Happy Year of the Horse!

yearofthehorseJanuary 27th marked the start of the Year of the Horse in the Chinese calendar, and the Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine in Pilot, Virginia is honoring the gifts of the horse this year by forging a deeper connection to the land and helping us reclaim our natural strength and vitality.

Tucked into the forest near the Floyd/Montgomery county line, the Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine, or BRCCM, is a non-profit center that offers comprehensive and complementary health care to the surrounding community. The main building is awash with natural lighting and gentle, calming energy. Four clinical care rooms with hardwood floors and high ceilings look out onto pastures and woods behind the center.

As horses peacefully nibble the grass, their hooves link their hearts to the land. This year BRCCM is deepening that vital connection by expanding their Chinese medicinal herb production program. Developing economic opportunities for regional farmers is the goal of the program as well as supplying reliably sourced high-quality herbs for Chinese medicines for regional and national distribution. On March 15th and 16th, just in time for spring planting, leading Chinese medicine herbalist and grower Jean Giblette will host workshops for local farmers and others interested in learning about the medical benefits and growing needs of these herbs.

Horses run hard, but they know when to rest. If only we could follow their lead! In our manic world, we often overextend our capacity and lose our sense of place on earth, draining our strength and vitality. BRCCM helps replenish our natural balance by offering classes in grounding andstrengthening mind/body practices such as internal martial arts for health including taiji, qigong, plus yoga and playshops.

People of all ages travel from near and far to explore alternative approaches to issues such as chronic conditions, addiction, injuries, and aging. BRCCM’s highly trained practitioners work with each individual to support an effective personal path to healing, offering a wide range of therapeutic options such as acupuncture, herbs, and bodywork including Tuina and Thai massage. This year the center is also offering classes and practitioner continuing education courses in fermenting foods, holistic animal companion care, Chinese food therapy, and pre- and post-natal wellness.

Just as horses band together, so the staff and supporters of The Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine work as one to strengthen their community. The non-profit center relies on financial donations to sustain its services, as well as volunteers who help with tasks ranging from stacking firewood to repairing computers. The center offers low-cost acupuncture clinics and donation-funded subsidized care so that quality health care is available for everyone. In this Year of the Horse, let’s remember that each step toward individual wholeness helps create a more resilient, more supportive community for all.

For more information about holistic health services, classes and workshops, the medicinal herb growing program, and other upcoming opportunities, check out the BRCCM website (www.brccm.org) or Facebook page (Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine).


Unique breed of Suffolks Draft Horses munch down in Floyd Virginia

If you enjoy the scenery of a country drive in Floyd County, you’ll sure count it a treat to view the White Oak Grove area of Floyd.

The panoramas are breathtaking during any season of the year, and besides being a loop of the Virginia Mountain Birding and Wildlife Trail, it is also home to Hope and Grace Lynn, two Suffolk draft horses owned by Roger and Cathy Thompson of Red Rooster Farm.

We halted the vehicle and approached Roger as he was allowing the girls to munch down on some grass, and he shared with us a few tidbits while we wondered over the beauty of these very large girls, and stroked them, mane and neck.

“They’re purebred and registered, only a few of their kind in Floyd County,” two of a draft breed which is one of the least numerous in the U.S. Indeed, they were fine specimens, notable even with the American Suffolk Horse Association. I viewed photos of Glenhaven Hope and Grace Lynn Haven from when they were younger on the ASHA website, www.suffolkpunch.com.

Roger told about the uniqueness of the breed, how the Suffolks originated in eastern England, and how useful they were for draft and farm use. He utilizes Hope and Grace Lynn in the same way the old English farmers did, allowing their power to work and to pull, to help tend to his land.  They seem to enjoy their work, and they’re docile and friendly with him.

Their beautiful chestnut color is the single color of the breed, and the thickness and weight of these horses is massive. Roger also pointed out the round and the heftiness of the “behind”, which is a desirable quality of the Suffolk. Despite their heavy build, he told us that they don’t eat so much.

Roger mentioned that horses were brought to the U.S. by JC Penney, which is now a nationwide chain of stores that sells a variety of products (nearest location is at New River Valley Mall, Christiansburg) but was once a farm store. James Cash Penney strongly believed that stores should be run with honesty and a deep respect for the customer, the way many of the businesses in Floyd are founded. He was also born in a farming community, and his first store was called The Golden Rule.

Story by: Dee Wallace