Dec 092017

This article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119.

The Maine Christmas Tree Association (MCTA) is a non-profit organization comprised of family farms that produce real Christmas trees and wreath products for retail, wholesale, mail order, or “choose’n cut” during the Christmas season.  Producers may specialize or offer a combination of mail order, retail, “choose’n cut,” or wholesale production of tree and wreath products.

The purpose of MCTA since it was incorporated in 1962 has been to promote real Christmas trees and share information about fresh Maine Christmas trees and wreaths.  From finding a farm near you to the care and recycling of your tree, the Maine Christmas Tree Association is your resource for Christmas trees in Maine.

For a listing of choose/cut farms, click here.  To view locations for wreaths and other retail products, click here.

Nov 152017


The Agricultural Committee wishes to thank all Grangers who supported our table at the State Grange Session in support of our Agricultural Scholarships.  Our committee meets this week to put our calendar and plans together for the 2018 year.

We are looking for assistance in covering of our Maine State Grange booth at the Agricultural Trade Show booth from January 9-11, 2018.  If you are willing to sit at the booth during that time frame (9-5 Tuesday, 9-7 Wednesday and 9-3 Thursday) please call me 592-6980 or email me Karendothdotgagneatmainedotedu  (Karendothdotgagneatminedotedu)  . This booth is representative of all Granges in our state and we appreciate your support.

The Ag Committee wants to congratulate Pam and Bryan Wells the 2017 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the year. Their commitment to collaboration with other organizations to preserve our plants, woods, and fields is demonstrated through words and actions in their community-oriented Demonstration Tree Farm.

The Ag Committee met today and will have the updated 2018 Ag Scholarship Application available in January.  We will also have the newly revised guidelines for the 2018 Maine Agricultural Enterprise Award available and sent to all Granges after the New Year. We are encouraging all Granges to nominate families for the award in 2018.

The Agricultural Committee with lots of help from additional Grangers prepared and served the Maine Ag in the Classroom Annual meeting banquet and many thanks to all who served and/or made pies for this event in spite of the fact we were without power!

Nov 122017


Power.  Is yours on again? Is it out? Is it up?  Power.  Does it flow from people upward or from the top downward?  Did we really just shift it downward toward people? Did we do that?!!

This week, many of us have been consumed with conversations about power of all sorts–electric power, political power and, please let’s not leave food power off the list.  After postponing the pork pick-up because of that mighty, roaring, destructive wind, Phil did make it up to Herring Brothers on Thursday to fill the freezers (all nicely powered up) with bacon and ham and pork chops and sausage and ribs–every kind of good, delectable pork to keep us well fueled through these coming winter months.

On Halloween, Governor LePage signed the amended food sovereignty bill into law, which became effective immediately.  With that action, the state of Maine became the first state in the country to recognize the shift in power away from food monopolies and regulatory agencies to people in towns at town meetings.  Every town in Maine can now adopt local food ordinances governing the “direct producer-to-consumer transaction of food and food products”.   With one more likely major battle to come on the food sovereignty front, the very best thing we can do in Maine to protect this is to have so many towns and cities as possible adopt the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance, expanding the zone of food sovereignty.  When the next battle comes, the fabric of people power over our food will be stronger and more resilient.  Meanwhile, here’s a brief report that ran in Lewiston’s Sun Journal this past week announcing the amended law’s passage.  Here’s to saying ‘yes’!  Yes to feeding ourselves.  Yes to determining how we do that in our communities.  Yes to greater food self-sufficiency.

The foundation of food sovereignty has now been laid in Maine. We can grow our own food. We can feed each other.

As to electric power…we-e-ll, rural electrification is still a grand idea, isn’t it?!  With so many without refrigeration this week, we’ve been putting in some extra kitchen time to process milk.  We are well stocked up with cheeses, yogurts, milk and all things porcine.

Hope you are all again enjoying more ease in your daily doings with restored power.

Hope we will all enjoy more ease in our food exchanges with restored people power, too.

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.

Nov 062017

Mill Stream Grange held a garden “work bee” recently to re-vamp the Grange Memorial Gardens. Members (from l) Libby Harville, Roger Reville, Maggie Chadwick, Sarah Firth, Pat Stanton and Jill Sampson spent the morning digging, raking, transplanting, shoveling and watering giving the garden a much needed makeover. Mill Stream welcomes the public to attend any of its suppers, 1st and 3rd Fridays at 6, for information about who we are and what we do. We look forward to seeing you!

