Saturday, June 10, 2017

Why Don't Your Pig Pens Stink? Why Is There Cardboard In Your Pig Pens?

The same answer applies to both questions. The available carbon that is held in the card board binds the ammonia/nitrogen in the manure, virtually eliminating odor while at the same time producing a rapidly decomposing compost.

Permaculture and related natural soil building techniques are fascinating to apply. The results are shocking to those of us who are only learning about this new/old world of agriculture.

On Conserving Super Horses: Saving the Corollas

A person whose experience was limited to modern horses was shocked at hearing that the Corollas could easily do fifty mile rides on one day to be followed with another such ride the next day, carry adult riders with no problems whatsoever, be trained to ride by children, and do it all with incredibly smooth, relaxed gaits, once huffed at me, "You seem to think that they are super horses!"

"Only when compared to modern breeds", I responded.

Here is our most recent colt produced in the Corolla offsite breeding program. Matchcoor is a warm and affectionate little athlete. A life of natural horse care, natural hoof care and being trained with natural horsemanship will bring his full talents into fruition.

Yes, super horses, in a very different category than most modern horses...and nearly extinct.

One cannot abstain from participation in this crisis. Unless one assists in preventing their extinction, one is clearly assisting their extinction.

Contact us at if you want to become part of this breeding effort.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


It was easier to make Lizzie smile than any kid at the horse lot. She liked to smile.

She was an athlete and she became a solid rider and trainer. We can't forget that she was the one who put the early morning hours of riding and training into getting Hickory Wind into the woods. She patiently trained her Colonial Spanish horse, Trouble, on her own. On a wonderful day nearly exactly a year from today's date she rode him flawlessly in the woods for the first time. And a bit over two years ago she was working to give Jasmine the confidence that Emily Heard brought to fruition.

And she was kind. She cared deeply about other people. When all is said and done there is nothing better to be said of a person than that they were kind and cared about other people.

And she was seventeen.

Pain can cloud one's vision. The vision can become so clouded that one will fail to see the myriad of paths and opportunities that are ahead. Pain can cause one to think that the options don't exist, that there is only one way to end the pain.

Everyone needs to be constantly reminded that there are options. No thought increases the pain more than the thought that there is only one choice. No thought helps fight off the pain more than the thought that there are options available.

Pain can cloud one's vision so that one feels a particular false feeling of isolation--a false feeling of being genuinely alone. If one could somehow see how much they are missed when they are gone and just how many people there are out there who cared deeply about them--they would have never felt alone.

It strikes me this morning that I never told Lizzie that I loved her. I talked to her about many things and gave her my best advice when I thought the time was right, but I never told her the one thing that is the most important thing for any human to ever hear.

I am not going around with any feeling of false guilt that if only I had said or done something else things could have turned out differently.

And no one should feel that way. I am not saying that we always have the power to say or do something that can extinguish the pain like some form of emotional Novocain.

But I am saying that every time God grants us the extraordinary privilege of being able to help someone else we should jump at that opportunity.

Lizzy liked to smile.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Two Generations--Family Horses

Colonial Spanish Horses have as strong need to bond with people. These pictures were taken a few years apart--my youngest daughter and my oldest granddaughter.

Things like this are part of the reason that author, Doris Gwaltney, referred to Mill Swamp indian Horses as a "place of love."

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Monday Night Music Program

Recently I was visited by a lady who wanted her grand children to learn about horses. She had researched riding programs across the region and had found that our program seemed "different from all of the others."

She was right. The breadth of what we do without a single paid staff person is shocking. There is nearly no aspect of our program that started with a concept followed by defined goals and objectives. Such thinking leads to conformity and adherence to rules and accepted beliefs that stifle creativity.

I have never been susceptible to such paralyzing beliefs. Our programs develop by polishing ad lib concepts. In every case the successful products end up being much better than my initial vision.

The best example is our music program. Teaching a few little  kids to sing the choruses of old songs has lead to weekly sessions where kids and adults learn to sing and play folk,  bluegrass, gospel and Americana music on a range of instruments.

They learn the meaning, history and cultural context of what they are playing. Most significantly, they learn of the origin and fusion of these songs from African, Scottish, Irish, and English roots. They learn how these songs fit into the development of our nation. They learn the power that music has to shape a culture's view of itself.

The music is taught the same way these ancient songs developed, on a pre-literate level. It is rare for the kids to ever see a written set of lyrics, much less sheet music. Instruments---- fiddle, banjo, dulcimers, dobro, autoharp, mandolin, bouzouki, wash tub bass, are introduced to program participants and they gradually pick up the basics of making beautiful and very simple accompaniments to very simple and deeply meaningful songs.

The picture above is from the Smithfield Concert series last August. It was the biggest performance that this group had ever had. This performance grew from our Monday night learning sessions.

Our last session brought something new to the Monday night music program---a small audience. These sessions are not concerts. They are not performances. We are used to having audiences for performances, but not for Monday nights at the tack shed.

Those are learning sessions and it never occurred to me that such sausage making would ever attract an audience. And as is typical in the development of all of our programs, that small audience creates the opportunity for program development and growth.

So, I will now start posting on the Mill Swamp Indian Horses group face book page an open invitation to the public to bring a lawn chair and come on back to the tack shed from 7-8 pm on Monday nights to watch and enjoy these learning sessions.

Don't come out expecting to hear spectacular performances. Instead come out expecting to watch an incredible group of young people enter the world of music in a relaxed pr,essure free atmosphere.

Check the facebook page each Monday to make sure that we are not rained out or otherwise having to cancel. If it suits your schedule, come on out to Mill Swamp Indian Horses at 9299 Moonlight Road Smithfield, Va 23430 on Monday's for the rest of the summer.