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Dear Friends,

A nice lady phoned me last night to ask if she could come to our sheepdog trial. Sure, I told her. Spectators are welcome. “How much”?

“Eight bucks a carload. Bring friends.”

Will we have food?

Best burgers you’ll ever eat and hot dogs for the kids. Chips. Soda, sweet tea, bottled water.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday Labor Day Weekend. Start when the fog lifts – 8? – and finish up sometime after three. If we have time we’ll take an hour lunchbreak.

Bring lawnchairs.

 

Anyway, I hung up thinking I hadn’t really told her what to expect. Our farm is a typical Appalachian Mountain farm, slightly gussied up for visitors. We think it’s a pretty place. You and the kids can wander anywhere but most spectators find a spot in the clipped area or under the big green Obaugh Funeral Home tent. Thea Marshall will be flipping burgers. That’s her daughter Emma who took your eight bucks.

 

Deb Crowder handles the sheep at the letout and Julie Poudier sets them out. Judge Tom Lacy deducts for every tiny flaw in performance and every fall from grace.

 

Your mannerly dog is welcome and Saturday, after the trial, our Preacher Punker Robertson will bless all the dogs.

 

The trial course is big - six hundred yards from the dog to the sheep and the sheep are from a commercial flock and disinclined to cooperate.

 

If you’ve not seen a sheepdog trial before, you will see dogs quietly and calmly do things you didn’t know dogs could do. While handlers are very competitive, good humor and jokes are the order of the day. Sheep and dogs are handled respectfully and gently.

 

It’s a pretty day in the country and we hope you can join us.

 

From the North and East: In Stauton Virginia take US 250 W over the mountain. Turn left on 616, left at the T junction at the bridge. We’re 12.8 miles from where you left 250. Look for the sheepdog sign.

From the West and South: In Millboro Springs Virginia take US 39 W 1 mile to 678 (Williamsville) on your right. In Williamsville, cross the bridge – we’re 2.5 miles n the right (sheepdog sign).

 

Your GPS will probably get you to Williamsville, your cell phone won’t work.

 

If you get lost, ask.

 

Donald McCaig

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One of my goals was to attend your trial, and I had the privilege to do so a few years ago. Farm willing and husband willing (he is, if the farm's willing), I hope to do so again this year.

 

Your farm is utterly wonderful - quiet (other than sheep noises, dog noises, camper noises, bird noises, breeze noises); beautiful, green and lush, flanked in front and rear with wooded ridges and the river (where the dogs love to play); isolated, with stars that you can hardly see elsewhere in the middle Atlantic, and (as you said) no interruptions from cell phones.

 

The trial is a wonderful test of dogs and handlers. The food is great, the comradery is great, even the funeral home tent is great. The drive there towing my camper that tends to bounce with every bit of corduroy-like dirt road texture? Not so great but scenic and a reminder to drive slowly and savor the moment.

 

If I make it, I'm going to take you up on that dinner offer. I could even help you sell some books, if you'd like.

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My favorite place in the whole wide world to set sheep...Debbie and I don't get to visit with folks much (except each other), but I wouldn't miss this trial for anything, even if I have to get a late start leaving after work on Friday.

 

I can attest to the fact that the food is excellent, and Thea is just plain awesome!

 

J.

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That was me that call. I'm so excited! I have never been to to one. My husband and I, adopted a border collie, 3 years ago from rockbridge county SPCA. He is more familiar with this breed then I was. We believe she might have more for breeding then working. Even on day one she was and is very will manner. Very energetic, and has to play everyday come hell or high waters except for the thundered. Ok, I'm rambling. But thank you and I can't wait for the trials.

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I have family outside of Staunton, so I stayed for a few days. I love the area, but stargazing is better at my house, no light pollution at home and I can pretty much see from horizon to horizon.

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Ah, Staunton (I went to school in Harrisonburg--love that part of VA and west). You still need to get up to the Williamsville area--can't see from horizon to horizon of course, because of the mountains, but light pollution is certainly zero. I'v threatened to become a squatter on Donald's property, but it's definitely not for those who can't stand to be "disconnected" from their cell phones for any length of time! ;)

 

J.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Dear Mightbe Attendees,

 

40 acre Trial field clipped, 220 sheep inspected, unsound sheep marked, big tent up, portopot delivered, course up, exhaust screened, apple pies cooling, strawberry rhubarb baking. Just a few little tasks left to do.

 

Please park as before on the south east rise (toward river) of the parking field. Northwest of the cones is wet.

 

We'll start trialing 37 fine open sheepdogs Saturday morning, soon as the fog lifts.

 

Y'all come.

 

Donald

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Dear Sheepdoggers,

 

After three days the sheep and guard dogs are glad to see the back of us. It got hot – upper 80’s and humid – but handlers and judge Tom Lacy were solicitous of the dogs and sheep and no harm done.

 

The sheep were even throughout the day and the running was sometimes very beautiful. I particularly thank Thea, Judge Tom Lacy, Brandon, Deb Crowder, Julie Poudrier, Priscilla Melchoir, Preacher Robertson, the Paolo Marks Band, Anne and the Evans. With Deb and Julie in charge of the top, and Tom and Thea running the bottom, my responsibility was the fetch gates which I never let out of my sight.

 

I botched Trial Entry dot Com again so you won’t find results there (Next year I’ll get a 12 year old to do the paper work so I can concentrate on those fetch gates.) Results however, are in the Sheepdog L files..

 

Donald McCaig

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