Oct 132017

A big thank you to those Maine Grangers who contributed to the success of the store at the New England Grange Building this year. As a Trustee I want to thank you and so does the Store Manager and Building Managers who run the store for us. Below is this year’s preliminary report:

This year’s fair weather had several variables, the first week was hot and humid, Grange weekend was very sunny & hot which started 95+ degree heat wave for 5 days. On Wednesday evening the cold weather moved in. There were 3 days of rain but 1,525,553 attended the 17 days of the Eastern States Exposition.

Total receipts for the store/crafts were $28,200. In the store cookie cutters were a new item and went very well as did the candy sticks. The new varieties of jams, syrups, pickles, and relishes did extremely well so did the colored popcorn. We had the pleasure of seeing many empty shelves at the end of Fair! The store took in $12,809.

A big thank you to all you crafters that supplied us with crafts: Scrubbies ran out the second Monday. We have only a few hanging towels, baby afghans, and mittens at the end of the fair. People are still asking for adult mittens, slippers, ladies sweaters, aprons, plastic bag holders, new unique Christmas ornaments, children’s stuffed toys, Halloween, fall and Christmas decorations, skillet handle pot holders, and door draft stoppers just to name a few. The craft section was $15,500.00.

Tom Gotauco had to complete the ladies and work on men’s bathroom as the contractor that was hired was not satisfactory. A little more work is needed in the men’s bathroom. Also, all the State Flags were moved from around the sides to the front of the hall over the stage. A new backdoor was installed and the cement steps were repaired. There was a lot of rot found in the process which had to be replaced/repaired. George Thomas and Steve Logan installed the window blinds and Linda says they look great!

On Grange Day, Linda picked up pastries, brewed coffee and Claire poured apple cider for the people that work or volunteer in the Avenue of States buildings for just under $300 saving us $2,300. The Blues Crew family entertainers perform 2-one hour’s sets during the day. We were graced with the presence of the National Lecturer-Chris Hamp and her husband Duane, who came to visit the Big E all the way from the state of Washington. Chris was able to cross off a few items on her bucket list by visiting the Big E and riding an elephant. Chris and Duane also marched with about 40 Grangers in the parade.

The managers want to thank all the volunteers who work the cash register in the Grange store, and the Raffle table where $4,075 is being split between the Veterans Home in Bennington, Vermont and Hurricane Relief.

Overall – A great year!

Oct 132017

Thank you to all the Granges and Grange members who set up Grange Exhibits at our Maine Agricultural Fairs.  The displays looked professional and they tell a story of who we are.  Congratulations to all!  Here is the list of Fairs, Granges and placing I have received back by fair.   And a very special thank you to all Grange members who judged Grange Exhibits this year.  I look forward to tweaking criteria and working with judges to provide consistent judging in 2018.

Waterford Fair:

Agricultural Exhibit: Waterford Grange, 1st

Pittston Fair:

Combined Exhibit: Enterprise Grange # 48, 1st, Huntoon Hill Grange #398, 2nd

Monmouth Fair:

Combined Exhibit: Winthrop Grange, 1st, Enterprise Grange, 2nd

Topsham Fair:

Combined Exhibit: Waterford Grange, 1st, Enterprise Grange, 2nd

Union Fair:

Combined Exhibit: Evening Star Grange, 1st, Medomak Grange, 2nd, Union Harvest Grange, 3rd

Windsor Fair:

Combined Exhibit: Evening Star Grange, 1st, Enterprise Grange, 2nd, Branch Mills Grange, 3rd, Vassalboro Grange, 4th

Blue Hill Fair:

Combined Exhibit: Castine Grange, 1st, Arbutus Grange, 2nd, Verona Grange, 3rd, Schoodic Grange, 4th

Oxford County Fair:

Agricultural Exhibits: West Minot Grange #42, 1st, Danville Junction Grange #65, 2nd, Waterford Grange #479, 3rd, Rumford Grange # 115, 4th

Domestic Exhibits:    Danville Junction Grange # 65, 1st, West Minot Grange #42, 2nd, Waterford Grange # 479, 3rd, Rumford Grange # 115, 4th

Franklin County Fair:

Agricultural Exhibits: Farmington Grange, 1st, Chesterville Grange, 2nd, North Jay Grange, 3rd, Wilson Grange, 4th

Domestic Exhibits: Chesterville Grange, 1st, Mill Stream Grange, 2nd

Cumberland County Fair:

Combined Exhibits: Danville Junction Grange #65,1st, Mt Etna Grange #147, 2nd, Highland Lake Grange #87, 3rd

Oct 092017


Sometime mid-week, the changing colors of the leaves went from drought-stressed, washed out reds and oranges to bright, flaming scarlets and green-yellows reminiscent of springtime. Overnight, the harsh edges of the dry summer and fall appeared to soften, to warm, and to relax once again.

