ALVA, Okla. (KFOR) – It’s been a few years now since the day Jerod Bradt decided on drastic measures to get his little Bradts, now three sons, away from the TV and outside.
“It was in September of 2012,” he recalls.
His menagerie started with laying hens, but quickly got much bigger.
Pointing behind him, Jerod chuckles, “My great-grandfather planted this row of trees right here. I don’t think he would have ever believed it would be used for shade for a yak.”
His great-grandparents, like every other farmer around the town of Alva in their time, grew winter wheat.
Jerod and JoDe went after a different kind of cash crop, harvesting their profits from visitors, some anxious to pet a camel or llama for the first time, to feed goats or see strange breeds of cattle.
“This is Igor,” says Jerod, pointing at a big, horned animal saddled for kids to ride. “He’s a seven year old Hindu Brazilian Watusi cross.”
Others visit to play on this 1948 Ford farm truck.
Jerod does use it to haul grain, but he also saw it as a great addition to their big playground.
He raised the bed as far as he could to make a slide.
“I always say I’m the biggest kid I know.”
Over the past few years, since 2015, the Bradts have called on their neighbors to borrow a few hundred round hay bales.
He always gives them back after his guests figure out how to get through them.
The Bradt hay bale maze is consistently the largest in Oklahoma, around a thousand bales in 2020.
“I just kept going,” he says.
So this year hasn’t exactly been a record breaker in a good way.
The family saw fewer guests, but those guests have needed more cheering up.
“What we want to do is to bring joy,” says JoDe Bradt. “And I hope that’s what happens.”
His boys are still out of the house more than in.
People who come over are generally happier when they leave than when they first arrived.
To put things in perspective means taking the long view.
Making it through all the twists and turns is always easier when you can rise above it.
The Bradt’s Menagerie is located a few miles west of Alva on Highway 64. They’re open Friday and Saturday during daylight hours.
The maze is also open at night if you want to go through by flashlight.