May 212017

The National Grange – 1616 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20006 – Phone: 1-888-4-GRANGE

In this issue:

  • Does Your Grange Have a Purpose?
  • Fly-In Attendees Meet with Success
  • Look for 150th Anniversary Mailing
  • Youth ZOOM Meetings at Your Fingertips
  • Grange Supply Store Clearance Items Announced
    Grange Legislative Round-Up
  • Grange Kudos
  • Focus on Photos
  • 151st Convention Registration Open Now
  • Good Day! May Issue Will Soon Hit Mail
  • Sew Day a Success
  • The Great American Quilt + Handicraft Expo
  • Your Story Needed to Complete Picture of Rural Broadband Need
  • Time to Promote Grange: Today, Always
  • Film Project Gets Foundation Grant
  • Cash in on Benefits
  • Grange Youth Scavenger Hunt

View this issue online!

May 202017

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119, reprinted with permission. 

On June 13, voters will cast ballots in a statewide special referendum election and Maine’s Secretary of State wishes to remind all Maine voters of an informational resource that can help them make informed decisions at the polls.  The 2017 Maine Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election is available online here.

The Citizens Guide is intended to provide as much information as possible so that voters have a convenient resource to educate themselves before casting their ballot.  The Department of the Secretary of State, in collaboration with the Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Office of Fiscal and Program review, prepared the guide as an unbiased and non-partisan review of the bond issue that voters will consider at the polls this June.

Question 1 asks: “Do you favor a $50,000,000 bond issue to provide $45,000,000 in funds for investment in research, development, and commercialization in the State to be used for infrastructure, equipment and technology upgrades that enable organizations to gain and hold market share, to increase revenues and to expand employment or preserve jobs for Maine people, to be awarded through a competitive process to Maine-based public and private entities, leveraging other funds in a one-to-one ratio and $5,000,000 in funds to create jobs and economic growth by lending to or investing in small businesses with the potential for significant growth and strong job creation?”

In the guide, voters can read the full text of the bond proposal legislation, the fiscal impact information, and an analysis of the intent and content of the bond question.  Election law also allows for citizen advocacy statements to be published supporting or opposing questions, which provides voters with those viewpoints to consider, but no public comments were filed in support or opposition to this question.

Voters can request absentee ballots online via the Secretary of State’s Web site.  Ballots can also be requested in person, by phone, or by mail from the municipal clerk. Contact information for municipal clerks is available here.

May 152017

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

You’ll definitely want to read a comment made on the May Communications Column.  (Subscribers do not get these–you’ll have to visit the site.) What an interesting outcome from the recent Bangor Daily News article regarding Granges that are making a comeback! By the way, website visitors should feel free to comment on any post–it’s really quite easy to do. Just look for the word “responses” in the upper right corner of the post (just below the headline) and click on it. Note that comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

There have been several requests posted to the “In Search of” Page… please take a look and see if you can help these folks.

Also, the MSG Bulletin May 2017 has been uploaded to the site… you don’t have to wait for a printed copy!

Keep those cards and letters coming in!

May 152017


By Walter Boomsma


The Order of Patrons of Husbandry is the only association whose teachings accompany its members in their daily pursuits. They form part of the farmer’s life. They do not call him from his work to put his mind upon any other subject, but furnish recreation in his daily duties, and by cheerful instruction, lighten and elevate his labor.

We will be hearing those words again soon during the installation of officers. What a wonderful reminder of an important aspect of our Order—it is meant to be part of our daily lives—not something reserved for meetings at the Grange Hall.

I suspect one of the reasons our founders included this observation in the installation ceremony was to remind leaders of the importance of not interfering with members’ daily labor but to furnish recreation and by cheerful instruction, lighten and elevate his daily labor.

While we tend to think of labor as “work,” at least one dictionary defines it as “productive activity.” I think it’s interesting how our view of that has changed over the years. I’m currently reading a book about a farmer who labored in the mid-late 1800’s. I’m impressed with all the things he did, but never get the sense he considered himself busy. He worked with the seasons, doing the things that need to be done. The author, his grandson, explains his grandfather’s explanation often was, “it’s just something I do.” His work was his life and his life was his work. I think farmers today would agree it’s still not an “eight to five” job.

Small wonder the Grange is such a great organization for farmers. Being a Grange member is not about attending a meeting or two every month. Much like farming, being a Granger is an around-the-clock activity. Or at least it’s meant to be! The Master’s entire opening comments emphasize that Grange is not supposed to interfere with our lives; it is truly meant to enhance and enrich our lives. And the task of those who lead the Order is to make sure that happens.

