Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wild Horses at Island Farm, Manteo, NC

My daughters, Julia and Dineane, and I visited Island Farm in Manteo, NC this past Thursday. Island Farm is a living museum teaching about farm life on the Outer Banks in the nineteenth. We had a grand time touring the furnished two-story house, watched a weaving demonstration, and we invited to touch and pick up anything we wished to examine closer.

Outside, Gloria Abbs demonstrated how clothes were washed and my daughter was good natured enough to give scrubbing on a washboard a try and let me photograph her.

The farm is really a working farm, with chickens, sheep, and cattle. Crops include sweet potatoes and corn. There is a vegetable garden, herbs and a beehive for the sweet tooth. We took an ox drawn cart ride around the grounds and the driver told us about the history of the farm.

Before leaving we had a nice chat with Jennifer Frost, who we’d met on entering when we bought our passes. She told us that in the pasture across the road from the main farm were two of Corolla’s wild horses. The horses are descended from sixteenth century European explorers and colonists. The horse have been an important part of the history and culture of the area ever since.

The farm took the horses on because the wild herd needs culling from time to time to keep the herd at a healthy and manageable size. But sadly, one of the two mares is there because some evil-minded person shot her with an arrow. She is no longer able to survive in the wild.

I just cannot comprehend a human being doing something like that. And it not the only time the one of the wild horses has been injured, even killed, at the hands of some violent and evil person. There are reports of horses being run down and hit by vehicles on the beach and even shot by gunfire. Others have become sick or died from eating trash or inappropriate food left out by beach visitors. The wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs, historically known as Banker Ponies, have survived four hundred years on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. They have made it through hurricanes and very harsh living conditions, but it is feared human beings and the rabid development of the Outer Banks will be their undoing.

The two horses, both fillies, at Island Farm, are named Gracie and Bow. You can see them as you drive to Manteo on highway 64, in a pasture where an antique windmill has been erected. It is directly across the road from the Island Farm entrance. It cost $6 per person the tour the farm and is well worth the price. You can spend as much time as you like, and there are always new demonstrations and different things to see.

To learn more about the Corolla Wild Horses go to

To learn more about Island Farm go to