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Diede, of rural Richardton, named Rancher of the Year

Alfred Diede, the Rough Rider Commission's 2013 Rodeo/Rancher of the Year, looks while in the kitchen at his ranch June 12 near Richardton at photos of when he brought his oncologist out for his first-ever ride on a horse.

RURAL RICHARDTON -- When Alfred Diede took a seat on the front porch of his ranch southeast of Richardton on June 12, the only sound for miles was that of cattle mooing in his barn.

Diede, 77, has been manning the operation of more than 300 cattle by the Stark-Morton county line since 1956 when his parents retired.

"I was born here and lived here all my life, except for three years," Diede told The Dickinson Press after learning that he had been named the Roughrider Commission's 2013 Rodeo/Rancher of the Year. "I guess I, more or less, knew that I would take this place over someday since I've been ranching my whole life and raising cattle for a long time."

Married to his wife, Lorine, for 54 years last week, the couple has three adult children, Judy, Dale and Clint.

Diede's passion for farming appeared to rub off on the next generation when Clint, who also lives on the ranch, and his grandson, Cassidy, joined him in the family business.

"My son and grandson have cows now too. Everybody has cows," Diede said. "It's good to see him doing this and that my older grandson wants to try and get into ranching now."

A lot of work goes into operating the ranch, so Diede draws on his family's help. Nonetheless, he still handles most of the ranch's daytime responsibilities, including the daily feeding of the cattle in the winter, which he does with Lorine at his side most times.

"It's hard sometimes operating the ranch, so having (my son and grandson) has really helped, especially since I've battled cancer for 13 years," Diede said. "I didn't think I would be able to keep it up for this long, but it seems like something wants me to be here, I guess. It's been good."

Diede, who still does five to six brandings a year, could only speculate on who might have nominated him for Rancher of the Year, but said he is almost positive his friend, Jim Erickson at Stockmen's Livestock Exchange Inc. in Dickinson, was behind it.

"I'm pretty sure it was Jim because he was the one who called to tell me I'd won and when he told me, he chuckled," Diede said. "I'm not used to this stuff."

Diede and Erickson have known each other for about 30 years. Erickson found success on his second try at nominating Diede for Rancher of the Year.

"I nominated him a year ago too because he really deserves it," Erickson said. "He's been ranching for a lot of years and still ropes and brands cattle and is still a cowboy, so I wasn't surprised to hear he had finally won (Rancher of the Year)."

With a passion for his work, Diede reeled his son and grandson into a life in agriculture.

This year, he thought it was time to let his oncologist in Bismarck, who is originally from Uganda, take a stab at it.

"He told me that he had never been on a horse before," Diede said, with a hint of surprise in his voice. "So we got him to come out here and ride one."

If Diede can't be found on his own ranch, he is likely helping others rope cattle. He did that earlier this month at a friend's ranch in Montana.

"Roping isn't hard, especially since I've done it for years and years and years now," he said. "It's fun to do because everybody does their job, then we go in and have a nice meal and get to sit around and talk for hours. It's like a big reunion."

It's a life Diede doesn't regret taking up for a second.

"Agriculture is sometimes hard to get into now because prices are high, but you can still get into the business," he said. "When you do, you just have to live and learn and be willing to make mistakes. If it's a big enough mistake, you can be sure you won't do it again."