Nov 172020

Please note that Maine State Grange is providing this information without comment, endorsement, or warranty. This is a constantly changing situation and you are encouraged to confirm that you have the most current information from credible resources.

Nov 172020

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. During the pandemic, we are also listing local events sponsored by local Granges.

Your purchase will benefit the Maine Grange Foundation–not just on Black Friday!

Outdoor Safety Reminder

Firearms hunting season is underway. It is still very safe to fish, hike, and explore, but please wear orange or a bright neon color to be extra safe. The water is very cold – if spending time on the water, please use caution and wear your lifejacket, it can save your life.

Updated ODD Directory-print version

There have been a few changes to the ODD (Officers, Directors, Deputies) Directory. Download and print the latest version.

When Donating…

We’ve heard of more than a few cases where item donations are not being accepted due to COVID-19 restrictions, including some food cupboards that are requesting cash instead. You may want to check with the intended recipient before collecting items!

Website News

The online directories have been updated–both the Directory of Granges and the online ODD Directory. If you haven’t tried these, you should! You can sort them in different ways and search too!

Got Style?

When speaking, are you engaging in “verbal pollution?” Verbal pollution refers to adding repeating words such as “You know,” “like,” “OK? It’s usually easy to notice in others but a habit that can be hard to break!

Do You Have FOMO?

“FOMO” is, of course, a Fear Of Missing Out. One strongly recommended treatment is to subscribe to the Maine State Grange Website. We’ll send you a daily summary whenever news and columns are posted, and we won’t share your email address with anyone!

Online Directories Available 24-7

  • The ODD Directory features all state officers, directors, and deputies with contact information.
  • The Directory of Granges features all Granges in the state with a contact person. Please make sure your listing is correct!

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.

Nov 162020
Walter Boomsma

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

Are you tired of talking about the pandemic? I know I am but I’ll also admit that try as I might, it often works its way into the conversation even when both parties have agreed to “talk about something else.” So maybe we should accept that we’re going to talk about it and decide how we’re going to talk about it.

Using this website as an example, posting announcements and reports of Grange events taking place or being planned is awesome. Congratulations to every Granger who is finding ways to keep moving forward.

Whether you call it “quarantining,” or “sheltering in place,” or “lockdown,” it’s ultimately about social distancing–a term that I’ve come to despise. I’ve been unsuccessfully campaigning for the term “physical distancing” which seems more accurate. Physical distancing doesn’t imply withdrawal and lack of connection. It just means we have to be creative in our effort to stay engaged and connected.

I recently read an article suggesting that this is a great time for “companies to demonstrate resilience and sharpen their focus.” Can we change the word “companies” to “Grange” and start looking for opportunities?

This is a great time for the Grange to demonstrate resilience and sharpen its focus.

Maybe it would be more accurate to suggest this is a great time for Grangers to demonstrate resilience and sharpen their focus. In the midst of this pandemic, is the Grange part of your focus and conversation?

If so, are you willing to share how you’re talking about it? What you’re doing? What you’re focusing on?

Remember the Grange doesn’t call the farmer from his daily life but actually enhances it. In our early days, the farmer’s life was often isolated and at times lonely. We may not all be farming but we are all in danger of being isolated and lonely. As Grangers, we figured out how to address that 150 years ago. We can do it again! We actually have far more tools to work with today.

Let’s talk about how. What are you doing and thinking? Send your comments and news–a short paragraph or two is all it takes. Here are some “prompts” to get your thinking started. Complete one of these sentences:

  • “I am keeping the Grange alive by…”
  • “Our Grange is planning to…”
  • “One great thing that’s happened with our Grange is…”
  • “Being a Granger has helped me during the pandemic because…”
  • “I have an idea for Granges and Grangers…”
  • “I love the Grange because…”

Please include your name and the name of your Grange unless you prefer to remain anonymous.

Years ago we heard the clip-clop of horses hooves as folks headed to the Grange Hall to connect and share. Today, let’s hear those keyboards clicking as folks connect and share! We can connect with each other and maybe make the Grange go viral. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

And while you’re writing your post or comment, remember the words of Abraham Lincoln.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Abraham Lincoln
Email the Communications Director  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  

Subscribing to the site is a great way to stay connected with other Granges and Grangers!

Nov 162020

Meandering Around the Grange Way of Life

by Walter Boomsma


The following is a chapter from the book “Exploring Traditions—Celebrating the Grange Way of Life” and is reprinted with permission.

