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Thursday, December 24, 2015

And A Happy New Year






Christmas is upon us and I'm looking forward to the new year more than I have in many years. Our program is growing by leaps and bounds. New horses, new people, new programs, and, most of all, a renewed sense of mission.

New horses--over the past year we have acquired three Choctaw mares that will be used in our riding program, in our Corolla off-site breeding program, in  our Choctaw preservation program, and perhaps even in a  endurance racing program. We will have several foals born in 2016. I hope that we will have a Grand Canyon foal, a Corolla foal, and Bacca/Brislawn foal. I am especially looking forward to the birth of a foal from my marsh tacky mare who is bread to Scoundrel Days our Grand Canyon stallion.

This summer I expect our living history reenactments to expand substantially to the point that they become weekly events. Our agricultural program will be expanding both with a larger colonial garden and perhaps with a small colonial style tobacco patch. We are launching a new program that allows families to spend a long weekend actively participating in our horse training and riding programs. We are keeping the cost very low in order to make it an affordable vacation experience for people all across the country. As spring comes upon us, we will be obtaining more colonial heritage chickens and this might even be the year for us to obtain a pair of weanling Colonial Spanish heritage steers who will eventually be trained to pull as oxen. We have the possibility of acquiring substantially more land for our program. If this comes into being we will have an even better setting for our breed conservation efforts.

We are about to launch a fund raising effort to fund the digging of a deep well and watering and irrigation system.  We are looking to raise about $13,000.00. We have raised nearly one thousand dollars without asking so I have no doubt that we will be able to reach that goal.

We will be slowly moving into endurance racing..our horses excel in this sport and the only judge is a stopwatch. Stopwatches do not share the prejudices of the established horse world. They are one of the few forms of the equine competition in which a Mustang gets a fair chance.

Ashley Edwards, of the Road to Repair, is expanding her programming to include even more than training for law enforcement and others who deal with severely traumatized people,. She has begun to develop a direct services program called The Other Side that gives victims of severe trauma an opportunity to enhance their healing with our horses. Kay Kerr's PTSD program that we conduct for the local veterans hospital continues to do to be one of the most important things that we do.

Our music program is moving into a new level with the kids learning to take a stronger role in the vocals and in 2016 I plan to have the kids on stage in a variety of venues. Kay Kerr will be heading down to South Carolina for another event for the Equus film Festival where she will sign copies of her great children's book on Croatoan. Pam continues to expand the computer sales program which brings in much needed funding for us. We are a 501 (c) 5 non profit breed conservation program.

I plan for our program to assist the Currituck County Department of tourism as it develops a promotional program that will include a reenactment of young Betsy Dowdy's all night ride to warn the North Carolina militia that Gov. Dunmore, colonial governor of Virginia, was amassing forces at Great Bridge in order to launch an invasion of Carolina. Her little-known ride was much longer and much more difficult than Paul Revere's short ride from Boston toward  Concord.

And… I plan to write a sequel to my first book, "And a Little Child Shall Lead Them" that will focus on the workings of our program and my experiences in building that program over the last decade.

This morning I turned 56 years old. When I turned 57 years old I intend to look back over the past year and be very pleased with what we have accomplished.

Cause tough old billy goats  never give up.



1 comment:

George W said...

Happy Birthday, Steve!

It does not seem like I have been in residence at Mill Swamp for four years. It does not seem like the same program my little family showed up to check out one Snowy February day...there are many days that I cannot recall with clarity, but I remember that one. We stayed lost for awhile trying to find the place, and when we did, it was a bunch of snow covered folks loading hogs in a pickup truck to make the coming year's bacon...this is not what one expects when visiting the farm where one expects their daughter's to attend riding lessons.
Unless you happen to be me. I thought it was perfect.
I did not understand it at the time, knew little about horses, although I come from a long line of stockmen.
But it felt like home.
Almost every day...automatically it seems, I find myself turning up the path...can't stay away.
People come into the program..people go...but the constant is that this little farm gets unter the skin and stays with you...you don't want to leave...always want to come back, much as an enduring childhood dream.
A wise man said, 'you can never go back home.'
He had never been to Mill Swamp. It is a childhood dream which only gets better.

This past year, we have seen explosive growth in the size and complexity of the programming, but more importantly we have seen explosive growth in many, many young people. Young men who came here withdrawn...waiting for that switch to be thrown so that they can achieve their birthright...the confidence and restraint, the strength and reflex of a human male; young ladies filled with exuberance and life, wanting a channel for it to flow through. These young people have accomplished much over the past year, whether learning to with grace, or 'bustin' a hoss' all on their own...or maybe just having a place of peace and security to exist..
They are next year's teachers...they will be the ones showing the new kids how to tack up...they will be the ones to say..."hand down, sit on your pockets, heels down, toes in front of knees!"
There are a couple of them whom I see doing that now.
Save horses....build people.

Well...I should get off here, as I have a long way to go yet today, I do wish you, each and every one, a happy and safe holiday season, and I will see you Saturday. Bring muck boots. -Lloyd