It doesn't get much more Albertan than this. Find out what keeps the Thomson family doing this yearly tradition after decades. 3:54
The sun is just rising as they set out for the day.
Departing from the XL Ranch tucked in just east of Black Diamond, southwest of Calgary, the Thomsons have done these cattle drives for decades and they want to get ahead of the hot weather to come.
The goal is to move their cattle to greener pastures that they lease from the Alberta government out near Kananaskis Country. The route winds south of Black Diamond, crossing the Sheep River near Turner Valley, before hitting Highway 546 out to the forestry road.
"It's better than working in an office for eight and 10 hours a day," says John Thomson, adding he will probably ride until he can't.
"I've been doing it for probably 55, 60 years, and my sons have been with me since they were big enough to ride."
His son, Chad Thomson, says there are couple reasons for the ride.
"We trail our cattle up just because we find it's better than lingering [trucking] them. It's easier on the cattle, less stress," he said.
"It's good for their feet to come on the road. And yeah, it's just tradition for us. Just five generations of doing it."
The deer and elk like it too, as the cows munch on grass — sparking new growth. It also allows the Thomsons to hay their fields for when the cattle return in the fall.
It sure is an interesting sight, even for traffic caught up in the interesting jam.
Take a look through the meandering ride below, or watch the video above for more.