Phil and Ben brought Teeter and Leona, along with Fred, the bull,  up from the lower ‘dry cow’ paddock to the main pasture with the dairy cows. Bonnie, too would be in heat soon and ready to see Fred, and Teeter and Leona would soon calve and begin the walk back and forth to the barn with the milking cows once again. Teeter’s udder is filling with milk and we expect to meet her new calf this week. On Friday, Leona calved. Last year, she didn’t take well to milking at all–it was more of a wrestling match than seemed beneficial, so we let her raise two calves instead. This year, we’ve been hoping she might prove to have settled a bit, and become a milk cow after all.  She had a little red bull calf, fuzzy and rugged, already showing all kinds of curiosity and bounce.

Leona was born and raised right here on the farm. She is Cricket’s daughter and built an awful lot like her–sturdy and large-boned. She was a bottle calf and has always been something of a love–seeking out a nice pat, rubbing up from behind to induce us to scratch her under the chin, not one bit skittish. UNTIL…that is, she came into the milking parlor.  Phil worked with her some last year, but, in the end, decided that Leona would be a great candidate to nurse a few calves and he’d have a go at it again this year. Saturday evening was the moment of truth, the first try at it again.  It didn’t go well.  Leona is a kicker.  And, this time around, her hoof found Phil’s eye. He’s sporting a milking shiner for the first time I can remember. And, won’t be making a milk cow out of Leona after all. Some days you get it, and some days you get got. He’s been gotten. He’s doing just fine, however. On day two he reports no pain and that it simply looks worse than it is. It looks pretty bad.

Away from barn and pasture, far away in Omaha, Nebraska, where all things USDA are decided, that agency has decided that it doesn’t like our proposed amendment to the food sovereignty law, and will ‘neither approve or endorse’ it, which, doesn’t, as you may imagine, mean that it won’t meet the necessary requirements. But, they don’t like our “tone.” The legislature is set to reconvene on October 23rd to take it up. We’re working on building consensus with the Department and Committee before that date. This may all be a bit like working with Leona. It’s just fine out in the field, just fine in the barn, but when it comes down to business, sometimes you get a kick in the eye. The Department has shown itself to be a bit like that already. But, what can you do? Do good work, act in good faith, and get down to business. The rest is a bit beyond our control.  The time is soon coming to mobilize.  Just as soon as we know, I’ll pass on the good word.  Sometimes, a cow settles after one lactation and doesn’t kick. You just don’t know until you try. What’s true on the farm may prove true in Augusta.  You just can’t know until you try.

Happy Autumn!  May scarlet blazes and yellow-green glows soften any harsh edges in your week.

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.

Sep 292017

Short messages from your Communications Department

Can’t wait for State Convention to learn about activities and accomplishments? The following annual reports are now available on the site:

Directors and Committee Chairs are reminded that the deadline for submitting your annual report was yesterday. Please send your report to Jim Owens  (jimowens1atmyfairpointdotnet)   and copy the webmaster  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)   so your report can be posted to the site.

Sep 162017

karen-gagne-webBy Karen Hatch Gagne, Director

The summer has flown by; I have been busy in my garden weeding, picking vegetables and canning fruits and vegetables.  Fair season has been in full swing for a couple months and will be winding down soon.

I worked diligently with judges, grange members, and committee members to create guidelines (using the framework from Piscataquis Fair) for Fair Educational Exhibits.  I worked with Sharon at State Headquarters to get information out to fair judges and all Maine Agricultural Fairs in preparation for the Fair Season.  As the Maine State Fairs are moving closer to the end of the season and I will collect data from them to use for making next fair season more productive.

The Ag Committee is now working on the Maine AG in the Classroom Annual meeting to be held November 2, 2017 as we will be prepping and serving the food to all MAITC participants.  We will be looking for pies to serve that night and people to serve the meal.  More information will be sent out on this.

Reminder there will be an Ag Luncheon on Thursday during State Grange.  Roast pork and the fixings for lunch and the speaker is Amber Lambke of Maine Grains located at the Somerset Grist Mill.  Get your reservations in as the reservation deadline is early October so don’t procrastinate too long.

Sep 152017

Congratulations, East Sangerville Grange! A recent post on the Maine State Grange Website about the adventures of the “Fighting 177th” was picked up by the National Grange and printed in the current issue of Good Day! the magazine published by National Grange. We can debate whether or not programs like this are traditional but there’s no question they generate excitement in the Grange and the community. So let’s hear a Grange Cheer for this exciting Grange and these exciting Grangers!

East Sangerville’s Fighting 177th

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