It might be seen as unfortunate that we most often only install officers once a year for there is much to consider in the installing officer’s opening remarks. We learn, for example, that our Order’s teachings, “…accompany members in their daily pursuits. They form part of the
farmer’s daily life. They do not call him from his work to put his mind on any other subject, but furnish recreation in his daily duties, and by cheerful instruction, lighten
and elevate his labor.”

I am always a little saddened when I hear comments like “our Grange doesn’t meet in the winter,” in part because it feels somehow wrong—as if we are setting aside what is meant to be an important part of our daily life. I do understand the practicalities of sub-zero temperatures
and winter travel difficulties. But I also wonder how many meetings our forefathers canceled because of weather.

I have often said that I don’t think our forefathers founded the Grange so we could have meetings and “do” the Ritual. Those activities are clearly secondary and designed to support what the Grange is supposed to be doing. I started this series of columns in a large part because I wanted to learn what the “Grange way of life” is all about. How does being a Granger impact our lives and “lighten and elevate” our labor?

We are an organization driven by teaching whether it be in degree work, the Obligation Ceremony, or Installation of Officers. Our meeting Ritual is designed to remind us of those teachings and every meeting includes a “lecturer’s program” that should be stimulating our thinking. All this teaching at least implies just what role the Grange should play in our daily lives. “Honesty is inculcated, education nurtured, temperance supported,
brotherly love captivated, and charity made an essential characteristic.”

The installing officer is, it seems, reminding us of what the Grange is all about. There is, of course, an emphasis on agriculture both as a science and as a way to “enhance the value and increase the attractions of our home.”

Valley Grange Master Jim Annis is fond of observing, “You rarely see a skinny Granger.” Perhaps we are paying too much heed to the first part of the installing officer’s reminder, “…we believe there is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink and he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor.”

Duties and responsibilities accompany Grange membership, but it must not escape our notice that words like “cheerful” and “enjoy” appear often in the installing officer’s comments and throughout Grange teaching.

When we begin to fully understand those teachings, we discover that Grange life is about far more than meetings and the Ritual. “… to all interested in Agriculture, who have generous hearts and open hands to help the needy, raise the fallen, and aid in making the labors of this life
cheerful, we say, ‘Welcome to the Grange.’”

If you call my cell phone number and I don’t answer, you’ll get to hear me say, “Sorry I can’t take your call right now. I’m busy trying to make the world a better and happier place.” When I first adopted it, I was just trying to do something different and perhaps a little entertaining. It’s now become both a personal mission and a slogan. When you think of it, isn’t that what a Granger should be doing? Maybe the next time somebody asks me what the Grange does I’ll answer, “We make the world a better and happier place.”

It could be just that simple.

Any degree or ritual quotations are from the forty-sixth edition of the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual or the most recent edition of the Pomona 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. Information about the book “Exploring Traditions—Celebrating the Grange Way of Life” can be found at, on Amazon, or by contacting the author.

Nov 162020

By Heather Retberg  (quillsendfarmatgmaildotcom)  , Quills End Farm

The themes of 2020 have emerged from so many places and in different ways, but they are clear and overstated: it is a year of extremes, it is a year of polarity, it is a year to let go of plans.?

On the farm, too, last winter’s plans are coming due soon.  We have ridden waves of unpredictability and surfed some.  This spring saw four calves on the farm born just in time to increase the supply of milk exponentially to meet the surge of demand.  We quadrupled our yogurt-making nights and tripled our cheese-making days.  We bottled and skimmed to beat the band. We added a delivery day and shifted another.

For reasons we can’t exactly be sure of, more of you came to the farm than ever before.? And, now, this fall of 2020, it is subsiding some.?A seven-month marathon is slowing to a jog.?

There is no finish line to speak of, but a pace, leastwise, that allows for a bit of circumspection.  And from where we are now, it appears that soon, in another unpredictable turn, we may have less milk supply than demand.  But, as much as we’ve talked our way around and all about it, figuring and speculating and re-figuring, we just can’t be sure how it will play out.
Please do stand by.

Esther and Eliza were bred in the late winter before the pandemic upended plans. They are due in December.  Cows need a break from lactation before calving again and Esther and Eliza are due to be dried off this coming week.  This will decrease our milk supply by about 45-50 gallons per week.  At the outset, this looks to suggest that we will be making fewer ‘extras’.  The milk may be bottled for drinking, but there will be less yogurt and cheese for the next six weeks.  Or not.  We may have to cut out a delivery day or two.  Or not.  Most years, we know more or less how to predict when we will need more milk supply and when we will need less and, to the best of our skill (and some luck) timing the cows’  breeding dates with Jack-the-bull, it all works out.  More or less.  This year it is just hard to say. 

