Our estate manager, Corinne Bowman, always has quite a bit on her plate. In addition to tending to our gardens, decking our exteriors at the holidays, and dozens of other tasks, she also provides comfort to the creatures that live here.
We’ve always had animals on our 65-acre property in Aurora, New York, which was once a working dairy farm. There are more than 30 animals living here now, including cattle, sheep, chickens, geese, a peacock, and a barn cat. Caring for them is a daily commitment that becomes a little more challenging during our Upstate New York winters.
But Corinne, who’s been our estate manager for nearly five years, is ready and willing to handle just about anything that Mother Nature can dish out. To cope with Winter Storm Harper in mid-January, she spent much of the weekend on site to ensure that the animals had access to fresh water.
Most of the animals are housed in or near our famed Chicken Palace, which is divided into three sections. Each area has an opening to the outdoors, so the animals can come and go from the palace and into the enclosed yard that surrounds it. To keep things extra warm and cozy, Corinne added more straw for bedding.
During the storm, the animals stayed mostly indoors, no doubt sensing the unusual conditions outside. Even the Scottish Highland cattle were inside in a three-sided shelter, a change from their usual spot outside in a back pasture dubbed Hitchcock Field by Rebecca Proctor, our creative director and chief brand officer. (And yes, the field inspired the name of our Hitchcock Field ceramics.)
Says Corinne of the cattle’s retreat, “Usually, they’re the happiest in the winter, loving all the snow, cold, and yuck. But even they hunkered down. It was like they thought, ‘This is a little nuts.’”
Harper left us with about 18 inches of snow, but we’re happy to report that all the animals came through the storm just fine, and we’re grateful to Corinne for her dedication. But, honestly, her level of commitment doesn’t surprise us. We know how much she loves the animals. She’s named each one and treats them like they’re part of the MacKenzie-Childs family.
Says Corinne, “They’re my kids. They all have personalities, and they’re all a little different in how they respond to me. I love them all.”