LINDLEY, N.Y. — With a grand champion steer and the beginnings of a beef herd to her name, Olivia Terwilliger has achieved a lot for someone who’s about to turn 7.
Terwilliger, a 4-H Cloverbud, became one of the youngest champion steer owners in the history of the Chemung County Fair last year.
Olivia’s parents, Todd and Erica Terwilliger, both have roots in farming.
Olivia is the fifth generation on the family’s 200-acre property 3 miles east of the Tioga River.
The longtime dairy’s most memorable event might be the 1984 barn fire.
“Lightning struck it while we were in the house eating breakfast just after milking. It went fast,” Todd said.
The Terwilligers, who both work off-farm jobs, got back into the cattle business relatively recently.
Erica’s parents, who are beef farmers in nearby Corning, gave Olivia one of her first cattle.
It was a heifer calf with a broken hind leg that Olivia named Penelope and nursed back to health.
“I had to feed her with a bottle four times a day. It was my job to brush her with a curry comb,” Olivia said.
She then took Penelope to the fair.
“I took her in the ring myself with Dad and tried to hold onto her, but she kept pulling me,” Olivia said.
She also showed two steers, Dax and Max, that the family bought as weanlings from Dewaine Aldrich of Bath.
“We brought them home and put them in a pen, and Dax just shook his head at me,” Olivia said. “So I sat on a bucket and read him a book.”
Todd halter broke the 450-pound steer, and Olivia learned how to show at 4-H showmanship clinics.
At the fair, Dax weighed in at 1,386 pounds.
Her grand champion sold to Golden Age Cheese of Woodhall.
With some of her winnings, Olivia bought her first registered Angus cow and two steers, which she named Ferdinand and Guapo.
“Guapo means handsome,” Olivia said as she fed her animals their evening grain ration.
As they build up their operation, the Terwilligers plan to build their herd up to 40 registered Angus and let Olivia have her own herd.
She already has her own herd registry in the Junior Angus Association and is a member of the New York Junior Beef Producers Association.