May 262016
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Several Subordinate Granges in Maine are using the websites available from National Grange. At the risk of creating MEGO (“My Eyes Glaze Over”) in the non-technical, I’ll explain that these sites are actually set up as sub-domains of the National Grange website. You can recognize that because the URL begins with the National Grange URL and looks like this: name#.

These sites use the same software (WordPress) as the Maine State Grange site. (The Maine State Grange site is not part of the National Grange system–it is self-hosted.) That means I can occasionally help with “how to” questions, but ultimately, National Grange controls these sites.

Apparently, for some period of time yesterday, these local Grange sites were “down” and visitors received an error message. I was contacted, but because of my teaching schedule, I was unable to respond for 24 hours. Fortunately, in the interim, the problem was apparently resolved as the site in question was “up” this morning.

While I’m always willing to help and support, when these sites go down the only thing I can do is the same thing you can do if your site goes down: contact Stephanie Wilkins at National Grange (swilkinsatnationalgrangedotorg  (swilkinsatnationalgrangedotorg)  ). Please copy me so I know the problem has been reported–if your site is affected it’s very likely others are as well.

By the way, if your Grange is maintaining a site or an official Facebook Page, please send me the link/address. There is a section on the Maine State Grange website where these are listed–but only if you are keeping your site or page current and updated. An out-of-date site or page is worse than not having any–it’s the equivalent of announcing you’re out of business!

May 262016

New Lecturer’s Program in a Box brings us back to Ag Roots

The second in the series of ready-made Lecturer’s Programs to be released focuses on strawberries: their production, anatomy, diseases and research. This allows Granges who wish to put this program on to tap into the roots of our Order. The PowerPoint is available if you wish to use it, but the PDF that includes the same material can also be used to put on the program. If you are unable to show the slides with pictures of the diseases and plant anatomy, you may wish to print a few copies of the PDF or some of the specific pages with these pictures to hand out to your members.

This program includes a PowerPoint or PDF version with notes for the Lecturer to use during the presentation. There is also a handout that further details some of the information in the program and recipes for distribution.

This program was developed by Annie Montes, a graduate student in Plant Pathology/Plant Biology at the University of Maryland.

Should you use a program created and distributed by the National Lecturer and create additional resources or materials, you can send or email them to me and we will include them on the web page dedicated to Lecturer’s programs. To download the programs and content materials, and to find other programs as they are released, please visit

For more valuable news and information, please join the National Grange Mailing List.

May 242016

by Rick Grotton

Greetings All! Thank you to Steven Haycock, Norma Meserve  and Sherry Harriman for joining me in attending the Tri-State Leadership/Membership Conference last Saturday in Laconia, NH. Joe Stefanoni, National Membership/Leadership Director provided an excellent two part program on membership and leadership.  The presentation will be available online soon. It was great to visit with brothers and sisters from New Hampshire and Vermont.

Are you doing Spring cleaning? Remember to bring some goodies to sell for yourself or your Grange or donate to the State Grange Fundraising Committee on June 25 beginning at 9am at Headquarters in Augusta. Tables are $20.00 apiece should you want to sell on your own. Bring some friends and also do a tour through the State Grange Headquarters Building. If you have never been to Headquarters, please come visit  at 146 State Street and enjoy the day with us.

Remember for those who have taken in new members, make them feel welcome, answer their questions and explain to them the significance, the meanings and traditions of our great organization. Keep them active and have fun!!!! A happy Grange is a prosperous Grange!

May 232016

pencil_drawing_black_check_markby Christine Hebert,
Junior Director

Here’s a remind that Junior Camp is June 24 (optional), 25 and 26. Information packets were mailed to Granges earlier this month. Please send your paperwork back to me along with your registration and fee by June 10. If you need a registration form or additional information, let me know!

May 222016

Folks came from far and wide to join Valley Grange’s Community Night Celebration–an annual event that celebrates community and recognizes a Community Citizen of the Year. This year the award went to Sherry French of Guilford for her work throughout the area. Sherry’s projects are many, ranging from supporting Pine Tree Hospice to coordinating fundraising events for a number of causes, to answering children’s letters to Santa Claus. Friends and coworkers testified to the unselfish work Sherry does and to the value of her friendship. This year’s event took on an unusual twist in that Sherry’s husband Jim received the Grange’s Award several years ago, so following Sherry’s honor a special certificate was presented to the “Dynamic Duo.”

The evening’s program was based on “Just Five Minutes” with Lecturer Walter Boomsma pointing out the dollar value of volunteering for just five minutes per day. “If everyone between the ages of 20 and 80 in Piscataquis County did that, it would equate to 188 people working full time for our communities–an average of ten per town and an equivalent payroll of over six and a half million dollars.” But, Boomsma noted, “the real value comes from the impact we can have on others lives.” Every attendee received at least two lollipops, with the instruction they were to give one to someone who they wanted to recognize as “creating an important moment in their lives.”

Additional recognition during the event went to Grange members celebrating anniversaries. Secretary Mary Annis reported on the recent celebration for Opal Bennett, an 80 year member and then presented her husband Jim with his 25 year certificate joking, “It pales by comparison.”

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May 202016
On Saturday, May 14, members of Mill Stream Grange in Vienna helped Gordon Webber (pictured on right) in placing American flags on the graves of U.S. veterans in the Franklin Cemetery on Tower Road.  Over 70 flags were placed, some dating back to the Civil War. This is the second year that the Grange has helped with the flags as one of their community service projects.

On Saturday, May 14, members of Mill Stream Grange in Vienna helped Gordon Webber (pictured on right) in placing American flags on the graves of U.S. veterans in the Franklin Cemetery on Tower Road. Over 70 flags were placed, some graves dating back to the Civil War. This is the second year that the Grange has helped with the flags as one of their community service projects.