One of the reasons our Order is about to celebrate 150 years of existence is, I believe, the fact that it remains relevant and does enhance and enrich members’ lives. When the Bangor Daily News Reporter asked me what my hope was for the Grange of the future, I replied: “that every Grange finds a way to be a viable, energetic resource for their community, however that community is defined.” When we look at those Granges experiencing membership growth they have done that, but their growth and success is not solely about the programs they are doing.

In that same interview, I suggested that growing Granges always have two common qualities: good leadership and lots of passion. In growing Granges, members aren’t putting their lives on hold to “go to Grange” because Grange is part of their life. Their membership does furnish recreation, but it also means that by cheerful instruction (which includes networking) they are finding their labor (lives) lightened and elevated.

Simple things are not always easy. The installing Master also observes, “Thus our Order binds us together in fraternity…” I think it’s important to note that he or she does not say, “Our fraternity binds us together in our Order…” What really binds us together is shared vision and purpose. In the absence of that, there is no reason to trudge to the Grange Hall for a meeting—particularly on a cold or rainy night.

While it may be tempting to think life was simpler 150 years ago, let’s remember that those early Grangers didn’t hop in a car and turn the key while checking in with others in the family on a smartphone. Consider the effort it must have taken—chores had to completed, the horse and wagon readied… but that effort was done without complaint. Going to Grange was as much a part of their lives as doing those chores. They came from far and wide because it mattered.

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.

May 152017

karen-gagne-webBy Karen Hatch Gagne, Director

The Agricultural Committee has been busy this spring.  Following the Agricultural Legislative Luncheon, the committee has judged Agricultural Scholarship applications and applicants are being notified by June 1, 2017.   We have finalized information and criteria for the Grange Exhibits at the 2017 Agricultural Fairs and letters to our Grange judges is being sent out momentarily.  Criteria for the Grange Educational Exhibits have been completed and will be posted online.  If you need a hardcopy please contact the State Grange Headquarters.

We are now working on arrangements for the Agricultural Luncheon at the State Grange Conference in October.  Once a speaker has been confirmed I will be sharing the information out to all.  Please plan to attend this luncheon we are pleased to have this opportunity to offer an Agricultural Luncheon again in conjunction with the State Grange Conference.

We are looking for donations to use in our silent auction to support our Grange Agricultural scholarship. Anyone who has items to donate please contact me so I can arrange for pick up.  Thank you!

Hope your month of May brings sunshine and warm soil and garden plants!

May 152017

Secretary CubicleBy Sharon Morton, MSG Secretary


Spring has arrived on the farm and in our Grange lives.  New growth is everywhere from the budding trees to the planted seedlings.

The following Continuous Membership Certificates have been issued and will have been or are already presented to our members.  Androscoggin Grange #8:  Janice Brewer for 25 years; Joanne Boyington for 25 years; Carol Buzzell for 25 years and Merton Buzzell for 25 years; Danville Junction Grange #65:  Beverly Lashua for 75 years; Mildred Brainerd for 70 years; Glenys Ryder for 65 years; Neil Peaco for 60 years; Gleason Sturtevant for 55 years; and Ken Brewer for 40 years; Norway Grange #45:  Timothy Pike for 55 years; Willow Grange #366:  Hazel Kleinschmidt for 70 years; Farmington Grange #12:  Robert Smith for 50 years; Stephen Scharoun for 25 years; Marion Scharoun for 25 years; L. Herbert York for 65 years and Andrew Milliken for 55 years; Pioneer Grange 219:  Joel Morse for 60 years; Margaret Morse for 60 years and Bruce Stimpson for 55 years and Jacksonville Grange #358: Nathan Pennell for 25 years.

If you are printing your Continuous Membership Certificate Application from the website you will note the change that National Grange is now charging shipping and handling using the chart below:

*Please use the following Shipping & Handling Chart

  • Orders: Up to $10.00 = $4.00
  • Orders: $10.0l – $19.99 = $5.00
  • Orders: $20.00 – $49.99 = $7.00
  • Orders: $50.00 – $74.99 = $9.00
  • Orders: $75.00 – $99.99 = $10.00
  • Orders: $100.00 – $124.99 = $12.00
  • Orders: $125.00 – $249.99 = $15.00
  • Orders: $250 and above = $20.00

Example:             Three Golden Sheaf Certificates at $10.00 each  =  $30.00
One 75 Year Diamond Certificate & Folder at $10.00 =   $10.00
Sub Total: $40.00

You will then use the chart and find the correct shipping and handling for your $40.00 order which is $7.00.  You would then make your check payable to National Grange in the amount of $47.00 and mail your application form to me for processing.  If you have the old form please feel free to use them but use the shipping and handling chart above to correctly pay for your certificates being issued from the National Grange.  If you would like your certificate by a certain date please note that on the application form. I will advise National of your request.

