Mar 312020

Any problems with telehealth options?

The following request was posted on Facebook by National Grange. I’ve reposted it here since I know not everyone uses Facebook… If you think you have something to report, email Burton Eller  (BElleratnationalgrangedotorg)   or Amanda Brozana Rio  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)  . Thanks!

Grange members: have any of you had complications with or been unable to access telehealth options recommended by your healthcare provider DURING this time of COVID because of broadband CONNECTIVITY issues? You can respond here or private message. We are seeking first-hand experiences you may wish to share with a reporter from Huffington Post. Burton Eller is heading this important project.

Mar 302020

By Sherry Harriman  (SHarrimanattwcdotcom)  ,
Maine State Grange Master
207 490-1029

The Grange has always been involved in “community” and we will continue to do so. Many other folks are feeling the community need and spirit.  The simplest of things can be a tremendous help to all of our neighbors. Some need more than others. Provide a smile.

This is a good time to do a little clean up around the Grange halls if you need something to do as a family out of doors.? An hour of raking or collecting the rocks out of the lawn or picking up trash will spruce things up tremendously.? Take turns, rather than have a big group there for clean up all at once, go over a couple of different times to help out, like I said an hour here or there. Take pictures and keep track of your efforts the same as you would any other year.? The same could apply to the roadsides and cemeteries we usually work on in the spring. ??

Here is an indoor activity to work on with your family.? Using a standard map or map book, locate all the towns where there is a Grange in Maine.? Write your directions on how to get to that place, using route numbers and road names.? Think of other things to look for on the map, younger kids could locate a tent for camping, a symbol for unique natural features, or fishing. Remember no phones or computers!? This is actually a good skill for anyone to learn.??

What about resolutions, maybe you have lots of time sitting at home to think up resolutions for the good of the Grange, community, state, and nation.? Resolutions are due in the office August 15 by standard mail or email but must be written not just vocal. Get them written, to be submitted for discussion and voted on when your Grange returns to work.? The following basic information for writing resolutions was provided by the National Grange Legislative Department. More detail with examples is available in the guidelines sent to Subordinate Masters last fall.?

Writing Resolutions that Work

The Grange has a long history rooted in member participation in our policy development through our resolution process. Each Granger is tasked with addressing voids and surpluses in our policy and can propose to implement these changes by offering amendments to your local and State Granges. Drafting resolutions may seem like a daunting task at first, but if you follow three simple steps listed below, you will soon be on your way to writing a clear and effective resolution.

First, it is important to know the anatomy of a resolution. There are three main parts: the Title, the body or Whereas section, and the conclusion or Resolved section.

  1. The Title should clearly state the issue to be addressed. For example, if you are drafting a measure to deregulate the postal service, your title should be something along the lines of Deregulation of the Postal Service rather than just Postal Service
  2. The Whereas section is where you get to make your argument for why this resolution is necessary. This section does not become policy but explains to other Grangers why the issue is important and provides details, data, and other reference material so they can be better educated on voting for the issue.
  3. The Resolved section must be a complete sentence which sums up what your resolution is trying to achieve and can stand alone without any of the supporting information.
Mar 292020

Daily Farmer Zoom Meetings was started UMaine Extension as a way for farmers and farm service providers to share what is happening on their farms. What is working, what isn’t working, etc. And to find people to answer questions during this Covid19 pandemic.

The past week in addition to farmers, people from Farm Service Agency, Maine Department of Labor, Hannaford’s local buying program, and Congresswoman Pingree’s Office have come on to discuss programs that their offices have for farmers and to answer farmer questions.

We will continue these Daily Zoom Sessions until April 6th and decide whether to continue after that. To participate, see what guest may be appearing, or to view the chat notes from previous Zoom sessions go to .

To get on an email list to get a reminder for the program email donnadotcoffinatmainedotedu  (donnadotcoffinatmainedotedu)  .

Monday, March 30th – The topic – MDACF ‘Seed is Essential & Shifting Spring Sales’. Our aim is to ask what farms are forecasting with spring seedling sales and brainstorm together about market channels we can message and encourage the public to use. We will also have folks available to talk about licensing requirements for seedling sales, plant health and horticulture guidance.

