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Independent Thoughts: Harriet the heifer gives birth; Phipps receives military honor

by | Feb 21, 2023 | Featured, Featured: Features

Harriet is a heifer no more.

As it turns out, the cow who made news last year after escaping from a slaughterhouse was pregnant as she lived life on the run up and down Ash Street.

No one was more surprised than the Varner family, who took in Harriet in late November after she wandered onto their small Ash Street farm.

Because Harriet was so underweight following her journey to freedom, the Varners did not anticipate another addition to the family.

“About two weeks ago she started to show an udder, and I saw it,” Curt Varner shared on Feb. 14, five days after Harriet gave birth. “So, I should have known. But because she was so thin, we didn’t conceive that she could have been pregnant.”

A veterinarian who visited only weeks earlier also didn’t catch on to the situation.

Eventually, Curt and his wife, Eve, started to suspect something was up. On Feb. 7, Harriet backed up into the pasture, and Eve sensed it was time.

“I was out on the tractor doing something with the other cows and Eve called out to me,” Curt recalled. “I looked over, and Harriet had her calf walking beside her, cleaning her off.”

The new cow is called Poppy.

“She’s just really doughy and fresh-eyed and just sort of popped out,” Eve explained. “There isn’t much more to the name than that.”

Harriet only recently had been moved out of the pen she had been sharing with the Varners’ sheep and joined the farm’s four other cows.

After the birth, Harriet and her calf were relocated into a small pen so they could have some privacy.

“Harriet’s being an amazing mom,” Eve said. “We worried, would she connect, would she be a good mom? We were worried that we would have to intervene. But she’s a great mom. She’s super protective.”

The other cows have been supportive as well, licking Poppy through the fence as she sniffs them.

“The other night she was out with them running around,” Eve said. “But we’re worried that she’ll jump through the fence [that borders the property], so we keep her in the small pen.”

What the future holds is anyone’s guess. The Varners already were stretched thin before adopting Harriet. Now they have a sixth cow on their hands.

“We’re really pressured on the space here,” Curt said. “We’re going to play it by ear and see how things go.”

Phipps gets pinned

World War II veteran Russ Phipps was honored Feb. 14 with a military pinning ceremony at his Winter Street home.

“Today with gratitude may we recognize and honor veteran Russell Phipps for your military service in the United States Army,” said Michelle Graham, a hospice liaison who led the ceremony. “You gave your all when you were called upon to serve and protect our country. We pray that you will be blessed for your service and struggle to selflessly preserve freedom and safety for all of us.”

The 101-year-old Phipps remained as grateful and humble as ever as he sat among family and friends.

“If I could do it over again, I would,” he said, adding that he would be at the front of the line to sign up one more time.

“If they need me, I’m available,” he said with a laugh. “I’m not in such a good position to help as much as I did, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. … I believe in doing anything I can do to preserve our great constitution. Our country is worth every bit of it. Every bit.”

Parks & Rec will miss Hart

The Parks & Recreation Department has a lot to look forward to, with a number of initiatives in the pipeline and program attendance at record numbers.

However, the department took a hit this month with the departure of Jenny Hart, one of the assistant directors for the past seven-plus years.

“We’re happy for her that she’s going back to what she loves, doing graphic design,” Parks & Rec Director Jay Guelfi said. “But it’s impossible for me to overstate the value she brought to our organization. Working with moms groups to remake the EMC playground, redoing the skate park [also at EMC Park] — although not finished yet, she got it off the ground and helped get it funded — overseeing the basketball program, she did a lot.

“During COVID, Jenny was the one who — just with her own sheer creativity and will — brought new programs to the residents that could be done remotely. She really shined during COVID when we didn’t have much to offer. She had a lot of great ideas, and took those ideas and made them real, delivering them to the public so that people could have recreational options that weren’t necessarily traditional but gave parents something to keep their kids engaged.”

Church info clarified

Two clarifications from last issue’s story on the closing of Community Covenant Church, courtesy of member Mary Overholt:

Around the time of the pandemic, the Covenant denomination was one of the fastest-growing and ethnically diverse in the country, but the Hopkinton church did not have similar success.

While Highrock provided Hopkinton a pastor and use of worship materials, the parish never officially became part of the Highrock network of churches. There was an agreement between the parties with the goal to make Hopkinton a member, but Highrock determined it was not feasible.