KEVIN YOUNG, DIRECTOR
60822 Creek Road
Niles, MI 49120
269-684-3870
kevin60822@sbcglobal.net


JULY/AUGUST 2020 GRANGE NEWS

Wow July!? Where did the first 6 months of 2020 go to? I wish it would have taken COVID-19 along with it so we could get back to a little bit of normal living now. I hope everyone that plants a garden was able to get their plants before the stores sold out of vegetables early this season. We were able to get our plants before what we wanted were sold out including our seed potatoes. We planted our seed potatoes late yet again this year but Mom and Dad put theirs in the garden here at the house so they could be watered with the rest of our shared garden. We had a good crop of potatoes last year with planting them by way of the Ruth Stout method of gardening. This method will require basically very little watering and no weeding when done correctly. It is a system where you are “composting” the materials back into the soils during the winter months including the plants/vines from the growing season! No more need to use the rototiller. I hope this works well! Google Ruth Stout method of gardening. There are videos and everything on the internet on this form of gardening plus others as well.
 We are a few short months now from our 2020 State Session that is being held at the Ramada Inn Conference Center in Grayling. It is going to look and be different this year due to the Pandemic but we as an organization need to keep our fellow Brothers and Sisters safe. Because of the changes that were made the Agriculture Department will NOT be holding in contest classes to enter this year. It is unfortunate but there just isn’t enough time to set up displays and receive enters and have judges do the judging so the Department Directors can get the paperwork done and ribbons presented all while we all need to be in Session as Delegates. We have lots that must be accomplished in one day this year. With that said, all Ag Dept. classes from this year will roll over into next year’s Program Book. I am sorry if you have been growing something special for the contest classes but maybe you can share with friends or food banks that are struggling to provide food to those in need. If you have pictures to share of your gardens please feel free to forward to the Worthy Secretary and maybe we can get them included in one of the issues of the MGN! 
Fair season this year is goin​g to look very different thanks to COVID-19. I have not heard of any County Fair thus far that has not canceled/postponed 2020 until the time they will have it in 2021. It is sad but a hard decision for Fair Boards to make this year. My local county fair that I exhibited at and currently volunteer each year was to celebrate our 75th Anniversary and had lots of special things planned to help celebrate. They are now hosting the Berrien County 2020 Showcase – Youth are Essential during our normal fair week. The bad side of this is that no public is invited and it is just a “Show and Go” type event where you bring your animal in for the day, show it and take it home. No auctions are being held that I am aware of so many families will be left trying to find a way to get something in return on their investments on the cost of the animal and feed. If you hear of a family that is looking for people to buy the animal(s) and you have room in your freezer for a pig or maybe even a half of beef etc., please think about helping them out. My family is in that same situation and we will be working hard to figure out what to do with 3 market hogs. As of right now the market price on hogs is very low, so that really isn’t an option either. Also, if your local County Fair is hosting any type of special fund raiser please support them. These funds will no means make up what they are going to lose by not holding their weeklong event. Lots of Fairs are sponsoring “Drive Thru Fair Food” events which is also giving food vendors that are at these fairs a chance to make a little income as well. This pandemic has hurt so many people and businesses that we would not have thought it would hurt until you think about all of the year round events that aren’t happening because of health concerns.
Here is hoping your gardens are growing or will be and that your harvest is bountiful. Until the next MGN….


AGRICULTURE
MAY/JUNE 2020 GRANGE NEWS

Is it Spring, Summer, Winter?!? This spring has been very crazy for weather so far. I wonder what Summer will be like here in Michigan this year. Hoping Summer will be nice and not too hot but I don’t think people will care after the Stay Safe Stay Home Spring that we are having. As I sit here writing this article on April 9th, we are now having to stay home until April 30th. I know we need to stay safe and be cautious to keep the spread of COVID 19 at low levels but it is also hurting many individuals’ livelihood. I am still working which I am thankful for but it is very stressful on myself and my fellow co-workers. We are doing our best to keep food on the shelves for people to buy every day, but it seems like we are always busy. I guess that shows most people had been eating out all the time! I know a lot of people are buying things to plant and grow for food in their yards this spring. We are getting low on seed potatoes at Shelton’s but I got our seed potatoes purchased so we can get them planted soon.

How many of you have planted anything in your gardens yet? Things that could have been planted by know would be seed potatoes, onion sets, cold crops (cabbages, etc) and I even think carrots but not sure so please check before you plant them! When planning your garden spots, keep in mind the Ag Classes that you can enter at this year’s Annual State Grange Session. Each class is open to Junior members on up to Subordinate members. There are plenty of different classes for all ages and you do not have to live in the Country to do them. I can’t wait to see what Unique containers with plantings come to State Session. Please check the Program Booklet for more details. Be sure to check out the Family Activities section as they put in a neat class in their Department having to do with Antique Agriculture items.

We are running behind at getting things done around the little farm this spring due to the crazy things going on in our World right now. I have yet to get the chicken coop cleaned but that is because when I have the time it is either not nice weather or I am too tired and need to just rest! The pigs for my nephews and niece will be coming to the farm in a few short weeks and there is still things to prepare before they can come to the farm. My niece was over and power washed the peg pin, the fence panels, the hut and my Dad power washed all of the feeders. We have to wash away a residue of a feed additive we have used in the past that is no longer allowed to be used at most County Fairs. The stock trailer is not out of storage yet and also needs power washed. The market goats have been selected and will be arriving soon as well. In the Fall we added a “garage” cat to the farm and she came to our farm excepting kittens. She had 5 and we have 2 of them left and boy have they kept the mice and chipmunk populations to very low levels! Baby, the momma cat, gave us 6 new little kittens on April 2nd! It will be fun to see them grow up but we will have to find homes for them as we just can’t keep that any here.

Please be mindful that this is the time that the country roads and some State Highways will have slow moving farm vehicles on them. If it wasn’t for those farmers and their employees we wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to farmers’ markets or the grocery stores to get the needed foods to feed our families. Please give those big vehicles and tractors as much room as you can without causing problems for yourself or others.

With all this technology going into modern farms, the demand for skilled workers in the agriculture sector is rising. In 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that jobs in food and agriculture outnumber degrees granted in those fields nearly two to one. Of those job opportunities, 27 percent are in science, technology, engineering or math. Remember whenever possible please buy Local or Locally Grown / Made products! You are helping small farm families most of the time. Well that is it for now. Good luck with your garden planning and happy growing until later!