Jan 192018

The January issue of the Patrons Chain National Grange Newsletter is now available! It contains stories like;

  • Get ready to share ‘Grange Way’ in 2018
  • Get ready for Grange Month!
  • Have you missed us? Special double issue to arrive in mail soon
  • Youth Focus: Community Service Award
  • Make plans to attend a region conference
  • Trump, Purdue make rural broadband a priority
  • Program possibilities abound from Lecturer
  • Legislative Fly-In 2018
  • Grange Month Community Citizen and Public Service Awards
  • 2018 Subordinate Grange Survey
  • Proclaim Grange’s great Legacy in 2018!
  • Fundraiser: Grange Foundation challenge coins
  • 2018 Quilt Block Contest
  • 2018 National Grange Photography Showcase
  • 2018 Evening of Excellence participants guidelines
  • National Grange Building Fund pledge form
  • 1 in 1,000 Club of the Grange Foundation

Read the complete issue (and back issues if you’d like!) on the National Grange Website. (This link is always available on the Program Books and Information Page.)

Grange Month information is available in this issue!

Jan 182018

Danville Junction Grange #65 has completed their Dictionary Project for this year!  We were able to distribute 360 dictionaries, which included five different schools in Auburn and New Gloucester. During our many years of participating in this project, our Grange has distributed over two thousand dictionaries, something of which we are very proud!

A special fund to purchase dictionaries has been established by Danville Junction Grange.  Money is raised for this fund in many ways.  We sell Rada knives and frozen chicken pies at our suppers and sales. Some money is donated by standing committees or individuals.  We also have received community service grants from the Maine State Grange.

The photo shows a group of students from one of our schools inspecting their new dictionaries.  While this project is very worthwhile, we Grangers, who deliver the dictionaries, gain so much enjoyment from feeling the excitement when we meet the students!  They are so excited and enthusiastic!  It is fun to watch their faces as they discover the sections on sign language, planets, presidents, and, of course, the page which has the longest word in the dictionary!  We feel that this is a very worthwhile project, and one which we can continue for many years to come.

Jan 162018

Short messages from your Communications Department

We’ve just added a link to another subordinate/community Grange Facebook Page. Welcome, New Sharon Grange!

This might be a good opportunity to point out an “easy peasy” way to share Grange Information. I hope those who are responsible for Grange Facebook Pages also subscribe to the MSG Website! At the bottom of every post, you’ll find several social media icons. If you click the Facebook one, a window will open allowing you to share the post. You’ll need to change the setting at the top of that window from your timeline to the page you are responsible for. (You are also welcome to share it to your personal timeline, of course!) If I’m counting correctly, it’s about three mouse clicks to share the post. Those clicks might count as participation in the Communication Department’s “Plus Two” initiative–a focus on what we are doing right in the Grange.

Also as a reminder, I do check Facebook Pages created for subordinate/community Granges from time to time. If a page is not being kept current, I remove the link on the MSG website so we’re not doing the equivalent of sending people to a closed store! The same is true of websites. (National Grange Policy regarding websites and social media is included in the Communications Handbook.)

Some other recent additions to the site include

  • the National Grange Handout of twenty tips to retain members (National Grange Section)
  • an updated (every month) wishlist of the Veteran’s Administration (Community Service Section)
  • the January Bulletin (Communications Resources Section)

All this and more can be found on the “Program Books and Information Page.”

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Jan 152018


Regular followers will remember that last month’s column reflected on the truth, “We get the Christmas we deserve.” As I paged through the manual for inspiration for this month’s, it was perhaps fate that directed me to the Fourth Degree where the secretary addresses the candidates. After reminding them of the importance of punctuality, the secretary points out “there is work for all,” and adds “those reap the most abundant harvest of Grange benefits [are those] who contribute most liberally of their own time and talent.”

We might well wonder if our secretary is suggesting “We get the Grange we deserve.” The challenge is reminiscent of the analogy of sowing and reaping. If we sow our time and talent liberally in our Grange, we shall harvest abundantly. That could be a sobering thought for anyone who is questioning or unhappy with what the or she is “getting out” of membership. That unhappy member may be getting the Grange he or she deserves.