Meetings are held daily at 7 pm. You can join by video or phone. Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: or telephone:
US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 408 638 0968 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 301 715 8592

Meeting ID: 704 929 403

Mar 282020

By Rick Grotton  (rictiataoldotcom)  ,
Membership Committee Director
207 582-5915

I hope everyone is safe and secure in their homes or workplaces should they be essential workers. I decided to submit my April column early as my head has been filling with thoughts and ideas that need to be shared. As you can see, this pandemic has affected every aspect of everyone’s lives. This too will pass, however, the effects of what we are going through will last in our minds and the way we live our lives in the future. The world has changed, our ways of thinking have changed. Is this a time of new awareness? Let’s make lemonade from this lemon. Let’s look for the good things that can come from this. I cannot help to stop and think why this is happening. Many questions come to mind. In this deeply politically divided country, is this a way to bring us all back together on the same page? Did our Higher power need to bring this on us to bring us to a new awareness of ourselves and how we think about others? Were we headed for something worse had this pandemic not happened? It is strange that our news networks and newspapers lately have not reported much really bad news other than the pandemic? We have heard nothing of terrorist attacks, wars and political arguments. Has anyone noticed this quick change of reporting? It is good to hear everyone working TOGETHER to fight this. We are on the same page for now. If you do happen to go out for any reason the changes can be seen. At the grocery store the other day, it was strange to see empty shelves, people distancing themselves from others, and a solemn, weird atmosphere. It was unlike any feeling I have had.

We cannot even meet at Grange for the time being, however, we must not stop thinking of new ideas and projects for when this pandemic passes. This is a perfect time to sit and think ahead and share by phone or social media with our Brothers and Sisters. Grange goes on and we can help during this serious time. Together, we can get through this dreary time with the sun shining in the distance. And when that sun returns, we will all be better people for our actions. Do good, asking for (or expecting) nothing in return and your reward shall be great; love one another. Remember that phrase? It is a great lesson. We should do this every day of our lives. Don’t dwell on the worst; hope for the best. WE can do it!!!

In my last column, I talked about the three C’s; Community, Cooperation, and Communication. During this time now, these three C’s are very important. It is also time to add the fourth important C; Change. Changes are taking place beyond our control. We don’t like to be forced to change, but make these changes in a positive way; clear out the old and bring in the new! It is up to us to adapt and whether or not we like it; accept the changes and make the best of them. It will help to get through this with a relaxed, clear mind. We learn more about ourselves and are able to change the things that need to be changed without much fanfare. Have Faith, Hope, and be Charitable. Fidelity is also important. Also, do well to Persevere. These Grange lessons need to be applied! They will help us tremendously if we take them into consideration. Maybe these changes needed to be? Who knows; take them seriously and look forward to the results

Cooperate. It is very important to cooperate with what our leaders and medical experts are telling us. And most seem to be doing such. Do not panic about the events in the world around you, but comply. Together we fight, we work, we help, we adjust. Do your part to cooperate. Is there a neighbor, family member or friend who needs something at the grocery store or medications? If you are going out yourself; ask them. For one, it is fewer people on the run. Another it is great to be helpful and considerate. You are doing yourself and others a great favor. Neighbor helping neighbor; isn’t it the way life is supposed to be? What a perfect time to do good things, to make us and others happy and secure in this uneasy time.

Community. We all need each other more now than ever. Be aware of happenings in your communities and help when you can. Be available for those in need. Donate items such as food (or toilet paper-still can’t get over that one) and other necessary items if you can. Good acts result in good feelings and good vibes. Pray for an end to this crisis. Help others get through their changes as you have done.

Communicate. Call friends, family members, or neighbors and check on them. Brighten their day. Let them know you are thinking about them. Grangers do that sort of thing! Make them feel they are not alone in this world. Offer assistance if needed. We are family and we should be there for each other in good times and especially the bad ones.

As I mentioned earlier, the lingering effects of this time will be remembered long into the future. Make the changes with Faith, Hope, and Charity, with Fidelity and Perseverance! We are Grangers. We have been taught the lessons; let’s apply them to our lives and the lives of others! Make the “new ” world a better place. God Bless and be healthy.

The Membership Conference scheduled for April 28 at Arbutus Grange is canceled until further notice.

Mar 282020

By Walter Boomsma  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  , MSG Communications Director
207 343-1842

Communication Shorts are brief (short) but important items posted for your information and use, including Degree Days and Officer Installations.

Membership Conference Postponed

The Membership Conference originally scheduled for April 28, 2020, has been postponed–a new date will be announced.

Words for Thirds?

Some Granges plan their Words for Thirds dictionary presentation for this time of year… if so, you’ll want to check with your school(s). Some schools are sending home packets of school work and might be able and willing to send them home to students.

April Grange Month Events

Don’t abandon your Grange Month Plans, postpone them to a date “to be determined.” Or, if you can, find a creative way to conduct your event safely and without compromising current guidelines. Think outside the box!

Online Directories Available 24-7

Remember we have two directories that are interactive–meaning you can sort and search! The first is the ODD Directory which features all state officers, directors, and deputies with contact information. The second is the Directory of Granges which features all Granges in the state. Both can help us stay connected!

Have You Got Style?

This might surprise you but according to the AP Style Manual, the term “national anthem” is written in lower case-not capitalized.