BUT, we felt we should let you all know to expect…something different for the next little while.  It will just take us a bit to calibrate how exactly and what exactly will change.   In the coming time of less milk and less dairy processing, there will be time for necessary winter-preparations that move to the fore: the firewood, the carpentry work to re-configure the barn for more animals this winter, the cleaning of the barns, and moving of the portable shelters from their summer locations to their winter sites. 

We expect to keep up deliveries to the island, to Brooksville, and to Blue Hill, but we expect we will have less variety for a while.  The farm store will stay stocked.

We just want you to know to expect a bit of change in the coming weeks.  Yes, from us, too!  But, we will keep right steadfastly on here and around Christmastime will be in good milk flow again. Thanks for your patience and sticking with us through this next blip, however exactly it manifests. 

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.

Nov 152020

The Maine Grange Farmers’ Initiative (MGFI) is meeting virtually for the second time on November 18, 2020. Since this is after the deadline for the November Bulletin, this is just a brief update to keep everyone informed.

The committee continues to explore ideas for projects and programs. Expect an exciting report after the November meeting! This month’s meeting will be hosted by Heather Retberg.

Rebecca Wentworth of Halcyon Grange has recently joined the committee.

To expand its outreach and involvement across Maine, the Initiative continues to search for additional Grangers and non-Grangers to participate on the steering committee.? Inquiries should be emailed to Toby Martin or Steve Verrill.? Information about the Initiative’s work is also available on the Maine State Grange Website.

Email Toby Martin  (mtmdottpsmailatyahoodotcom)  
Email Steve Verrill  (sverrillatroadrunnerdotcom)  
Nov 152020

by Toby Martin

Is Modern Technology Not Working,
or Are People Just Out of the Loop?

In today’s world of computers, smartphones and satellites, if you want to communicate with someone, there are so many options available online, and the megabytes and gigabytes zipping everywhere at warp speed courtesy of modern technology of every sort and style, that you’d probably be surprised how many people still depend on surface mail or some other method to send and receive messages.

The people I usually communicate with have a smartphone and/or computer, and they’re connected to the Internet.  If you’re reading this column right now, you’re one of those people, but also because you subscribed to the Maine State Grange website at, where material submitted goes out to its readers promptly.

The problem is that far too few members subscribe.  How to communicate, then?

Let’s say you wanted to send an important message to all Grange members and needed them to respond within 72 hours. If you posted it on the website, subscribers would receive it, probably within 24 hours.? All the rest wouldn’t until they happened to visit the site because they’re not in the subscriber database.? That one, Plan A, wouldn’t deliver the results you want.? Scrap it.

Plan B would be to send the message first class mail if you had a mailing list for the membership, but most members’ mail addresses aren’t published.? The 72-hour timeframe of surface delivery would also eliminate that option and would take it off the list of possible choices.? It would also cost you a bundle of cash for stamps, and too much extra time would be needed to print, fold, stuff, and address hundreds of sheets of paper, plus the trip to the post office.? Strike that off the list.? Scrap Plan B.

Plan C would be to email the material to the Grange members who serve as contacts for local Granges and hope they would either email, call, or deliver the information to their members.? But some might not receive the material in time, or have another conflict to acting within the 72-hour time response limit.? The delivery and response dependability factor: really low.? Scrap that one, too.

The problem here, dear reader, is that all of this shows that there are undoubtedly many people who are not receiving timely information because they are not taking advantage of technology.

So why not turn to magical Plan D, which comes a bit closer to faster and fuller delivery?? It would be great to see that happen if only someone could come up with the solution.

Meanwhile, that important message never got sent

A member of Valley Grange in Guilford, Toby Martin works with nonprofit organizations whose missions inspire community involvement in Maine and New England.  He lives in Islesboro, where he represents groups involved in energy, the environment, the library, arts and culture. He is a published poet, playwright, and essayist, the editor of two mainland publications, and contributes regularly to online and print media. 

Nov 142020
Committee on Women’s Activities

By Margaret Henderson  (mlhenderson505atgmaildotcom)  , Director
Committee on Women’s Activities
207 948-2762

Hope this finds you all doing well.

For next year’s wooden craft project, birdhouse. These need to be made by hand, not from a kit.? Thank you. Sorry if there was some confusion about that.

Thank you to all that replied about the comfort foods.? Mac and cheese was the favorite. This month’s choices are:

  1. Scalloped potatoes
  2. Baked beans and brown bread.?
  3. Beef stew and dumplings

If you have any suggestions for this please call me or email me.

