The Road to Big Willow

photo credit: Bonnie Block, Field and Farm Wildlife Photography, www.fieldandfarmphoto.com

Big Willow  2013.  I’m having a difficult time, this weekend, with managing the past.  The passing of time, and the way that it goes.  The way it just flows away behind us.

How many times have I driven up this winding and dusty road, straight into the glare of the rising sun?  Sometimes kind of sick with trepidation (maybe because I’m verging on tardiness and the possibility of missing my first run!), sometimes full of anticipation.  A Peruvian shepherd lounging  on a hillside in the yellow grass, surrounded by his dogs, distantly observes me.  Cattle loose in my path, including a massive black bull who’s considering offering a challenge to my truck.  And, over the last rise, tucked into a tiny valley dwarfed by the majesty of the endless, rolling, dully golden surrounding geography, lies the toylike mini- world of trailers, canopies, sniffing, pissing dogs, vehicles.  Handlers - my friends, nemesis, regardless,  they’re  my special community of people - milling about the tall rustic stick that’s the Big Willow handler’s post, awaiting the meeting.

Laura Vishoot and dogs at Palm Cottage FarmMany times.  I’m not really sure how many.

It’s always the same dusty road.  The same village of weirdos like me.  The music I’m playing becomes imprinted in my mind and inexorably linked to that moment of driving on that road.  Certain songs by Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Massive Attack, Elliot Smith,  will trigger forever the feelings about the state of my life when driving on that road, letting the music inside.

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Hopland

Laura Vishoot and dogs at Palm Cottage Farm

November 13 - 14 2010

Wow. It was actually HOT in Mendocino County in November. We soggy Oregonians were in danger of melting away! We soldiered through it, though. What a breathtaking venue for this trial, which is hosted by the Regents of the University of California and held at their Agricultural Station in Hopland. Sheep were shepherded range ewes which offered their own brand of challenge, and the course was ... not easy. Not easy at all. We had a blast, from the multi dog slumber party in the motel room to Tom's move to Open, and Brynn's admirable step up to work on filling Ripley's shoes for a while.

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Willamette Valley Winter Trial

Laura Vishoot and Trialing of the Sheep Festival

October 30, 2010 - Third Annual Willamette Valley Winter Trial Series

This year we kicked off the series at Ian and Raven's Boo and Baa trial on October 30 (at Wolston Farm). Entrants were encouraged to wear costumes, and they did not disappoint. Among the notables were a complete contingent of characters from "The Wizard of Oz," hailing from the State of Jefferson.

Magnolia Farm was second on the schedule, followed on Thanksgiving Saturday by the Palm Cottage Farm Soggy Sheepdog Trial.

Weather, as always, made things extra interesting.

A beautiful crook, crafted by Ian Caldicott , was awarded to the top Open team of the series ... congratulations to Ian Caldicott, with Joe Kidd!

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