Recording the minutes of your Grange is one of your most important duties.  They should be exact, concise, detailed, yet comprehensive history of your records maintained in a permanent record book.

A membership record book of all members should be kept with the complete address, degree affiliations, dates, dues records and any other necessary information which should be kept available and up to date.

Grange Secretaries are constantly required to fill out all kinds of forms.  It is imperative that all directions on each form be read and carefully understood before proceeding.    Be sure all questions are properly answered in full, that names, addresses, including Zip Codes are correct and complete and all information legible.

“Let us not forget the precepts of our Order. Let us add dignity to labor and in our dealings with our fellow men, be honest, be just and fear not… The record of your Grange will be held as a memento of your labors long after the recording hand has crumbled into dust.  Let them be exact that they may redound to your honor an exhibit a faithful history of the work of your Grange to all who come after us.”

Until next month!

May 142017

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

Are you ready for some great news? Your Maine State Grange Website hit a new record in May – in terms of visits to the site, the best day ever (since October 2010) was May 6, 2017, when there were 257 site visits! This record day also means that as of this writing, May 2017 is the month with the highest daily average of site visits – 114 per day. Naturally, I could resist a quick look at what might have caused this. (My experience suggests that data often raises more questions than it answers.) So I took a look at which pages/posts were the most popular in the last thirty days. In descending order:

  1. Program Books and Information Page (forms, books, etc. organized by function)
  2. Our History (a short history of the Grange)
  3. 2017 Directory of Granges (a recently published directory/list of active Granges in Maine)
  4. Update on LD 725 and LD 835 (information provided by the Ag Education Committee regarding bills under consideration)
  5. Our Officers (a “who’s who” list of state officers)
  6. Joining the Grange (includes a link to a membership brochure and application)
  7. Bangor Daily News Article About Exciting Granges (article headline: Maine Granges Are Making a Comeback!)
  8. About (a general page with links to other pages)
  9. I’m seeking… (a page where people can post requests for information about Granges and Grangers)
  10. Conferences (a list of state and regional Grange conferences and meetings)

Since the best day record was set the same day the Bangor Daily News Article was posted, there might be a correlation. The tempting conclusion is that folks are hungry for good news about the Grange. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that other highly visited pages and posts are reference pages with officer, membership, and Grange location information.

How do they find it? Well, the data suggests that most of our “referrals” are coming from search engines. In other words, people are searching for information using Google and other search engines and the Maine State Grange website comes up in the results.

While it’s important to stay focused, one undeniable conclusion we can draw from this is that we attract people to the Maine State Grange Website by making information readily available. This is one of the reasons I’ve started the “Resources for Grangers” posts—obviously, those resources are not just for Grangers. They are also for people who should become Grangers!

I’ve recently become interested in a communication phenomena called the “echo effect.” An echo chamber is “a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a defined system.” In short, repeated messages sometimes take on a life of their own and get reinforced by nature of the fact they are heard often. Another term we can apply is “tunnel vision.” We become so subconsciously focused on something we are hearing constantly we only see what’s at the end of the tunnel.

That’s one reason I believe we need to stop analyzing and discussing why getting members is hard. I do not deny it is challenging. But I also know that the more we talk about how hard it is, the more firmly we will believe it can’t be done.

On May 6, 2017, at least 257 people were interested in the Grange: our programs, our beliefs, our halls, and our events. Did we give them enough information to at least maintain their interest?

After the Bangor Daily News article, one person emailed me and said that she and her husband plan to join the Grange when they retire. What do you think of that? I know several Grangers I told replied, “How old are they? Will I live long enough to see it?” I wish more people had just said, “Wow! That’s great!”

