7 UP Ranch
Zach James grew up on a horse, running cattle on a farm his great-grandfather started near Terlton.
“My family came to Oklahoma in 1908,” James said. “My great-grandad started with 160 acres, and wound up with about 4,000 deeded acres and about 4,000 leased acres.”
After some hard times during the Great Depression, the family started new and had about 700 head of cattle by the end of WWII, James said.
“In the 1950s, they used to haul in cattle off the reservations in Arizona to Pawnee on rail cars, and then drive them here on horseback,” he said.
They don’t drive the cattle there on horseback anymore, but James said he remembers when they would arrive.
“We used to have semis lined up this highway, up to the house,” he said, referring to Oklahoma State Highway 99 near SH 51.
James showed steers in high school, and participated in high school rodeo during his junior and senior years. Now, he has his own herd and plans to expand it.
“When I was 14 or 15, I started with 15 cows,” he said. “When I was 17, I went to the bank and got a $10,000 loan and started buying and selling stocker cattle, and it grew from there.”
Now he runs about 250 head for his cow-calf operation, and 150 of stocker cattle on almost 5,000 acres of land, rented and owned.
“I’d like to get up to about 500 cows and calves, and then 500 stockers,” he said.
James is the fourth generation to hold the family brand — 7 Up — and he is keeping ties with the brand’s heritage.
“It started with my great-grandad, Silver Glen Johnson, and then went to my grandad, Muggyown Johnson,” he said adding that his mother worked the brand as well. “When Grandad died, I registered the brand in my name.”
James said he learned a lot from his grandfather.
“He was my best friend,” he said. “He taught me everything I know. If the cattle market is up, make the best of it. If it’s down, that’s just part of the game. He had cattle in Kansas too, and I remember making two trips to Kansas a day hauling cattle in the truck.”
James runs his cattle on horseback, like his great-grandfather.
“I use his saddle,” he said, made by RI Frazier in Colorado. “We do about 75 percent of everything on horseback. My cattle handle a lot easier on horseback, and I like the cowboy side of it.”
James was raised in the ranching lifestyle, so he decided to stick with it.
“Ranching is in my blood,” he said. “I love it. It’s about all I know, and I like sitting on my back porch watching the cattle graze.”