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April 26, 2013
Story & Slide show: A warm welcome after a cold start
A small brown calf with a slightly turned-up nose got her spindly legs running for the first time at the Paard Hill barn last Thursday.
Her name is Cornelia and she was found, wet and shivering, in the early hours of Monday, January 31. Her mother, Petunia, the smallest of the small herd of miniature cows raised by Peder Larsen and now residing at Sylvester Manor, was not up to the task of nursing her — her teats are just 8 inches off the ground.
No one was expecting Petunia to give birth Sunday night. “We thought we had another month,” Bennett Konesni, steward of the Manor, explained while watching Cornelia sprint around the barn. Gunnar Wissemann of the manor staff found the calf Monday morning, out in the cold, alone. “Petunia didn’t really know what to do,” Mr. Konesni continued. “Pete saved the day.”
Mr. Larsen took the 34-pound calf to a nearby veterinarian, who successfully fed her through a tube. Soon the Larsens were able to feed her from a bottle and by Thursday, she was ready to get out of the Larsens’ kitchen and get some exercise.
With the winter’s snow too soft and deep to navigate, she couldn’t run outside. So Mr. Larsen and his wife Meg took the calf to Paard Hill to run on the dirt floor of the equestrian center’s barn.
And run she did, taking laps with Meg, Pete and Bennett, and stopping to greet Paard Hill trainer Mary Anderson.
After her run, Cornelia was transported to the Costello dairy barn in Greenport, where she will be cared for and eventually nursed by an expectant cow. It’s hoped that cow will raise her own calf and Cornelia as twins. Once she’s weaned, it’s back home to Shelter Island for Cornelia.
The calf’s namesake is Cornelia Horsford, who was the Lady of the Manor into her 80s. During that period, cows at the homestead were many, and were celebrated each spring with a ceremonial “Baptism of the Calves,” shown in the photo above. They made enough milk to bottle — Mr. Konesni found an old bottle in the barn dating back to the early 1900s embossed with “Sylvester Manor Farm.”
Those days may return as another three cows in the herd are expecting. If all goes well, the cows could provide as much as 20 gallons of milk per day.
Mr. Konesni is looking into pasteurization equipment and “how best to bring in revenues” from the cows. This spring, the cows will graze on acreage preserved by the Town of Shelter Island and Suffolk County through the purchase of development rights.