Website News

We continue to see positive news and events! Columnists are invited to submit “extra” columns that are positive and encouraging.

Bulletin Reminder

As a reminder, columns and news items for the monthly printed Bulletin are due by the fifteenth of the month. Columns and news items for the website can be submitted at any time.

Note that when you subscribe to the Maine State Grange Website we do not share your email address with others and only use it to send you–at the most–one email per day when new information is posted.

Mar 272020

Guilford—Over forty fourth-graders from Piscataquis Community Elementary School in Guilford were challenged to create an advertisement for Valley Grange as part of the annual “Newspapers in Education” program sponsored by the Piscataquis Observer. This is the twelfth year the Grange has sponsored the program. Students have an opportunity to become “Honorary Assistant Publicity Directors” according to Walter Boomsma, Program and Publicity Director for Valley Grange. Under the direction of Art Teacher Mark Arthers students labored to produce ads that would promote the Grange and its programs.

Boomsma pointed out “everyone who participated is a winner” and the Grange is providing “thank you magnets you can use to hold your school papers on the fridge.” Boomsma also noted that the Grange was particularly pleased so many ads included a reading theme and dictionaries, reflecting the students’ appreciation for the Grange’s Bookworm and Words for Thirds Program. “Our goal with the kids is to create a love of reading and learning. These ads suggest we’re achieving it.”

Winners included Teegan Pomerleau (3rd place), Lillyon Boutilier  (2nd place), and Ava Edes (1st place). Ava’s ad included a book being devoured by a book worm and two people reading together, noting that “volunteers are needed” to “come help kids learn.”

Ava’s first place ad will appear in the Newspapers in Education supplement of the Piscataquis Observer. In addition, winning ads are used on the Grange’s promotional material throughout the year and featured on the Valley Grange Website.

Valley Grange Master Jim Annis noted that Valley Grange is happy to sponsor several programs at PCES and other schools in the area. “We just love involved with the school,” he noted. “These kids are our future and they give us hope.”

Mar 242020

By Marilyn Stinson  (beedlehillattwcdotcom)   207 737-2611 and Terry LaCombe Stevens  (terryllcacombeatgmaildotcom)   (207) 327-1692 , Co-directors

National Junior Grange has discontinued the Merit Badge program and replaced it with a ‘Passport’ program. Some states, such as Maine and Minnesota, are continuing with the badges so our kids can show off their accomplishments with pride. Our young people are working on the ‘Your State’ badges at home and if any parents are homeschooling right now, it is a great way for everyone to learn about Maine during our 200th birthday.

Junior Leaders, Terry & Marilyn, are challenging adults to earn badges as well. We’ll have special badges for the adults who can pass the challenges. Can you handle it?

The requirements were just posted in our monthly column, but we want to add an extra challenge: Enlarge and print out this song and tape it over your bathroom sink to sing while washing your hands. It’s also good for ‘Maine Moments’ many of us are having during our meetings.

Maine Counties Song – To the tune of Yankee Doodle:
The sixteen counties in our state are:
Cumberland and Franklin,
Piscataquis and Somerset,
Aroostook, Androscoggin,
Sagadahoc and Kennebec,
Lincoln, Knox, and Hancock,
Waldo, Washington, and York,
Oxford and Penobscot.

Mar 242020

East Sangerville Grange saved the day for three-year-old Owen Cookson’s birthday by giving him a “birthday parade” when his party was canceled due to the need for social distancing. Check out the smile on Owen’s face in this video and news story from WABI-TV5.

Mar 242020

Webmaster’s Note: Look for some extra columns and features during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only do we want to increase connection, but we also want to emphasize positive news and thoughts.

By Heather Retberg  (quillsendfarmatgmaildotcom)  , Quills End Farm

The crocuses emerged from their straw bed into a strong, cold wind.? We noticed them out and blooming on a morning much like the morning when Dandy’s calf was born but a few weeks ago–such bright sun, and such a raw and bracing wind.? The crocuses stood tall in the wind waiting to unfurl their petals until a day when the sun was warmer and brighter than the wind.? Daffodils are up, too, bright green spears emerging from the dark, chilly soil.? What bright cheer from a dark space.?Likewise, the North Star, Orion, the Pleiades, the Major and Minor Bears, and the Dippers, big and little,? shine all the brighter for the dark of the night with no moonlight.? Our new calf is a bright and spritely thing; she is sticking much closer to her mother Dandy and her big steer brother Nifty now that she’s got a few weeks of living under her belt.

Just like all of Dandy’s calves, she keeps her distance from us–not one to cuddle and allow for much petting.  (But she’s sooo soft!)  Ben reports he has to find her in a warm sunbeam for her to allow any close proximity.  What is it with all the distance?  Why do we want to touch all the more what is off-limits: our faces, each other, fuzzy warm calves?  

