Dec 302017

Members of Danville Junction Grange contributed to the annual Salvation Army Project again this year. They came laden down with many unwrapped toys, games, books, and knit goods. Pictured from left to right are Glenys Ryder, Community Service Chair and Envoy Holly Johnson of the Salvation Army.

Dec 282017

Short messages from your Communications Department

Here’s hoping everyone had a great holiday… and you’re now ready for a new year!

For reasons I truly don’t understand, we experienced some email delays over the Christmas Holiday… maybe the email elves were busy wrapping presents or something! I do think we’re caught up now… if you emailed or submitted information/news during the past few days you should have a reply. If not, please let me know!

In an unrelated note, we’ve been experiencing an increase in spam email from “hacked” accounts. Most of these seem to be coming from AOL and Yahoo email addresses… if you use either service for email, you may want to change your password on a regular basis. Also, be alert to the possibility that an email may have the appearance of being from a Granger you know, but that’s not necessarily the case if that person’s email has been hacked. Use caution when replying, forwarding, and especially before clicking a link in an email.

And, while I’m at it… ODD’s (officers, directors, deputies–don’t you just love that acronym?) please remember that the monthly deadline for your posts and Bulletin Columns is the fifteenth. You can submit posts any time and we’ll get them on the site, usually within a day or two at the most. You can actually submit posts more than once per month. However, Bulletin Columns must be submitted by the fifteenth of the month to be included in that month’s issue.

But wait, there’s more! We are gaining new website subscribers every week! Welcome! Now the question is, what news do you have to share with other Grangers around the state? Have you recently had new members join? Were your December events successful? Inquiring minds want to know!

Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster

Dec 282017

The Maine State Grange Youth will meet, 11 am on January 20, 2018, at Camp Dorothy, 2380 Hudson Road, Hudson ME! If you are 14 to 35 years of age, willing to help our committee, or your Grange Youth Liaison….. please join us Saturday, January 20th!

RSVP as lunch will be served. Be sure and let me know if you have any special food request.

This is a very important year for our Youth as we are hosting the 2018 Northeast Grange Youth Conference and we must continue moving forward with our planning.

Dec 192017

The December Issue of the National Grange Patrons Chain Newsletter is now available!

• During season of giving, don’t forget the Grange
• Grange shines at 150th Birthday Gala
• Junior Pen Pal program unveiled
• December merit badge spotlight
• Long-standing partner gets makeover
• Like people, Granges can benefit from ‘preventative health screenings,’ too
• 1 in 1,000 Club of the Grange Foundation
• Lecturer’s round up and preview
• Guidelines for Grange Leaders, a new Supply Store item
• 2018 Quilt Block Contest (Note that detailed information is included: instructions, entry form, etc.!)
• Legislative Fly-In 2018
• Proclaim Grange’s great Legacy in 2018
• Celebration of the National Grange Sesquicentennial Anniversary
• National Grange building fund pledge form

Remember, there is a link on the Program Books and Information Page that will allow you to read the current and back issues of this e-newsletter at any time.

Dec 172017


Well, it’s all over but the celebrating! The legislative bill, LD 725 “An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems,” has been passed by the Maine Legislature and signed into law by the Governor.

What this means is that a local farmer or gardener may sell self-grown food products to local residents without the approval of the state or federal governments. However, meat or poultry must pass the approval of the federal government or its designee.

An ordinance adopted by a municipality pursuant to this section must apply only to food or food products that are grown, produced or processed by individuals within that municipality who sell directly to consumers. Any food or food products grown, produced or processed in the municipality needs no federal oversight.

There’s only one catch. This law requires an ordinance adopted by a municipality which will apply only to food or food products grown or processed in the municipality by individuals who sell directly to local consumers.

Any food or food products grown, produced or processed in the municipality intended for wholesale or retail distribution outside of the municipality must be grown, produced or processed in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, rules and regulations.

So, fellow Grangers, go forth and grow your food products without fear of the federal government coming along to slap you in irons only because you’re selling your pride and joy to your neighbors.


Dec 152017

A mug WB

Several years ago, I posted a “Merry Christmas” message on our website for Christmas. I was gently and graciously taken to task by a member who noted not all members celebrated Christmas—he himself was Jewish. I truly appreciated his thoughts and am happy to report that we enjoyed a rather pleasant email dialog for a while, discussing some of the membership challenges Granges face and how “open” our organization truly is to different persuasions and perspectives.

The following year I remembered that discussion and posted a more generic “Seasons Greetings” message on the website. I was less gently taken to task for not acknowledging the Christmas Season. I was tempted to conclude that I can’t win—except for the fact I did have the pleasant experience the year prior. As I recall, after agonizing and soliciting ideas, I didn’t post anything next year. (The “Charlie Brown” problem-solving bias is, “There is no problem so big it can’t be run away from!”) That didn’t seem quite right either, but either no one noticed, or no one was upset by it. Phew!

Communication is an art and science. Effective communication also isn’t easy. We should choose our words carefully. But we are still a bit at the mercy of the listener’s perspective. Two young friends of ours demonstrated that while on a road trip. They decided to sing songs to us and took turns choosing what to sing.

At one point, the younger objected to her sister’s song choice. “We can’t sing that song—it has inappropriate words in it.” A thoughtful silence followed until the older girl replied, “It’s okay to sing that song because we don’t know what the inappropriate words mean.” The younger didn’t buy the rationalization, in part because she suspected we adults in the front seat (who were stifling laughter) would know what they meant and find them objectionable. When you think about it, there were some genuine insights into the art and science of communication discovered that day.