May 142017

HeatherBy Heather Retberg

This week passed again in a soggy mist. When the skies cleared periodically, we worked at spring things. Phil and Carolyn and Ben worked at training the piglets to electric fence. We raise them in the woods as it’s just the best place for them to root and revel and run and croodle and do all things expressing their full pigness. But… first, comes the sometimes difficult task of fence training. When they come to us, they are little and sweet and aww-shucks piggledy cute. They are not yet at all cognizant of any kind of boundary. Up until last year, we had a fairly reliable pig training method. We stayed close. We observed. We fetched them out when they hit the fence. We made sure they didn’t get tangled. We made sure they went backward and not forward. They learned to avoid the fence and we knew they’d be safe and sound in the woods.

But, last year, there were long hours of pig chases in the woods. Long, tense hours. So, this year, extra precautions were taken–visible, physical barriers were added to the offset electrical one inside a smallish training paddock. The day to train them came when the sun shone again. I was out of commission for the day, so the brave three headed to the woods, fairly confident, hopeful leastwise, that the new and improved system would return us to our happier pig training days of yore. At day’s end, the pigs would be trained and we could work on getting the barned and cooped up animals turned out. Phhht. Carolyn returned from the training session exclaiming that these piglets are just crazy. Phil concurred–they ran kamikaze style right into the electric fence, two squeezed through the hog panel (so named presumably because it’s effective at fencing pigs!) and out into the woods. Thankfully, they wanted to return to the safe and sound hut-home Phil set up for them with some herding help from the pig crew trio.  But, with rain coming, the crazed pigs would have to be trained on a different day. There were fences to tighten up, water lines to run and check for leaks. This week, the cows would be turned out, never mind the pigs just yet. For now, they could cozy up in their piglet hut until another day.

Two days of mostly dry skies gave Phil time to mend fences and water lines in anticipation of Friday turnout day. Running water that won’t freeze in hoses and lines means we’re not dragging hoses and buckets to animals. Ahhh. Cows on pasture means so much less shoveling. Cows out of the barn means winter is finally over. Release. Relief. Contentment for farmers and cows for the growing season to come. This part of the work week went smoothly and come Friday, the dairy mavens were released from barn and dry hay to green pastures in the fresh, albeit moist, air again. Winter’s not really over ’til turnout day. When the cows go back out onto pasture, a little corner of the heart goes galloping along with them. Udders swingin’, heels kicking up, heads rubbing the good green earth again, the cows just let go of all the weight of long winter. They kick it up, they thrash it out, they test each other again. Our settled dairy queens act crazed and spring-feverish for a few short moments, but once a year.

Then, there was the duck. The determined duck. Last year, she had a habit, a way of getting up into the hayloft without, naturally, climbing all those stairs. There’s a good deal of loose hay in the loft at any given time and it makes a very desirable, quiet, out of the way, nesting spot for any fowl so inclined. IF said fowl can get up there. Last year, one duck would stand on the partially built shed beam at just the right distance of rise over run, well, rise over fly, to work her way up to flying through an open window. However, you might remember that Phil has done a substantial amount of work on the barn since last fall. Her old launch pad has been enclosed into a bonafide shed closing off her access to that window opening. Mid-week, I came out for morning tending to find her perched on the deck railing, looking longingly at the new hay loft opening. The rise looked too steep to me, but I was curious to know what she’d do. I went about my usual rounds. Next time I passed by, she had given up the deck railing approach and moved to perch on the upturned garden cart in the new shed that gave her access to the old windows. Only that was really a steep rise. I couldn’t imagine she could quite get into flight in that short, steep space. But, I was curious to know what she’d do. Next time I passed by, she’d moved over against the wall in the new shed up onto two hay bales stacked on top of one another that were, more or less, where the old beam had been. The rise looked about right from there. How she made me smile. From there, I could guess just what she’d do. Next time I passed by, she must’ve done it, because she wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Oh, such duck-ed determination!  I haven’t yet checked, but I’d bet a few dollars that she’s found herself a nesting spot up in the hayloft again.

Whether piglets, cows, or the good old duck, these critters are teaching all sorts of lessons at the Quill’s End Farm School this week. I know I’m taking them forward into the next season. Hope you can as well.


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.

May 142017

Christine Hebert1by Christine Hebert, Junior Director

I am pleased to hear all you juniors are working hard on your projects, and this is the year our juniors are going to shine.

Remember:  I need pictures from adults showing our juniors hard at work, or just having fun. I do have some pictures but need more.

The list of projects that need to be at Family Camp Out on Saturday, July 15, 2017, before 9:00 am for judging are as follows:

  • Bread dough ornament
  • Stick frame with picture
  • Birdseed mobile
  • Your boat that floats.