However, in fairness, we should also consider the accuracy of the statement, “There is work for all.” Is there? There’s got to be more going on than just meetings in order for there to be work for all.

Assuming there is work to do, it’s commonly accepted that one good membership retention technique is to get and keep new members involved. I’d like to go one further.

There’s an old joke about the pig and the hen walking down the road together. The topic of breakfast (bacon and eggs) comes up. The pig points out that all that’s required of the hen is involvement. For the pig, commitment is required.

The founders of the Grange recognized the importance of purpose and demonstrated insight into how to build an effective organization. It’s hard to get people involved in purposelessness. It’s impossible to gain commitment without purpose. With clear purpose, it should become equally clear that there is work for everyone. If there is no purpose, then there is no work.  It would be like asking people to show up to weed a garden where nothing has been planted!

Another insight of our founders was building a “grassroots” organization. While the umbrella is important, each Subordinate/Community Grange gets to create their own image–an opportunity that does encourage commitment. Personally, I believe the diversity in our Order is one of our biggest strengths. We can say with confidence, “There is work for all,” because our organization is built to accommodate different passions. We’re not just for farmers. Just look at a committee list and consider the opportunities ranging from community service, healthy living, women’s activities… to children/juniors… legislative matters… and we’re not really limited to those. There are several Granges in Maine that have theatre companies. There can be engaging and rewarding work for all in any Grange.

The Grange Way: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, freedom; in all things charity.


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Any degree or ritual quotations are from the forty-sixth edition of the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual. The views and opinions expressed in “Exploring Traditions” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official doctrine and policy of the Grange.

Jan 152018


Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.
― Søren Kierkegaard

January can be a woeful reflective time, maybe because of storms, because of the changing of a year from one to the next, or because it is dark still for a long while and one gets to ruminating some in the dark. It’s also a time here when we feel the urge to plan our farm year, to assess what needs changing, to go forward learning from the years past.  It is increasingly a time for us when we wonder sometimes aloud and sometimes to each other if we should keep on doing this. In January’s first cold, unpredictable weeks, there are complications caused by the cold. Moving all the critters into the barn causes complications, too. In closer quarters, sometimes injuries happen, or ailments from the boredom of one animal or another.  Rarely do the chores that ‘should’ be routine, go that way. Something is always up, a cow that needs extra tending, a calf that is getting too much unwanted attention from others, a goat that is weakened by the cold. We adjust to single digits, then are disoriented when the pond floods in 50+ degree weather before it plunges back. Winter is hard. It is more expensive time and sales decrease. We just can’t see from here how it will go forward, sustainably. The extremes are simply hard to weather and disorienting, and we’re not sure if we should keep encouraging each other forward, or just figure out something else.

But maybe Mr. Kierkegaard is right, maybe life can better be understood by looking backwards, even while we must keep living forwards. Well, it was during the first days of January in 2005, the year Carolyn was born, that the farmhouse at Quill’s End was moved from its old foundation next to the highway to its new foundation near the woods. Before the house moved, the former guest artist’s studio and former gift shop ‘Goods in the Woods’ from Haystack, was cut in two, moved over the Deer Isle bridge and put in place at the farm. That was quite a feat. It had to be loaded, then unloaded, then loaded again onto the trailer before it was stable enough for the trip.  The two pieces got ‘parked’ in the opposite position of how they needed to be eventually. That problem got figured out, sorted into the right position, righted, roofed, and has been a practical home for chickens in the winter for years, was a shop for a while, and now houses the goats and chickens. It worked out alright.  Now, the farmhouse moving was a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. The house mover’s truck had a bumper sticker that said, ‘Save a tree. Move a house’. I was seven months pregnant, we had 3 days with the house mover, the hard frozen driveway thawed the second day making the house transit more precarious, there were so many, many moving pieces with a two-year-old, a six-year-old, and a 150+-year-old house to transport. That was none too easy either. It was fascinating and exciting, though.  There were fires burning throughout the process as parts of the demolition and slash from the new site were burned.  It was all a little beyond the imagination. Once the house was in place on the new foundation, the fires lessened, we ate marshmallows with our cold and tired boys before heading home.   Looking backwards does help to keep living forwards. We did it then and, probably, thirteen years later, can make it work now, too.