With the holidays fast approaching, it might be nice to think of doing something kind for your community. How about getting a few neighbors or friends together and go out singing Christmas carols in your neighborhood?? No cost involved and I bet that you would get plenty of smiles and “Thank you’s.”

I am wishing you all a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas, and blessings for a very Happy New Year! I pray that you will all stay healthy and safe and that next year will be a much better year for all of us.

Nov 142020

By Marylin Stinson

Enterprise #48 located in Richmond is cultivating connections with a year’s schedule set up with different committees in charge of monthly programs of assorted topics.

November 12, 2020, Family Health & Hearing had a theme of “Memories” expecting members to have pictures and souvenirs, but it turned into a storytime. Because we are a small group, especially during COVID, we didn’t have to draw names to see who could share, we all were able to. ?One officer called because she had just got out of work and was on her way, so we started sharing before the meeting.

What an assortment there was.?Members met Colin Powell and could have reached out and touched Jamie Farr.? Others had experiences with Land Rover and Model A vehicles and farm kids experiences that OSHA would never approve of today. Did you ever drive down the street and see, along with regular houses on each side, a Candy Land house with all kinds of colors? They had to turn around and go back to that and check it out. The CWA report was about learning to cook with different measurements – butter the size of a walnut, the difference between scant, level, rounded, and heaping teaspoons. Do you know what a ‘scrid’ is?

How about being a 9-year-old in a hotel with people she knew all watching out for her and she discovers a Red Hat Society meeting in one room and got her pink hat and joined them for their meeting?

With COVID restricting our connections with one another, it was good to share stories with people who care about us and the laughter was good for our souls.

We connected on our town’s Friends and Families Page and many citizens helped us collect one table load and eight or none bags on the floor for homeless veterans and another table of toys for Home for Little Wanderers. Now to connect with the proper places to deliver everything.

Our next meeting is December 10, 2020, and the Youth Committee is in charge of the program. We will have a gift exchange. When we run out of committees, we will have groups of officers – Graces, staff holders, pen wielders, gavel holders, getting together to plan something for their topics. We keep trying as we can to keep connecting with one another, including sharing on Facebook and in emails to keep everyone up-to-date.

Nov 142020

By Marilyn Stinson  (beedlehillattwcdotcom)  
207 824-2291
and Terry LaCombe Stevens  (terryllcacombeatgmaildotcom)  ,
207 356-2492

We ask the lecturers of every Subordinate/Community Grange, whether or not they have any children in their halls, to plan at least one meeting to make their members aware of the Junior Programs.

There are changes in the way Granges are presenting Words for Thirds dictionaries this year and we have an abundance of bookmarks promoting Junior Grange.?? We are happy to send bookmarks to any Grange for a donation to include with the dictionaries. There is plenty of room on the back so you can put a label on them with your local contact information.

The cost for sending 10 bookmarks is 70c and for 25 is $1.60. Can you help grow our Juniors?

 Here are some reminders from the Junior Grange Handbook for 2021. LET’S GROW JUNIORS – “Reach for the Stars!”


Please encourage your kids to get involved.  Save the crafts for July Family Camp-out for judging, please. Or take them to the Junior Challenge Meeting in April (if COVID allows it). Can you think of something relating to ‘Reach for the Stars’?

 January – Do a Re-cycle Craft to share at the Virtual Meeting on the 16th at 10:00. Share your Re-cycle Craft.


Use your own imagination for your own project… plastic lids or tubs, paper towel or toilet tissue rolls, used greeting cards, jars or cans that have no sharp nicks, any clean item that might be thrown away!

Turn it into a decoration or usable object. Use ribbon, colored paper, stickers, whatever strikes your fancy. If you use a glue gun or super glue, have parental guidance, PLEASE!!

 New crafts/activities for 2021 are Clay Creations. Use modelling clay that does not dry out, please, and create whatever you want. Size not to exceed 6x6x6.  Remember Play Doh dries out and falls apart so please use regular modelling or craft clay. Those who attended the Fall Grow Meeting received modeling clay in your gift buckets.

 And… Legos!! Create something original from odds & ends and parts & pieces of Legos, not just put a kit together. Use a plastic cake taker from a dollar store to put it in so your pieces don’t get lost if it falls apart, but it can be seen and carried to Family Campout for judging and to exhibit at Windsor and Litchfield Fairs. Miss Terry donated the cake carriers to whoever was at Grow Juniors September 2020 or goes to Spring Challenge in April 2021. They are only $1.00 plus 6c tax. The cake takers are about 10 ? inches across with a dome about 4 ? inches high.