Many Hands make light work.

Our Boats are “sailing across America”

May 142017

by Rick Grotton, State Master

Hoping that all mothers had a very happy Mother’s Day. Even if the weather wasn’t cooperating, the day should always be a special one.  We should not let outside distractions influence our enthusiasm and positive thoughts. The more we dwell on negative thoughts, the more negativity comes to us. The more positive thoughts we have, the more successful we are in our labors and accomplishments.  If we dwell on negativity then we are using our energies on things that are petty and have no relevance to our Grange work. Thus we accomplish little. Other–members and the public–pick up on such energies. This IS a difference whether you get a new member and why some Granges fold. Who wants to belong to an organization with crabby and disrespectful people? Let the little things go, especially when dealing with our brothers and sisters.  Too many times I have attended meetings where after the meeting, someone will come to me and accuse another of insubordination or tattle on some petty thing that often makes no sense. Most often it is not even true. I have seen others leave a meeting (just recently) during a closing in which one of those who left had a speaking part. They just walked out.  Imagine what the visitors who were non-members were thinking. This is the highest form of disrespect to our Order! Just because we don’t get our way doesn’t mean we have the right to “sabotage” a meeting trying to make a point by leaving during a respective time of a meeting. This is disrespectful to not just the Order but to its members, especially when there are prospective members in attendance. Brothers and Sisters, these are big “don’ts” that harm your Grange and its reputations. The point is, that we all need to get along for the GOTO; things will get done, new members will join and the public will attend our events. Which brings us further onto the topic of membership.

Since the State Membership Committee no longer exists as of May 1, there have been thoughts on the approach to realign the committee into teams in different areas of the State. After attending meetings which have turned into town hall discussions some thoughts come to mind. One thought is to have at least five teams consisting of no more than five (5) members each travel within their respective areas to educate members about membership drives (including recruiting new Pomona members), hold discussions, do training and to encourage and attend any open houses for the public. Anyone interested in forming or being a part of a team let me know so I can hold some training classes for those interested. This is not  “we have always done it that way” but a different approach.

I encourage more Granges to invite other Granges for town hall discussions. Include prospective members and reach out to the public to attend. Invite a State Officer or arrange the meeting when your Deputy is present. It would certainly be a pleasure for me to attend one of these discussions where everyone has a chance to ask questions and gain valuable information. More information how to set up or how to arrange such a meeting can be obtained by contacting me.  Membership should always be a top priority whether your Grange is flourishing or not. Think about the Good of the Order. Think about improvements and what your Grange could be doing. Share ideas, ask questions, make suggestions, develop goals and be successful in your endeavors.

Election time is near which is a very important period in our Grange.  I would encourage members to try different offices as there will be fresh ideas and new leadership. It does not help you to have say the same Master serve for an extended period of time. History proves that having the same leaders year after year does not work for any organization. Fresh ideas and new leadership provide new goals and approaches to reach those goals. Even if you have a small Grange, officer changes are encouraged. The position of Master is NOT one of power but of keeping your Grange running smoothly and effectively. The Master does not run the Grange as a “dictator” or make all decisions for the Grange. The Master does not control any member or other offices. Should this be happening in your Grange, then it is time for a new leader. Consider what is Good for the Order. Do not worry about hurt feelings, do not be afraid of making the change or putting them back in the same office just because you don’t want to be looked upon as a “rebel.” Believe it or not, there are Granges which operate in this manner and many people will not join or members go to meetings or the person becomes upset when replaced. Many of these Granges struggle and end up closing, wondering why they can’t get new members. In the true sense of Grange, if someone (in any office) gets replaced, there should be no hard feelings or resentment toward the Grange or its members. If they threaten to quit because they don’t want to give up an office or when replaced, let them go; they are not true Grangers or have the best interest of the Grange in mind. Your Grange will be better off. History has also proven this to be true. Each officer has their own duties but in an office such as Lecturer, the Master should know what is being planned for the year out of common courtesy in order to have the Grange run smoothly. The Master position is not to be feared but experienced and much can be learned. I have found this to be a true statement having been Master in all levels of the State.

Although some of this discussion has to do with negativity, it is in no way meant to be disparaging or condescending. It is meant to be a wake-up call for all and try to “clean up” within and have our organization primed to accept and RETAIN new members. With these negative circumstances happening in our Granges, it is holding us back as an organization. It is what I have been experiencing in my travels and needs to be communicated to all so we know what NOT to do and for GOTO.