When winter presses hard on our small farm and our determination wears a little thin, the larger doings of the world can weigh heavy, too. As Martin Luther King Jr. is commemorated, and looking backwards points us to a history that feels very current, very near, his words are also ones to take to heart, to action to living forwards: “Take the first step in faith, you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Take one step at a time, in faith, when you can’t see the whole crystal staircase, understanding backwards and living forwards.


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. Visit the Quill’s End Farm Facebook Page for more information.

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.

Jan 152018

A mug WB

“You always get more of what you focus on!

 This fundamental management principle seems to have “popped up” a lot recently. The late Rita Pierson, a well-known educator in her presentation “Every Kid Needs a Champion” tells the story of a young fellow who took a math quiz. Out of twenty questions, he got eighteen wrong. At the top of his paper, she wrote “Plus Two” and drew a smiley face. When he received his paper, he approached her desk, the dialog went something like this:

“Ms. Pierson, is this an ‘F’?”


“Then why’d you write plus two and draw a smiley face?!”

“Because you got two right! You didn’t miss ‘em all! You are on the way! And won’t you do better next time…”

 He left the conversation encouraged and enthused, focused on the “two right” and the fact that his teacher had confidence in him. She points out that “eighteen wrong sucks the life out of you… plus two says “I ain’t all bad.’”

So how does this apply to communication? I think in two ways: what we talk about and how we talk about it? Eleanor Roosevelt said, “”Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Obviously, there are times when each of those things bears conversation—but what is our focus? To apply this to our Grange, what are we discussing during our potluck suppers and meetings? I was at a supper once where two or three people dominated the conversation with their personal misfortunes and everything that was wrong with the organization, including the fact they weren’t getting new members. “Nobody has time… people aren’t interested in… it’s the Internet!” With that focus, will they? “Eighteen wrong sucks the life out of you.”

Some years ago when I was doing organizational consulting, I led a project team challenged to increase employee retention at a client company. People would work one day and quit. The company was actually having trouble maintaining production because they were worried about how many employees wouldn’t show up. They proudly displayed and shared all of the steps they had taken to resolve the problem including “exit interviews” with employees who quit. “Why are you leaving?” It was interesting data, but “You get more of what you focus on!” So we turned things upside down. One of our first recommendations was that we interview employees who had been with the company and ask what kept them there. We did some things that at first seemed crazy, but we knew we had to change the focus. We outlawed talking about absenteeism and posted the number present in the cafeteria every morning–not the number absent. We required supervisors to stand by the door at the end of the day and say goodnight to their employees and “see you tomorrow.” These are just a few examples. It worked.

Much like Ms. Pierson, if we’re going to talk about that quiz (the what), let’s focus on what was right (the how). There’s a big difference between trying to get less wrong and trying to get more right. If we’re going to talk about attendance, let’s focus on how many are present. If we’re going to talk about our Grange, let’s talk about the good stuff.

I’m challenging members to get behind a “Plus Two” drive which means we focus on what we’re doing right – no matter how insignificant it might seem to us—and submit reports and photos to the website. We have a few members (Granges) who do so dependably – our “Plus Two.” (I haven’t counted, but it’s more than two!) If you have a well-attended public supper, get somebody to snap a photo and submit it to the site. If your Grange does a community service project, tell us about it. If you get a repair done to your hall, share the news! When you take in new members, take a photo of them and send their names. If you need some help with ideas or writing, let me know!

The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she’s done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.

Rita Pierson’s presentation is a TED Talk … I consider it a “must see” for teachers, parents–anyone who works with children! But it has application in all of life. You can watch the entire presentation on my website. It’s potentially life-changing and takes less than eight minutes!

