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During the cattle drive at the Johnson Stock Farm, nearly 30 horseback riders drove 400 cattle 14 miles to ranch near Sharon, N.D. (Trevor Peterson/Agweek)

Cattle drive brings friends and family together

When winter comes, it's time for ranchers to move their cattle out of pastures and bring them home. Many use pickups and trailers, but the Johnson family at the Johnson Stock Farm near Sharon, N.D., does it the old-fashioned way — with a cattle drive.

It's likely the largest cattle drive in eastern North Dakota.

Keith Johnson with the Johnson Stock Farm has been ranching his entire life and says that it's one of their biggest days of the year.

"Today we'll move almost 400 cows," he says.

People come from all over the area to participate, and new riders join the drive every year. This year on a snowy November day, nearly 30 horseback riders rode along.

Their mission is to move their herd roughly 14 miles back to their ranch where they can be cared for all winter.

"It actually saves us a lot of time versus hauling them, especially in weather like this ... it would probably take us three or four days to haul them, whereas this way, we can get it done in one day," says Johnson.

The Johnson cattle drive has been taking place for many years.

"We can't get an exact date, but we think it's been about 35 years or more," Johnson says. "It started out with me and five of my best friends. Then as people heard about it, everybody wants to come."

For Johnson, this day is a special one.

"Family is huge. I mean my whole family's participating today. Nephews, nieces, friends that come from all over. Just about all of my grandkids are here today. It's fun for me that they're interested it," he says.

An old fashioned cattle drive like this is a rare sight in eastern North Dakota, and Johnson wouldn't have it any other way: "Our place has been a place where friends meet and strangers becomes friends."

Click here to see this story on AgweekTV.

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