by Cassie Nixon
Julie Jacobsen is a mother, wife, and livestock owner in Eastern Washington. She has recently launched her newest endeavor, AgSwag, an online apparel store with pop ups at local events, and in shops in Harrington and Dayton WA, and LaGrande, OR. Created as an extension of her family cattle raising operation, her designs have been inspired by her husband, Dirk and sons Colton, Luke, and Cass. Her business’ tagline, “Life is a Field, So Farm It”, was coined by Colton upon his graduation from High School.
In addition to designing merchandise and filling orders, she shares the triumphs and tragedies of rural living on her blog: agswag.us. She began seeing a disconnect between farm to table, and it was made apparent a few years ago when a vegan group attempted to infiltrate a livestock sale at a local auction. Julie realized that the cause these people were fighting for was based out of misunderstanding of what cattle ranchers lives really look like.
She writes: “The theory as I understood this group to stand for, wanted to hold vigils for the cattle at sale so the cattle understood that someone cared for them. This group also held a protest at a processing shop and wanted to stop the trailers that were hauling animals into the plant. They asked the drivers if they could “lay hands” on the animals so that they knew someone loved them before they were slaughtered. This is amazing to me! It amazes me that a group that appears to be so passionate about a cause has seemingly missed the boat on spending any significant time with a rancher. If they had, they would understand the tally of how often hands can be laid on an animal. At birth, assisted deliveries happen daily during peak calving season and while not every cow calving requires assistance the calves at some point get tended to. One blizzard we had a record number of calves in our home, 11 new babies spent the first 24-48 hours of their fresh start inside our house… In one case the tractor that was feeding that morning brought what looked like a chunk of black ice right up to the front porch. My husband laid the chunk down and started picking away at the face, this calf looked frozen solid and there was ice all around it’s airways. Once melted and dried and perked up a little they get moved to the dining room. The poor little buggers have been through so much they are calm and quiet and still just clinging on…After little bellies were full of warm milk they would be reunited with their mama. This is just the first 48 hours of life, there are so many seasons and stages a herd goes through and there are many more times that a rancher will lay his hands on his cattle. He will also pray for them…When the blood scabs over, the sweat dries up and tears have been shed prayer is all you have left.”
Julie encourages readers who would protest to spend time with the people they feel at odds with. In this case, the Vegan Protesters might have discovered “… a mutual respect for the animal. The rancher may not have hugged his cow that morning but I would make a bet that he/she has laid hands, prayed, borrowed money, received stitches/broken bones, sacrificed vacations, missed weddings, funerals (insert any important event here really) all for the sake of a cow.”