Even in normal times, I can’t help but draw metaphors from the blossoms, the animals, and the night sky. There is nothing normal about these times. And creation couldn’t be speaking more loudly now in early, early spring to draw near, to tune in, to tend in the best way possible. Friends, that’s just what we’re doing. Many of you have asked how we are and how things are going on the farm. I don’t mean to be opaque, but the crocuses are emerging, Dandy’s calf is growing and entertaining, the stars are so, so bright in the night sky. The world very much has the feel of collapsing around us, but there are four cows who need to be milked each morning and night, two goats with milk in the morning, hens to tend and eggs to pick. Phil took the winter pigs to butcher last week, just making it out of the woods with truck and trailer while the ground was still frozen hard enough for such a brazen task mid-March. He and Ben finagled just the right window of time to get things in place and then get them out of place. Over the next month, two new heifers–Juni and Pippin–will calve and two seasoned milkers–Cricket and Winnie–will, too. We will have so much cream and milk and more for cheeses and yogurts. It is a busy time on the farm and in the natural world even while the organized world beyond the farmyard unravels one societal thread at a time. Carolyn and I are planning the garden and she is mulching to beat the weeds.

We can’t know what comes next. But we see the stars brighter for the dark, dark night; we see the purple and yellow crocuses more vividly for all the brown-gray around them; our eyes are drawn to the little calf for the stolid brother and mother who don’t bounce and frolic so much anymore. I don’t mean things are just as they should be. I only mean when so much is not as it seems it should be, when all the foundation underneath is showing fault lines, it is just then that all the color and brightness and bounce, all the order that still does exist shows up in technicolor against the chaos. I am remembering the story of Peter walking on the water toward Jesus in the boat. There was a raging storm, there were waves welling up around him, yet he did not sink so long as he kept his eyes locked and forward.

Covid-19 is a beastly wave. We are all learning more each day about how to understand it, why soap is effective, why food is not a vector, why we all need to be “protectors, not vectors,” how few hospital beds are available, how the spread of the virus is changing in Maine, county by county, person by person each day. Our attention and our growth in learning is essential for the well-being of the whole of us, not just ourselves. But we must, I think, still take cues from the rest of nature as well. God put them there for a reason. We can’t indulge only in staring at that dark wave that may overtake us. We must keep our eyes locked and forward. Our feet are still on solid ground, there are flowers blooming, there are stars shining, and there are cows to husband and midwife.

Our attention must be forward in the midst of this storm.

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 club of farmers in her area and has generously given us permission to share some of her columns with Grangers. Visit the Quill’s End Farm Facebook Page for more information.

Mar 232020

By Betsy Huber  (betsyatnationalgrangedotorg)  , National Grange Master
(202) 628-3507 x112
(484) 459-1957 (Mobile)

Betsy Huber, National Grange Master
Betsy Huber, National Grange Master

I hope everyone remains healthy and you are being wise and staying home as much as possible in these strange times.?I’ve been glad to see the many cancellations of Grange meetings and activities—not glad that everything is canceled, but glad you are being careful and not risking your members’ health or the health of your communities.?

As I write this on Sunday, 21 cases of COVID 19 have been diagnosed in my own county, moving each day from Philadelphia closer to my home. As predicted, it is spreading rapidly across our entire country and no state or region will be exempt. We can only pray that our loved ones will isolate themselves and be safe.   

I know it is contrary to our Grange principles to be idle and not be helping others, but there are things we can do even if we can’t meet together in person. Many people have jobs that have been halted and they may not have any income for a while. Food pantries will soon need much more food. Stanford Grange (NY) has a food cupboard set up on their porch for anyone to drop by and take what they need. If your Grange hall is in a more rural area, you can arrange to collect food at a more public place or drop it off directly to the food pantry. Call ahead; they probably have arrangements to do this safely. 

You could get together with a couple of members to make soup for take-out. Many families are used to eating out frequently and would be happy to pick up a quart of soup as a break from cooking.??

Many people are talking about or making face masks. I know we have many Grange seamstresses who would love to take on this challenge.?HOWEVER, before starting this project you should definitely talk with your local hospital or clinic to make sure you have the correct pattern and materials to do this, or your efforts will be wasted.?? Most important of all in this time of isolation, send a note or card each day to someone who is alone. Members or friends in nursing homes or assisted living are not permitted visitors, and the days can be very long. Lift their spirits with a greeting.?Call a fellow Granger to check-in. In our busy lives, we have all neglected to do these things to brighten others’ days. Now is the time to go back to those practices to be a friend to others who may need a friend. This may be the most important service we can do in these times.?