May 192016

A team of members recently visited Hibbard’s Assisted Living Facility in Dover Foxcroft where they honored member Opal Bennett for her 80 years as a member. The team included Master Jim Annis, Secretary Mary Annis, Chaplain Janice Boomsma, and Lecturer Walter Boomsma. Opal was joined by a number of her friends and several family members. Master Jim entertained the group with several stories demonstrating that the Grange is still very active and thanked Opal for her many years of membership. The Hibbard’s Staff served refreshments and a good time was had by all!

May 162016

Grange StoreThe Grange Store is OVERLOADED with songbooks and you know what that means?

Members benefit from deep discounts!

All four Grange Songbooks are now on sale for $2.50 each or $2 each for two or more. (Plus shipping and handling.)

Shop ’til you drop! 

May 162016

by Rick Grotton, Maine State Grange Master

Many thanks again to all involved in making the degree day at Manchester Grange Sunday successful and fun. There were 18 candidates from all over the state who either viewed or took their degrees . Thank you to Manchester for a great lunch!

May 162016

HeatherBy Heather Retberg

Everywhere I look this week, or listen this week, there are potent signs of the strong urges of springtime.  We are so close to having all the animals turned out of the barn and onto pasture and into the woods again that every day before we are completely there, the strain in that direction is palpable everywhere on the farm.  In another week, we will likely have the mobile hen coop and fencing ready to transfer the hens from their stationary winter quarters to their house on wheels to be freewheeling pasture hens again.  In the meantime, we’ve been letting them out of the coop in the daytime to forage and mess about in the barnyard and dooryard.  Now, you may know there are always a precious few, usually Aruaucanas, that resist staying with the rest of the flock, those who “walk alone”, march to the beat of a different drummer, roost on their own perch, if you know what I mean. I just don’t think that the ‘Little Red Hen’ was arbitrarily chosen for a character lesson in persistence despite odds.  Too many such little red hens have passed through our farm yard.

So, at day’s end, while most hens have a strong homing urge to return to the coop, there is one, sometimes there are two, who just… don’t.  The only trouble with that is that they also usually prefer to lay their eggs elsewhere as well, like the hay loft or behind unreachable partitions of wood and wall, never to be gathered again.  When one such little red hen was found, not in the coop with the other hens at the beginning of one day last week, but, rather, in the main barn, we knew we had one of “those who walk alone” on our hands again.  Sure enough, when we unloaded hay into the loft on Monday morning, there was a round mound of hay turned into a nest with one tidy egg in its center.  While we like to encourage animals to express their ‘animalness’ so much as possible, we also like to collect eggs all in one place, even in the springtime.  This hen was hopping up the steep stairs to get to the loft and lay her egg.  Oh, what strong spring urges!  Phil closed off the opening at the top of the stairs to encourage her back to the desired nest boxes.  One morning as I shoveled out the cows, I just could not figure out why that hen was making such an upset clatter until Phil told me what had happened. Alas, not all spring urges can be gratified.

This little red hen’s day stood in such strong contrast to the dairy cows who had recently left the barn that very morning for green pastures once again.  As many of you know, spring turn out is my favorite day of the year on the farm, when the cows embody all the long held, pent-up close restraint of winter ceding to the wild, uninhibited abandon of crazed spring cavorting when they are released from their winter quarters in the barn onto pasture to graze once more.

It is a short lived sight that happens but once a year, those urges ripe and ready for release.  The broad, heavy, usually subdued and quite dignified matrons all behave like young heifers again, kicking up their heels, running, jumping like spring lambs, pawing at the soil like bulls and setting their pendulous, substantial udders swinging like you don’t otherwise ever see.  It’s simply, joyfully fantastic.  It marks an end to the long chore of shoveling, to bought hay, to loading manure into tractor bucket and the beginning again of long, cool walks in misty morning light and in the waning sunlight of early evening bringing the cows back and forth from the fields to the barn for milking.  It is not all without stress, that unbridled joy.

Soon after the pawing and cavorting ends, the need to test the herd hierarchy is immediate.  Younger cows lower their heads and challenge the older ones or the higher ranked ones and small battles ensue to maintain position or oust an established matriarch.  Once the order has been tried and tested, the herd gets onto settled grazing again.  New habits are learned over the next few days walking up to the barn and back to the field and not toward the highway.  The young lead the old and then look back for direction until they’ve learned the routine.  It is learned in a few short days and it makes our job easier.  But, those first moments of release, of joy, of testing the ground beneath their feet and challenging the established order are moments to drink up and absorb to last for another whole year of mist and fog and brightness and heat and cold and wet and dry.  It is a time like none other.

The fruit trees are budding out, the raspberry canes are sending forth leaves, the trillium in the woods is blossoming its deep velvety scarlet quietly as forsythia and narcissus flash yellow everywhere.

The beef cows, still awaiting their spring paddocks bellow their impatient spring urges, until their feet are on green grass once again.

I wish you patience for the wait and joy in the release of spring as its strong urges manifest in field and woods, each in its own time.


Heather and Phil Retberg together with their three children run Quill’s End Farm, a 105-acre property in Penobscot that they bought in 2004. They use rotational grazing on their fifteen open acres and are renovating thirty more acres from woods to pasture to increase grazing for their pigs, grass-fed cattle, lambs, laying hens, and goats. Heather is Master of Halcyon Grange #345 and writes a newsletter for their farm’s buying clubs for farmers in her area and has generously given us permission to share some of her columns with Grangers throughout the state.

Grange members are invited to submit guest columns to Views from the Farm for consideration by emailing the webmaster. Please note that the views and opinions expressed in contributed articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Grange.