really likes meat and mashed potatoes." So, having a vegetarian chef in the house just wasn't going to work out for him.

Ree obviously didn't mind the conversion, as she has no moral objections to raising and eating animals. "I believe we treat the animals with the utmost care and regard, and I believe we have canine teeth because we were meant to eat animal flesh," she shared in another post on her blog.

So, what was it that brought her back to the carnivore camp? "Ladd cooked me a steak sizzling in butter, and it was all over," she revealed to People. That would do it!

His favorite non-work activity

Running a 433,000-acre cattle ranch isn't light work by any stretch of the imagination — there is a lot to do out there! So much, in fact, that Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two days during the year that the family doesn't have to work, according to People. That's a pretty grueling schedule, for sure.

But that doesn't mean they work 24 hours a day, so Ladd is able to score some downtime in the evenings. So what's his favorite activity when it's time to unwind? Why, watching movies on Netflix with his wife on the couch, of course! "He's watched every movie that's ever been made," Ree revealed to People. We wonder if he likes Westerns...

Oddly enough, you won't catch Ladd streaming all episodes of Godless at once. That's because he "doesn't believe in binge-watching," according to Ree. Apparently Ladd's super traditional in that regard!

You won't believe what he did during their wedding reception

Ree and Ladd Drummond have been married for over two decades, as noted by People magazine — that's a long time! But when a reader asked Ree what her wedding was like, or if they did anything special at the reception, she had a surprising answer. "The only thing special about the reception was that Marlboro Man was holed up in the men's locker room watching Arizona State (his alma mater) play Nebraska, the defending national champions," she shared in a post on her blog. For real?

For real. "ASU won, and Marlboro Man wasn't missing it either for the world or for our wedding reception," Ree continued. "He says the game was a good omen." While we're not so sure it's worth missing out on cake and champagne, sports is obviously something that Ladd holds near and dear. At least he made it to the ceremony!

So does the Marlboro Man smoke?

For a long time, fans of the Pioneer Woman didn't really know exactly who Ree and Ladd Drummond were, as she didn't share their last name, as noted by a post on her blog. She also referred to her husband as the "Marlboro Man," instead of using his real name. Why? She wanted "to maintain a tiny speck of anonymity," which obviously didn't last very long. Now everyone knows who they are!

Where did Ree come up with his now-famous nickname? "About a year after we got married, a woman ... noticed my husband sitting on the porch," she shared in an interview with the Journal Sentinel. "She said, 'Who is that Marlboro Man?' It stuck." We can see why, too.

So does Ladd smoke like the Marlboro Man did? "He does not and he never has," Ree confirmed, even though they had met in a smoky bar. So, the name is all about the image people used to see in advertisements for Marlboro cigarettes, but not actually because of the smokes themselves.