The older girl was focused on intent—her intent was to entertain us, not to upset us. The younger at some level understood Marshall McLuhan’s observation that the medium influences how the message is received. While we most often think of the “medium” as the delivery vehicle (television, social media, etc.) the medium certainly includes the language and words used.

A non-Granger once provided me with an interesting example. She said that her sense was Grange Meetings were for members, but Grange Programs were for anyone. I hadn’t thought about it before, but that actually makes some sense. The medium is the message!

On another occasion, we had a bunch of third graders at the Grange Hall for Dictionary Day. I’m careful with vocabulary but somehow accidentally used the term “deputy” when answering a question about how the Grange works. The very sincere follow-up question to my answer was “Do the deputies have badges and do they have to carry a gun?”

We certainly would do well to consider what is appropriate and what is inappropriate, remembering that the answers are not always black and white. In some communication circles it’s said, “Words do not have meaning, people give meaning to the words.”

There are people who would be happy to come to a Grange program, but they would not feel welcome at a meeting. The dictionary tells us that a “deputy” is someone “appointed as a substitute with the power to act.” (Merriam Webster) But a lot of people think of a deputy sheriff—an enforcer—instead of a deputy director. Conversely, while I’m happy to be a substitute teacher, I am not a deputy teacher.

We just need to think when we communicate, remembering that communication is giving and getting. Sometimes that means going beneath the words to get to the meaning. As a speaker, I’ll try to describe what’s going on at the Grange Hall as a program. But if I forget and call it a meeting, please know that I don’t mean you aren’t invited. Let’s not listen to reply; let’s listen to understand. Let’s not speak to be heard; let’s speak to be understood.

“You can talk with someone for years, every day, and still, it won’t mean as much as what you can have when you sit in front of someone, not saying a word, yet you feel that person with your heart, you feel like you have known the person for forever…. connections are made with the heart, not the tongue.”

― C. JoyBell C.

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Dec 152017


May your Christmas be merry and your New Year be all that you want it to be.

This year I am encouraging all members to participate in at least one of the state lecturer’s contests. In fact, I would like to see entries double in all of the contests. These contests are not just for Subordinate and Pomona lecturers, but for all members, even those who are unable to attend because of health or those who have moved out of the area. If you have not seen the new Lecturer’s Program Guide, ask your current lecturer or check them out in the lecturer’s section under the program books & information tab on the Maine State Grange website. I hope to see your name on at least one entry this year!

2017 – 2018 Lecturer’s Program Guide,

Dec 152017


Barn preparations proceed.  There are boards stacked in the shed, newly ‘shiplapped’ awaiting their next form…barn doors.  Phil aims to get doors and windows on last year’s additions–no mere tarp to keep blizzards at bay this winter, no ma’am.  This winter, ‘the addition’ becomes a bonafide barn, that keeps weather out and animals snug (-er).   Because of other connected circumstances, for the first year ever, the goats’ winter quarters got moved up on the long list of winter preparations and the saw and screw gun were at work this week making downright posh quarters in the other outbuilding for our caprine lovelies.   The move in day was today.  Since weaning time in September, the mamas have been in a neighboring paddock to the kids, separated by electric netting.  Today, the two ‘herds’ were reunited.  We moved the mamas into the goat house, arranged the electric netting to join up the new paddock with the kids’ paddock, and opened the gate once again.  There was the usual head butting as the young wethers established their places in the herd once again, but then all were curious about this new ramp, a door, a building?!  In they went, one by one to check it out.   It appears to pass muster, and Carolyn and I are happy goatherds with these grand new quarters for our goats.  One class of animals at a time, we’re readying for the coming storms.

Then, there are the quackers…the three amigos.  Our remaining three ducks are all drakes, fellas.  When there were still hens around, paired up one to another, the drakes treated each other just awfully.  The small mallard wasn’t permitted to come anywhere near the other ducks with mates, but was always off on his own, kept at bay by the larger green-headed drake.  So soon as he’d come near, the bigger drake would bully him until he’d settle elsewhere.  The small one ended up with a broken foot this spring and had a time with us in the duck hospital ward, leg splinted by Zander, tended by Carolyn.  Once the pond opened up again after the ice receded, we released our little patient and hoped for the best, and…watched.  The bigger drake still drove him off, but the small mallard could fly and fly.  The big one just didn’t have the lift anymore, so the small drake survived.  When the last hen died this summer, we wondered how these three fellows would get on together.  Their past history didn’t bode well.

Then, surprise after surprise followed.  Now, some of you won’t believe this at all–that’s OK, but I’ll relate it all the same.  That little drake changed his feathers and took on the plumage of a female mallard!  Yes, indeed, he lost the characteristic drake curl of tail, his green head dulled into brown, the white ring all but disappeared and his feathers became brown-streaked instead of the classic gray belly and darker back feathers.  He looked for all the world like a mallard hen.  Then….the bully drake did the same!  And, all three started hanging together, you know, just…hangin’.  They swam together, they ate together, they waddled around together–no more life or death bullying, no more competition for female attention.  They were bros.  Sometime around late summer, each of the drakes grew back their usual plumage and looked themselves again.   And, still, the fellas are pretty inseparable. Where one goes, all three go. They stick together now, curly tails and all.  No fighting, no antics, just three drake amigos amicably drifting around the farm, quacking, waddling, ducking it up together.

There really is never a dull moment up here, and few that don’t leave me wondering just what it’s all about anyways.  Biology is a fascinating subject in the field. Our critters certainly give us an education.


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.