Jan 142018

Greetings and Happy New Year! From the fundraising committee of the Maine State Grange.

Many thanks for all of your help in making last year a very successful one for us and for you, as we are contributing to the future of the Maine State Grange.

Another Grange year has begun and we are busy making plans and talking over ideas for this year’s fundraisers. Our first event of the year will be the annual variety show, which has become more popular each year. The show will be held at Topsham Grange #37, 47 Pleasant Street, Topsham on Sunday, April 29, 2018, at 3:00 pm (note the change in the day of the week and the time). As always, we are looking for family-friendly acts to participate at this event. Acts in the past have included musical numbers, humorous stories, jokes, skits and singing (including a performance by the Grange Singers!). This year we are hoping to include some other acts, such as dancing (tap, clogging etc.). So, if you know someone in your area who would like to showcase their talents, please let us know. Participants do not have to be Grange members and will have approximately five minutes to perform. For more information contact me at 998-2586 or email me.

If you have any fundraising ideas you’d like to share please send them to a committee member. On-going items for sale include Grange cookbooks ($5 each or two or more $4 each), Agricultural Pride t-shirts ($12 each), Grange pens; with flashlight and stylus! ($1 each) and Grange magnets ($3 each).

Until next month, stay warm and safe!

Jan 132018


Are you sick of winter yet? With the frigid temperatures and snow keeping many of us indoors this would be the perfect time to work on contest entries. What better way to while away a cold afternoon but to read a book or write a poem or story? To enter the book reading contest all you have to do is keep track of the number of books you read and the number of pages. For those of you who like to write just put the pen to paper and let the words flow. If you’re not sure about the categories for the writing contest ask you Lecturer or look up the rules in Lecturer’s section of program books and information on the Maine Grange website.

2017 – 2018 Lecturer’s Program Guide,

Jan 132018

Hello everyone and Happy New Year. I have been working on reviewing, reviving, and rewriting some Guidelines for Grange Procedure. I have mailed this information packet out to the Subordinate and Pomona Masters this week. Please let me know, if you as Master, did not get it. I hope each of you will read through it and use it in your meetings. I hope you will find it helpful. If you have any comments or questions, please drop me a line. This is the general paperwork I shared with the Officers and Deputies at our meetings, but more detailed.

In these Guidelines you will find the following information and instructions:
• Suggestions and Instructions for Grange Procedure
• Information/instructions (short paragraphs) for a regular meeting
• Procedure / Opening in Full Form (Opening Bible, Taking the Word and Report; Presentation of the Flag; Presenting Applications or bill from Secretary to Master; Closing the Bible; Retiring the Flag; Presenting Honored Guests; Proper Order for Introducing Honored Guests)
• Procedure / Open Meeting — Opening and Closing the Grange
• Balloting Procedure for Applications
• Handling Motions and Voting Procedure
• Proper Language/Procedure Returning from Recess
• Procedure for Handling Grange Funds
• Samples: Secretary’s & Treasurer’s Receipts and Improved Order Book
• How Grange Policy is developed: It all begins in the Local Grange — Writing Resolutions, Resolutions becomes policy — How to handle resolutions (2 pages)
• Guidelines for Grange Loan Program
• Setting Goals and Five (5) Step Problem Solver
• Successful Granges are Led by People, Responsibilities of a Leader
• Considerations for Grange Leaders
• 20 Tips for Bolstering Membership Retention
• Maine State Grange Leadership Directory
• Order Form: Membership Recognition Seals & Certificates

Additional information: Deputies Instruction/Visitation Report for Grange Procedure; Basic Beginning Steps for Organizing or Reorganizing A Grange; Consolidation of Subordinate Granges; Procedure for Surrender of Charter; Suspension or Revocation of Charters; Sale, Encumbrance or Transfer of Real Property of Subordinate or Pomona Granges; Property of Granges Which Surrender Their Charter or Whose Charter Has Been Revoked; other material is available. A list of new items in the 2013 version of the Subordinate Grange Manual is included.