NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Of Character: Oklahoma woman shares her farm's bounty

Mary Ellen Wooderson and her husband, Harold, are in the kitchen of their home near Blackwell. DAVID MCDANIEL - 
Mary Ellen Wooderson and her husband, Harold, are in the kitchen of their home near Blackwell. DAVID MCDANIEL - OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE PHOTO

John Knisley believed “what you can make yourself is more satisfying than buying it.”

It’s a belief that continues to yield acts of kindness today through his daughter, Mary Ellen Wooderson.

“I feel I can help others most by sharing and donating bread made from our own wheat, beef from our farm, and other homemade items to local fundraising auctions, youth events, and community churches for their bazaars,” said Wooderson, 74, of Blackwell. “I have also furnished loaves of bread to new church prospective members.”

She enjoys sharing what she makes, whether it is with those in her community or family.

Wooderson was born in Blackwell at the hospital. One day later, husband Harold entered this world at the farm where the couple of 55 years has raised children, crops and cattle.

Children have led to grandchildren and now great-grandchildren.

“I am family oriented,” she said. “I love seeing them and cooking for them day to day, and especially on holidays, and spending Scrabble time with my sister. Family is what defines us. I’ve been blessed in many ways, from growing up in this community, to being part of a warm and caring family that are there for me in every way.”

The Woodersons’ farm has served not only their family. Like other farms, it has served those they have never met. She stops from time to time to think about that.

Wooderson keeps in her kitchen large, glass storage jars containing the products of crops their family raises. On the walls of the Woodersons’ northern Oklahoma home are wreaths and other decorations made of wheat.

When all is quiet, she sometimes stands and draws in their meaning.

“It’s comforting to look at them and know they’re something beautiful, as well as knowing you’re helping to feed the world,” Wooderson said.

She says time has taught her that both giving and receiving are a vital part of life.

“No one is immune to needing help at times in their lives,” she said. “Hopefully those who can do something to benefit others will pause and remember a kindness that was extended to them.”

Living on their farm near the Chikaskia River, she has seen years of bumper crops and those where the dirt was almost as easy to see at harvest time as the day the seeds were planted.

She’s seen some years where wheat showed its resiliency under stout challenges, such as in 1997.

That April, a late freeze hit many areas of Oklahoma. Harold tapped the frozen wheat with his boot and the ice crumbled.

“You know you’re going to survive, but it just breaks your heart,” she said. “You’ll be able to get by and work things out even if there’s no crop. But you watch them with everything on their shoulders, scrambling to make it work.

“At that point, you’ve just got to go to a higher being.”

But instead of devastation, the situation turned. May brought exceptional weather and in June, the Woodersons had a family-record crop.

“Our livelihood depends upon some things we cannot control,” Wooderson said, “but there is much satisfaction to creating a busy but pleasurable lifestyle. We know that we must care for and preserve this land, our natural resources, and this way of life for the future of everyone.”

Bryan Painter

Read more ›