Post written by Maddie Dunlap, Agricultural Communication senior.
Julie Dunlap is truly one of the most caring and selfless mothers I have met. Most of us can say the same. What puts my mother among the crème de la crème is that she has all the super powers moms have while balancing a career as a strong cattlewoman.
Julie Marie Gilligan grew up in the San Jose hills, going to a K-12 one room school. She was the only person in her class until shortly before her graduation. With a school that small, sports were not an option. Instead, the kids at Harney School spent their recesses lining up for their turn at the roping dummy.
After graduating high school, my mom moved to the big city of Salinas to go to Hartnell Community College. She joined her brother Jim who promptly told all the cowboys to stay away from his sister Julie. Luckily, one of the rodeo cowboys either didn’t hear Jim Gilligan’s warning or didn’t care. Jim Dunlap met Julie Gilligan when she began sharing photos she took of the rodeo team. My dad eventually joined Cal Poly’s rodeo team with my mom alongside him. After they dated for five years, they were married.
Two kids later, my dad’s rodeo career came to an end. The Dunlap family found themselves back in my dad’s hometown of Williams, CA. My dad found a job with the One Bar Cattle Company. That was 20 years ago. My parents still manage the ranch and have helped grow it to over 900 head of angus cross cattle.
My mom has been essential to the success of the ranch. In addition to caring for the cattle, my parents also train several horses that are used to help work the cattle. My mom starts most of the horses as young colts, helping to build the foundation for the rest of their training.
Working with large animals can have its fair share of dangers. About eight years ago, while sorting cattle in the coral, my mom’s horse was spooked and ended up crushing her between her saddle and the fence. The accident ending up rupturing her bladder and breaking multiple vertebrae in her neck. After the dust settled and my mom was released from the hospital, she got right back to her job. Her job of being a mother. I was in the middle of softball season and my dad was already in Oregon for the summer with the cattle. Not missing a beat, my mom drove me to my game an hour away, neck brace and all.
There are many caring, hardworking women who balance a job and a family flawlessly. A woman in agriculture is something truly special. The cows always need something, but so do her children. My mom does it all. She has been a shining example in my life of how a woman can be successful in a man’s world with the strength and grace that only a woman has.