Sep 132017


This week has marked much transition, gently lit by September’s slanting shadows and dappling light.  Carolyn returned to the fall soccer and cross-country field, Ben began high school for the first time, Zander continues ‘adulting’ into another season, the droughty spell has so stunted the grass growth and required an early start to the hay-feeding season; but, oh, this is cow weather!  The ladies do well in September air.  An unexpected transition back into heightened time and attention spent working on protecting food sovereignty meant many hours this week on phone and computer while making what sense there is to be made of the rapid developments in Augusta.

Early in the week, legislative leaders met with the agriculture commissioner and members of the governor’s staff to hear their reports of the status of the USDA threats to take over Maine’s meat and poultry inspection programs.  Much reading and thinking, phone calls and discussing, followed.  There is truly little, if any, wiggle room to be found…yet.  Later in the week, the attorney general’s office looked over the materials and met with the legislative delegation to determine how to move forward. Tomorrow may hold a meeting with the governor.  It weighs heavy, even as the light of September lifts and the abundance of the farm in the fall, restores.  Yet, still, little wiggle room to be found.

This week, it was the pears that called for our attention, and, one sunny day, while I stayed indoors, computer-side, working on wiggle room, Carolyn and Phil put on the fruit-picking hardware aprons and headed out with a basket to the orchard.  The branches are laden with small, round pears.  They’re knobbly things, and a little knotted, too, but sweet and small, and a gift of the farmers from generations past down through the decades right to us, this fall, brows furrowed with legal conundrums and shifting fall gears.  Pears, it turns out, have a fairly magical quality to un-furrow brows and bring past pleasures into the present day.  Who knows–one of those pears may just hold an inspiration for wiggle just in the nick of time.  With the sound of crickets rising and falling all around, sucking juice from a pear, untended for so long, is a September gift not to be missed for all the legislative battles in the capitol.


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.

  One Response to “View from the Farm — September 2017
-- by Heather Retberg

  1. Another great column, Heather! I love how you put everything into perspective! Have a wonderful and fruitful autumn!

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