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                                                                                                                                            Dawgwood Farm Sheepdog Trial December 8-9 2012
                                                                                                                      By Judy Moran
Clouds cleared, temperatures rose, and dogs and handlers were ready to go at Wink Mason’s Dawgwood Farm trial held December 8th and 9th. Trial Secretaries Judy Moran and Kelly Moran, and Judge Kenny Wright, kept things moving along, with lots of help from scribes Sylvia Broderick and Sandy Getz, pen/set out crew Don Desrosiers, Barbara Kuckenbecker and Dave Apker, and Deb Nosse who exhausted on the larger field.
Dawgwood Farm lent itself to challenging runs that tested the dogs and handlers. The front field, smaller than the back field, provided the opportunity for the dogs and handlers to show their skills. The larger back field, with more open, rolling terrain, provided longer out runs and drives. Again, dogs and handlers showed their skills and abilities providing for a good weekend of trialling.
Dawgwood Farm provided lunch and the handlers’ camaraderie was evident over the meal of homemade chili, salads, hot dogs, and a lot of desserts while we warmed up around the fire pit.
After the second trial each day, there was enough time to allow non-compete runs for those wanting to test their dogs at the next level -- giving their owners a taste of what next trial season holds.
Thanks go out to Wink Mason for hosting the trial.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                       The Dawgwood Experience
                                                                                                  By Billy Pritchard


It was my first visit to Wink Mason’s Dawgwood Farm in Goldvein, VA, and I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew Mason had been hard at work clearing the land since he bought the 65-acre farm 12 years ago but had no idea what its stage or status would be.
I was there to judge a herding trial in early January at the farm, which is neatly tucked away just off U.S. 17 between Warrenton and Fredericksburg (the next event there is a sanctioned Border Collie trial February 16-17). First impression? Wow. Better than expected, actually. And, after a thorough tour of the rolling terrain in Mason’s Artic Cat, very impressed.
Of the former corn fields once plowed by horses and mules long ago and since overcome with scrub pines, thorny bushes and small saplings, Mason has carved out 35 presentable acres, complete with roads, cleared fields, miles of fencing and cross-fencing, and thousands of dollars in expensive stock sorting equipment.
Mason has also erected a covered pavilion at the center of the farm, complete with parking, electricity, water and picnic tables, as a central training and trialling area. He laid all of the electric and water lines throughout the farm himself.
“It has been a pay-as-you go operation,” Mason explained in an interview. Now I know why Mason has been living monastically in a simple one- room building on the farm for the past decade or so. Mason showed me his plans for his new ranch house on the farm years ago, but the house was put on hold until he could wrangle the land into its present shape. That meant many years, hours upon hours, of bulldozing through thick scrub growth, piling and burning huge heaps of debris, pulling stumps and planting newly plowed pastures.
“I could qualify as a certified heavy equipment operator if I need to,” Mason said. That is, if his primary job as a herding dog trainer, which he has faithfully and enthusiastically done for the past 27 years, doesn’t work out. Currently, he runs around 100 healthy and challenging Katahdin sheep on the farm for trials and training.
Mason has judged many a Border Collie trial. He was also an open handler in countless Border Collie trials before giving up the competition field to concentrate on whipping his farm into shape. He has been a member of the Virginia Border Collie Association since the mid-1980s, serving for more than 20 years as a board member and two years as its president.
In 1999, Mason was responsible for bringing the first National Border Collie finals to the east coast at Belle Grove Plantation. “I was told it could not be done,” Mason recalled. “We put together 600 nursery class sheep and 1,600 open class sheep. Proceeds from the trial went to Dr. Atkins to finish his last year of developing the genetic testing for eyes in Border Collies.”
Mason also managed the Novice Class field of the Blue Grass trial in Kentucky for 11 years and, along with Stu and Barbara Ligon, started and managed the Montpelier trial until it was turned over to the VBCA about 11 years ago.

                                                                                                                


                                                                                                              Dawgwood Farm back field looking from the post to the set out Credit: Wink Mason